How This Toxic Ingredient Ended Up in Our Food + Why It Affects Your Skin Health
It’s summer, and many of us are ready to detox in more ways than one.
Speaking of detoxing, there’s one pesky ingredient that has been getting more attention lately, and for a good reason – seed oil.
If you’re consuming seed oils as part of your daily diet, eliminating this ingredient is a must for detoxing your body and optimizing your skin health.
We’re covering all your most common questions, including:
“Is seed oil bad for you?”
“Is seed oil good for skin?”
“How can I avoid seed oils?”
You’ll learn why seed oil is harmful to you, which seed oils to avoid, which oils are healthy, and how seed oils can be detrimental to your skin health.
The History of Seed Oils
To understand industrial seed oils and why they’re in so much of our food, you’ll need to understand the history. Because, like most epidemics, we didn’t get here overnight.
Before Seed Oil Was a Thing, We Used Animal Fat
While it may seem weird to consider animal fat as a source of oil, it's deeply ingrained in our roots. Animal fats were actually the “original oil” – before vegetable oils and “healthier” oils dominated the market. Animal fat was used for:
- Candles & soap
- Medicinal salves
Ancient cultures believed it was crucial to use every inch of the animal so that its life was not sacrificed in vain. The animal fat went to good use… until a cheaper alternative appeared.
Seed Oils: The Cheap Replacement for Animal Fat
It started when the [now widely known] company Proctor & Gamble launched with the idea of producing individually wrapped soap.
In searching for a cheaper alternative to animal fat, they discovered cottonseed oil being thrown away as toxic waste from cotton farming. This meant they could buy it for next to nothing.
What does this have to do with seed oil in the diet? Hold on – we’re getting there.
With the help of a German chemist, they started using a chemical process of converting liquid fats into solids.1 This discovery, first used for their soap and candles, led to P&G expanding its offerings to sell solidified oil as a replacement for animal fat – at a fraction of the price.
Animal fat was expensive, but this new alternative was similar to animal lard in texture and consistency and seemed to work the same.
The presence of seed oils in American diets skyrocketed. Marketing convinced consumers that this was a healthy fat, and many embraced these new, convenient, and inexpensive cooking oils.
Little did they know, this new oil, marketed as “vegetable-based,” contained 50 percent trans fat at the time – a dangerously high level. These customers were being greenwashed through deceptive marketing in the early 1900s.
These vegetable oils were wreaking havoc on their bodies.
Why Are Seed Oils Bad For You?
Thanks to research and innovative healthcare advances, we now know exactly why seed oils are harmful to you. Here’s why you should say no to seed oils.
Seed Oils Are Heavily and Chemically Processed
→ Extreme Heat – In the manufacturing, seed oils are heated far beyond their capacity, creating oxidized byproducts that are dangerous to our long-term health.2
→ Processed with petroleum-based solvents – This maximizes the amount of oil extracted – most likely why seed oils cost so little.3
→ Chemically processed for color and smell – On their own, seed oils have a strong, offputting scent and aren’t appealing. This chemical process also creates trans fats.
Seed Oils Overwhelm Your Body With Polyunsaturated Fats
Our bodies don’t produce omega-3 or omega-6, also known as essential fatty acids. We need these polyunsaturated fats, but we must obtain them from food sources.4
And let’s be clear, these PUFAs (Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids) aren’t inherently bad.5 In fact, PUFAs are encouraged in proper amounts – but we need a balance of the two kinds.
That’s why the AMOUNT of omega-6 in our diets is the issue.
