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Hidden Dangers: The Inflammatory Impact Of Toxic Industrial Seed Oils

Toxic industrial seed oils (aka vegetable oils) include products like canola oil (rapeseed oil), corn oil, cottonseed oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, palm oil (note: sustainable unrefined red palm oil is healthy), grapeseed oil, peanut oil and rice bran oil. 

“Vegetable oil” is really a euphemistic marketing term and in reality these are more accurately industrial seed oils.

The process of extracting oil from a seed to make a typical industrial seed oil, like canola oil, involves a 70-minute wash in the petroleum-based chemical solvent hexane. It is then further refined in sodium hydroxide, better known as lye. 

Because it still has an undesirable look and odor, this gray, foul-smelling substance is then bleached to remove the unappealing color and chemically deodorized with a high-heat steam injection to remove its rank stench.

The result is a substance high in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids and ALA omega-3 fatty acids that do not convert well to the more beneficial EPA or DHA omega-3 fatty acids, which are associated with ample anti-inflammatory benefits, like digestive health and brain health, respectively.

So, other than the chemical warfare it takes to produce these industrial oils, what makes them so bad?  

Nearly all industrial seed oils come from GMO monocrops––like soy, corn, cotton and rapeseed––that are oversaturated in the food supply, displace nutrient-dense crops, deplete soils, are heavily sprayed with chemicals, destroy aquatic water systems and much more.   

Industrial seed oils are the highest source of omega-6 fatty acids in the Standard American Diet. The proper ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in our body is critical to maintaining the balance of inflammation and thus affects every aspect of systemic health. 

Chronic inflammatory disease is a modern plague responsible for eight of the top ten causes of death in the US. Ancestrally, the ratio between omega-6 and omega-3 would have been 1:1, but now due to the prevalence of industrial seed oils in our food supply it’s closer to 20:1. 

This extreme elevation in omega-6 fatty acid levels has a wide-spread, pro-inflammatory effect on all systems of the body and is associated with a long list of health issues, including asthma, autoimmune disease, depression, anxiety, Alzheimer's, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, digestive disorders such as IBS and IBD, infertility in both men and women, osteoarthritis and more.  

When industrial seed oils are exposed to light, heat or chemicals, they oxidize and degrade into trans fats–which promote cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes–and also into lipid peroxides that lead to DNA damage and promote aging and chronic disease.  

We are not evolved to consume industrial seed oils. Our bodies simply don’t process them and we are consuming six times more soybean oil now than just 40 years ago because it makes its way into what seems like every processed food there is. It’s simply too much too fast. 

Toxic, endocrine-disrupting synthetic additives such as BHA, BHT and TBHQ are added to try and prevent the oil from going rancid, but these are carcinogenic, disruptive to the immune system and have been shown to increase food allergies. 

Industrial seed oils are typically heated and reheated over and over again, both in their processing and later again in settings like restaurant deep fryers, creating an incredible amount of free radicals that cause oxidative stress throughout the body when consumed, leading to elevated blood pressure, cardiovascular disorders, digestive problems and liver damage, just to name a few. 

These cheap, harmful oils are absolutely everywhere and if you’re eating at a restaurant it’s more likely than not your food is being cooked in them. No matter how local and organic the produce, grass-fed the animal or wild-caught the fish, if the food is being doused in toxic, inflammatory oil when cooked, it’s no longer healthy. 

One of the top ways to improve digestion, decrease systemic inflammation and optimize overall health is to remove all industrial seed oils aka “vegetable oils” from the diet completely and permanently. 

If you’re eating out, be sure to ask what they’re cooking your food in, and if it’s an industrial seed oil, request something else like avocado oil, coconut oil, olive oil, butter, ghee, lard, tallow or duck fat. Use these when you’re cooking at home, as well.


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