As someone who loves getting my hands dirty in the kitchen, I am still always looking for cleaner ingredient alternatives that not only satisfy my taste buds but also nourish my body from within. It’s amazing how a few simple swaps in our cooking choices can make a world of difference in how we feel inside and out. But while some healthy swaps are more obvious than others, there are always ones that commonly sneak past us and seem unavoidable. I’m talking about seed oils. You’re probably wondering, “Elissa, how can seed oils be harmful if they come from plants?” Let’s break it down.
What Are Seed Oils?
As the name suggests, seed oils are the oils extracted from the seeds of various plants. Some of the most widely used seed oils are canola, sunflower, safflower, grapeseed, cottonseed, soybean, sesame, and corn. Seed oils have become a staple in modern diets since we find them hiding in all sorts of processed foods and packaged goods, from salad dressings to store-bought desserts. But why do so many companies use seed oils if they can negatively impact our health?
In short, seed oils are affordable and accessible. Due to the agricultural practice in the United States, we have a surplus of corn, making corn oil significantly lower in price compared to a bottle of high-quality olive oil. So, it’s no surprise that large manufacturing companies would prefer to use a seed oil like canola or sunflower to cut costs and increase profits. Unfortunately, our health is not their priority. So, it’s up to us to take matters into our own hands.
The Omega-6 to Omega-3 Ratio
To better understand how seed oils impact our health, we need to talk about two essential fatty acids: omega-6s and omega-3s. We call these fatty acids “essential” because our bodies cannot make them. So, they must be obtained through our diet. Now without getting too scientific, the difference between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids lies in the location of the double bonds along their carbon chain. However, what’s important to know is that this subtle change in position has significant implications for our health.
We need omega-6s and omega-3s. Both are vital to normal bodily processes, cellular function, and overall health. Still, research shows that a lower ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is favorable in reducing the risk of many chronic diseases, such as metabolic syndrome and inflammatory diseases. While the ideal ratio is around 1:1, Western diets often have a mind-boggling ratio of 20:1. But what does this have to do with seed oils?
Seed oils are generally rich in omega-6 fatty acids. So, the prevalence of seed oils in virtually every processed food has significantly contributed to the imbalanced ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in our diets, putting us at a higher risk for inflammation and other complications.
The Inflammatory Effects of Seed Oils
Eicosanoids are signaling molecules our bodies produce as needed. And there are many kinds of eicosanoids, all with specific functions, such as immune, blood vessel, or kidney health. Our bodies make eicosanoids from omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. And while all eicosanoids have their place during critical times, omega-6-derived eicosanoids are pro-inflammatory and omega-3-derived eicosanoids are anti-inflammatory. So, prolonged or excessive consumption of seed oils, which are rich in omega-6, promotes chronic inflammation, leading to various health problems.
Seed oils are high in polyunsaturated fats, which are naturally more susceptible to oxidation. Seed oils can undergo oxidative damage when exposed to heat, light, and air during cooking, producing free radicals. These free radicals can cause oxidative stress within the body, triggering inflammation and cellular damage.
The Gut Microbiome
A healthy gut is essential for maintaining proper immune function and reducing inflammation, but research suggests that seed oils may negatively impact the composition and diversity of our gut microbiome. Seed oils can disrupt our unique balance of beneficial bacteria, causing our gut linking to weaken. This shift promotes inflammation and increases the risk of further gastrointestinal disorders.
Lowering inflammation supports heart health, healthy aging, immune function, and overall well-being. So, prioritize these anti-inflammatory alternatives to promote a healthier, happier you.
Monounsaturated Fatty Acids
High intake and complementation of monounsaturated fatty acids, or MUFAs, has been linked to a lower risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome, which means lower chronic inflammation and mortality. Oils rich in MUFAs are avocado oil for a neutral taste and extra-virgin olive oil to pack a flavorful punch. Adding these oils to your meals is a nutritious solution to lowering inflammation.
Fatty foods like algae oil and walnuts provide excellent amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial to keeping inflammation at bay. They contain EPA and DHA, essential fatty acids our bodies use to produce anti-inflammatory eicosanoids. They are also important for promoting eye health, brain health, heart health, and so much more. Consider taking an algae oil supplement and a handful of walnuts daily to boost your health naturally.
Are you ready to kick seed oils and inflammation to the curb but don’t know where to begin? Take total control of your health by trying my EG Kitchen Cleanse! It’s an amazing, gentle addition to your health journey that will flush out toxins and leave you glowing and inflammation-free like never before. The ingredients are naturally clean, nutrient-dense, and anti-inflammatory to help you unlock newfound energy and focus, balance your hormones, and feel your absolute best. My EG Kitchen Cleanse is your ticket to jumpstarting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle you will love.