Originally human intake was a ratio of 1:1. It’s now as high as 20:1!6
Our culture makes it virtually impossible to avoid polyunsaturated fat because we run on efficiency, shortcuts, and fast, processed foods. Our ancestors had much more omega-3 in their diets because they consumed many wild (unprocessed) foods with saturated fats. It’s not your fault – it’s a culture-wide epidemic. Dr. Mark Hyman7 says it perfectly:
“Wild meat and grass-fed beef contain about 7 times as much omega-3 fats as industrially raised animals, which have almost none. Virtually all of the beef and animal products your great grandparents ate were pasture-raised, organic, grass-fed, and contained no hormones or antibiotics. There was simply no other kind of meat to eat. Introducing refined oils into our diet and moving away from grass-fed and wild animals increased our omega-6 fat intake. ”
And an excess of omega-6 in the body leads to chronic inflammation and disease, including but not limited to:3
- Heart Disease
- Worsening Asthma
- Autoimmune diseases
- Mental Illness8
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Eye Problems, Even blindness
- Cancer Other Serious Illnesses4
The overload of omega-6 cancels out any benefits of omega-3. This is why it’s essential to reduce your omega-6. Quitting industrial seed oils is one of the quickest ways to do so.
And don’t forget to add omega-3 to your diet also!
Seed Oils Contain Little to No Nutrients After Processing
All the chemical processing, as you can imagine, strips the seed oil of any nutrients it started with…
Even worse, these oils contain:3
- Chemical Residue (from the processing)
- Oxidized Byproducts
- Synthetic Preservatives
Plus, seed oils are usually GMOs (genetically modified organisms) – like corn, soy, cotton, and rapeseed.
Seed Oils Are Not Stable for Cooking
The chemical processing and synthetic makeup of seed oils result in an unstable oil. They can easily go rancid, creating toxic properties through oxidization.8 This frequently happens with reheating (or overheating) seed oils.9
Just think about restaurants where oils are heated and reheated many, many times in a deep fryer…10
Seed Oils to Avoid for Optimal Health
These are the top culprits for seed oils to avoid in your diet:
- Canola Oil
- Corn Oil
- Cottonseed Oil
- Soybean Oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Safflower Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
- Rice bran Oil
What About Vegetable Oils?
Vegetable oils can be tricky since marketing has turned the phrase “vegetable oil” into just about anything – including industrial seed oils or blends of the two. There aren’t any “vegetable oils” we know of that are truly made from vegetables in a healthy way. So if you’re still unsure, consult with a holistic nutritionist or doctor.
Why Seed Oils Could Be Affecting Your Skin Health
Mindset, lifestyle, and nutrition are all linked to skin health. That means something as simple as eliminating seed oils could help optimize your skin health.
Gut Health and Skin Health Are Connected
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and alternative health have shown us for a while now that your gut health is directly linked to many other factors in your body – including skin health!
Many alternative medicine experts agree that our bodies cannot process and detox such highly refined oils. Prioritizing your gut health for vibrant, healthy skin means choosing foods for skin health. We recommend fats that support anti-inflammatory action and normal digestion, leafy greens, and avoiding gluten, sugar, and alcohol (and, yes, you can do it – here’s a guide that’s helped so many people!)
There are so many incredible foods for skin health, but if you’re unsure where to start, learning from a holistic nutritionist can point you in the right direction.
Excess Omega-6 Causes Inflammation
It’s not a question. The link between inflammation in the body and excess omega-6 is proven.11 We know inflammation is one of the primary sources of skin issues and diseases, which is a well-balanced diet is so important.
With too much omega-6, your body is working harder to process and detox, so there is no time or “energy” to focus on sending healing energy to your skin.
Try a detox or a fasting practice that clears pathways and encourages healing to reset your body as you eliminate seed oils from your diet.
We also love using facial gua sha or facial dry brushing to get your lymphatic system moving and detox your skin.
How to Avoid Seed Oils + Choose Foods for Skin Health
Seed oils have taken over our food. With industrial seed oils lurking behind every corner, how do you make intentional choices that are better for your body and your skin health?
Consider the Method of Extraction and Storage
→ Always choose cold-pressed, unrefined oils. This applies to your supplements too! Many fish oils (a polyunsaturated fat) are processed in harmful ways, which means the product does more harm than good.
→ Make sure the container protects from oxidization (choose dark glass or aluminum).
