foods that help fight inflammation
Where do seed oils come from? Are they safe? Should you consume them in moderation or even at all? Are they processed? What are some alternatives?

Seed oils, such as soybean oil, canola oil, and sunflower oil, are commonly used in cooking and food processing and can provide a source of essential fatty acids, such as omega-6 fatty acids. Excessive consumption of certain seed oils could be associated with health concerns.

To make healthier dietary choices:

  • Choose Unprocessed Oils: Opt for cold-pressed or unrefined seed oils, when possible, as they are less processed and retain more of their natural nutrients.
  • Balance Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids: Maintain a balanced intake of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids by incorporating foods rich in omega-3s, like fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts, into your diet.
  • Moderation is Key: Use seed oils in moderation and vary your sources of dietary fats by including other healthy fats like olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds.
  • Consider Your Individual Needs: Your dietary needs may vary based on factors like age, activity level, and health conditions. Consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalized dietary recommendations.

Here are some points to consider, along with suggested sources for further reading:

  • Omega-6 and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Balance:  Seed oils are often high in omega-6 fatty acids, and an imbalance with omega-3 fatty acids can contribute to inflammation and health issues.

Source: Simopoulos, A. P. (2002). The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, 56(8), 365-379.

  • Processing Methods and Oxidation:  The processing of seed oils can involve methods that may lead to the degradation of nutrients and the formation of potentially harmful compounds.

Source: Destaillats, F., & Angers, P. (2007). Analysis of Lipid Oxidation Products in Vegetable Oils and Marine Omega-3 Supplements. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 55(25), 10226–10233.

  • Caloric Density:  Seed oils are calorie-dense, and excessive consumption can contribute to weight gain and obesity.

Source: Mozaffarian, D., Hao, T., Rimm, E. B., Willett, W. C., & Hu, F. B. (2011). Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men. New England Journal of Medicine, 364(25), 2392–2404.

  • Lack of Other Nutrients:  While providing fats, seed oils lack other essential nutrients present in whole foods.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2020). FoodData Central. Retrieved from

  • Quality and Processing Variability:  The quality of seed oils can vary, and lower-quality oils may contain impurities or undergo processing that reduces health benefits.

Source: Matthäus, B. (2006). Utilization of high-oleic rapeseed oil for deep-fat frying of French fries compared to other commonly used edible oils. European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology, 108(3), 200–211.

Some benefits of using extra virgin olive oil versus seed oils.

Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is often considered a healthier option compared to many seed oils due to its unique composition and associated health benefits. Here are some key benefits of using extra virgin olive oil:

  • Heart Health: EVOO is rich in monounsaturated fats, specifically oleic acid, which has been linked to improved cardiovascular health.

Source: Estruch, R., Ros, E., Salas-Salvadó, J., Covas, M. I., Corella, D., Arós, F., ... & PREDIMED Study Investigators. (2013). Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with a Mediterranean diet. New England Journal of Medicine, 368(14), 1279-1290.

  • Anti-Inflammatory Properties:  EVOO contains polyphenols with anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce inflammation in the body.

Source: Covas, M. I., Nyyssönen, K., Poulsen, H. E., Kaikkonen, J., Zunft, H. J., Kiesewetter, H., ... & The EUROLIVE Study Group. (2006). The effect of polyphenols in olive oil on heart disease risk factors: a randomized trial. Annals of Internal Medicine, 145(5), 333-341.

  • Antioxidant Content:  EVOO contains antioxidants, including vitamin E and polyphenols, which help protect cells from oxidative damage.

Source: Owen, R. W., Mier, W., Giacosa, A., Hull, W. E., Spiegelhalder, B., & Bartsch, H. (2000). Phenolic compounds and squalene in olive oils: the concentration and antioxidant potential of total phenols, simple phenols, secoiridoids, lignansand squalene. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 38(8), 647-659.

  • Cancer Prevention:  Some studies suggest that the polyphenols in EVOO may have protective effects against certain types of cancers.

Source: Visioli, F., & Bernardini, E. (2011). Extra virgin olive oil's polyphenols: biological activities. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 17(8), 786-804.

  • Stability at High Temperatures:  EVOO has a higher smoke point compared to some seed oils, making it more stable at high temperatures and suitable for cooking.

Source: Sacchi, R., Paduano, A., Fiore, G., Ambrosino, M. L., Carbone, R., & Di Prisco, G. (2003). Capillary electrophoresis of phenolic compounds in the quality control of extra-virgin olive oil. Electrophoresis, 24(13-14), 2138-2144.

  • Improved Lipid Profile:  Benefit: Consumption of EVOO has been associated with favorable changes in lipid profiles, including increased high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

Source: Covas, M. I., de la Torre, K., Farré-Albaladejo, M., Kaikkonen, J., Fitó, M., López-Sabater, M. C., ... & Lamuela-Raventós, R. M. (2006). Postprandial LDL phenolic content and LDL oxidation are modulated by olive oil phenolic compounds in humans. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 40(4), 608-616.

It's important to note that while EVOO has various health benefits, moderation is still key, as it is a calorie-dense oil. Additionally, individual health needs may vary, and consulting with healthcare professionals or registered dietitians is advisable for personalized dietary advice.