Seed oil, simply said, is an umbrella term for oils that are made from seeds. These oils are commonly used for various purposes. Many, however, don’t know how to distinguish which oil is a seed oil and which isn’t. Today’s article provides you with a complete seed oils list and their uses and nutritional information.
List of Seed Oils
2. Cottonseed Oil
3. Safflower Oil
4. Sesame Seed Oil
5. Canola Oil
6. Grapeseed Oil
7. Flaxseed Oil
8. Soybean Oil
The 8 Most Widely-Used Seed Oils
Seed oils are made from the seeds/kernels of specific vegetables, fruits, or plants. These are widely used in cooking, cosmetics, pharmaceutical, and chemicals. Some of the commonly-used seed oils include:
Sunflower oil is pressed from the seeds of the sunflower plant (Helianthus annuus). Four available types of this oil indicate each oil’s levels of linoleic and oleic acid — high linoleic, mid-oleic, high oleic, and high stearic/high oleic.
Commonly used as a frying oil, sunflower oil is a rich source of polyunsaturated fat, which can benefit cardiovascular health by reducing the risk of heart disease. This oil is also used as an emollient in cosmetics.
Cottonseed oil is a popular cooking ingredient from the seeds of cotton plant species — the Gossypium hirsutum and Gossypium herbaceum. Cottonseed contains gossypol, a naturally occurring toxin in the seed’s oil which serves as a natural insecticide; because of that, cottonseed oil undergoes a refining process to make it safe and edible.
Studies show that cottonseed can potentially lower inflammation. The unsaturated fats in cottonseed oil may help lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and increase HDL (good cholesterol), improving blood pressure and reducing the risk of stroke and heart diseases. Being rich in vitamin E can benefit the skin and promote faster wound healing.
Safflower oil is made from the seeds of the safflower plant. There are two types of this oil; monounsaturated safflower oil – which is known for its high smoke point; making it ideal for high-temperature cooking, like frying, sautéing, and baking. Polyunsaturated safflower oil, on the contrary, has a lower smoke point.
Safflower seed oil is a heart-healthy oil that can cut the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and stroke. It can control blood sugar and cholesterol levels and be used as a remedy for coughs, fevers, and breathing problems.
Sesame oil is an edible oil made from sesame seeds and is one of the oldest crop-based oils. Most Asian cuisines use sesame oil to saute meats and vegetables or in dressings and marinades.
Sesame oil is rich in vitamin E and compounds like phytosterols, lignans, sesamol, and sesaminol, which can boost heart health, prevent inflammation, and benefit the skin.
Canola oil is oil made from crushed canola seeds. Because of its light flavor, high smoke point, and smooth texture, canola oil is one of the most commonly-used cooking oils. Compared to other popular oils commonly used in the U.S., it has lesser saturated fat.
Canola oil is rich in monounsaturated fats and contains phytosterols, which reduce cholesterol absorption in the body.
Grapeseed oil is extracted from grape seeds. This oil can prevent the risk of certain cancers and heart diseases since it contains high levels of vitamin E, which has high antioxidant properties that can reduce damaged cells from free radicals in the body.
Otherwise known as linseed oil, flaxseed oil is made from flax seeds that have been ground and pressed to extract their natural oil. Flaxseed oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and helps reduce cancer cell growth, control cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and treat digestive problems.
Aside from culinary purposes, artists use linseed oil to give color pigments in paintings an oilier and thinner consistency, while others use it to add a glaze.
Soybean oil is made from soybean seeds. It’s a popular substitute to common oils for frying, baking, roasting, or sautéing, mainly for its high-smoke point.
This oil is rich in vitamin E, which provides antioxidant protection, and vitamin K, which promotes bone strength and prevents fractures. Like most seed oils, it contains unsaturated fatty acids that might help lower cholesterol levels, benefitting heart health.
Are Seed Oils Bad?
While seed oils are widely used both as cooking aids and in a wide variety of pre-packaged foods. There is a growing movement that believe they could be detrimental to one’s health and often warn about their effects.
No matter how healthy, seed oils are still 100% fat. Excessive consumption of seed oils naturally results in weight gain and increased cholesterol levels.
The refinement processes most seed oils undergo extend their shelf life. The refining process uses high temperatures, removing all the valuable and natural elements and increasing bad LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and insulin levels. Other extraction processes use hexane, an organic solvent with low toxicity.
Some studies show certain seed oils have a higher ratio of omega-6 than omega-3. Excessive omega-6 can have inflammatory effects, harm cells in the heart and blood vessels, and increase cholesterol and blood pressure, harming heart health.
Ultimately, seed oils are safe for cooking and consumption but in great moderation.
Seed Oil Alternatives
If you’re considering an alternative to seed oils, these oils will make an excellent choice:
- Olive oil is a fruit oil
- Avocado oil is a fruit oil
- Coconut oil
Seed oils are a popular kitchen constant whose varieties suit various cooking methods and offer some health benefits. However, given their manufacturing processes and composition, they could cause health problems, especially when overconsumed, so it’s important to use them in moderation.