Practical tip from our founder, Bethany: Keep an oil packet with you in your bag and ask restaurants what cooking oils they use. If it’s seed oil, use your own or ask them to replace it with butter.
Healthy Vegetable Oils for Cooking
We're here to provide some clarity despite mixed media and advertising wanting to convince you that all vegetable oils are bad. Some vegetable oils still are an excellent, balanced source of nutrients and have a high heatproof resistance for cooking!
- Coconut Oil (chose unrefined, virgin oil.)
- Avocado Oil (make sure it’s non-GMO.)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (best to go organic cold-pressed with this one, and keep in mind its lower smoke point means you’ll need to use low-medium heat.)
You Can Also Cook With Animal Fats
Don’t be afraid of cooking with animal fats! Full of flavor and depth, animal fats are a wonderful and nutritious alternative. Consider options like tallow, ghee, butter, or duck fat.
Choose Foods Rich in Omega-3
Here are our favorite ways to up your omega-3 intake:
→ Avocado – eat it whole, on gluten-free toast, or as guac!
→ Grass-Fed Meats – 7x as much omega-3 than traditional meats
→ Nuts & Seeds – walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds
→ Fatty Fish – sardines, wild salmon, mackerel, herring
What About Oils on My Skin?
All this information about seed oils has probably got you wondering: “What about my skin?”
If these oils are so bad for your body, should you avoid them with skincare too?
Are seed oils bad for your skin?
The Consensus: Oil Is Your Skin’s Friend
While we definitely have a list of ingredients to avoid in skincare, we’d actually argue that oil is a non-negotiable for optimal skin health.
*It’s important to note here that we’re not advocating for highly refined oils. Those should stay away from your skin too.
Oils can be powerful healing tools for your skin health – but not all oils are good. And like cooking, we’re big advocates for using animal fat. We value and honor ancestral wisdom by using our resources well.
Pay Attention to the Extraction Method & Storage Container
Because natural oils can be delicate, take extra precautions when considering oils for your skin. Like foods, you want cold-pressed, unrefined, or unprocessed.
Ensure your ingredients are packaged in dark amber bottles and contain Vitamin E to prevent oxidation.
A Balance of Ethical Seed Oils and Saturated Fat Supports Optimal Skin Health
At Primally Pure, we use nut and seed oils, but only those that have proven benefits for the skin and are cold-pressed & extracted without chemicals. We pay for the quality – it’s not cheap, but it's the best.
No shortcuts here. Because that’s what your body deserves.
Tallow is one of the purest, most nutrient-dense ingredients you can bless your skin with. You’ll see this source of naturally occurring saturated fat in many of our best-selling products.
The Health of Your Body Is Reflected in the State of Your Skin
If your body is healthy and you’re taking steps to minimize your toxic load and care for your whole self, your skin will show it. It may take time for your body to detox and your skin to glow, but remember, it’s all connected.
Take care of your body and see your skin health mirror the results!
As always, we encourage you to stay mindful, educate yourself whenever you can, and find grace for yourself throughout the process.
Building a nontoxic lifestyle is challenging at times, but the reward is so worth it. Eliminate seed oils from your diet and see how your skin changes for the better.
How can we support you on your journey? We’re here for you.
- How Vegetable Oils Replaced Animal Fats in the American Diet
- Oxidized Oils in Food May Be Harmful to Health
- How Industrial Seed Oils Are Making Us Sick
- Are Vegetable and Seed Oils Bad for Your Health?
- Dietary Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs): Uses and Potential Health Benefits
- An Increase in the Omega-6/Omega-3 Fatty Acid Ratio Increases the Risk for Obesity
- Why Oil Is Bad for You
- Elevated Immune-Inflammatory Signaling in Mood Disorders: A New Therapeutic Target?
- Heated Vegetable Oils and Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors
- Evaluation of the Deleterious Health Effects of Consumption of Repeatedly Heated Vegetable Oil
- Omega-6 Fatty Acids and Inflammation
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