With all of the pumpkin-flavored treats hitting the shelves, it can be easy to fall (pun intended) into the trap of purchasing items that may not be ideal for your health. Of course, indulging in these fall treats in moderation is more than okay, but we still want to be mindful of the ingredient lists in popular festive items that can negatively impact your blood sugar levels and gut microbiome.
INDUSTRIAL SEED OILS 101
One of the most common harmful ingredients in processed foods is industrial seed oil. Industrial seed oils are processed oils extracted from GMO crops, including soybean, corn, canola or rapeseed, sunflower, cottonseed, grape seed, and rice bran oil. Industrial seed oils were originally considered industrial waste and used only in soap making until 1911, but within the last two decades we’ve seen them added to everything from oat milk, protein bars, cookies, crackers, dip, dressings and prepackaged foods, plus all the fast causal and fast food restaurants use them to cook or fry food.
Common Industrial Seed Oils:
- Canola (rapeseed)
- Grape seed
- Rice bran
The process in which these oils are made produces toxic chemicals that is harmful to humans. The seeds are cooked to high temperatures that oxidize the fatty acids. Then, they go through a chemical extraction using hexane, a toxic chemical that can lead to harmful health effects in humans when consumed in large quantities. After the oil is extracted, they undergo a chemical deodorization process to eliminate odor, which produces trans fat in the oil. Lastly, the color of the oil is enhanced using additional chemicals before making its way to the shelves disguised as a health food.
The consequences of overusing industrial seed oils in our food system has been detrimental to human health. Between years of 1959 and 2008 the increase in polyunsaturated fats, specifically linoleic acid, has more than doubled from 9.1% to 21.5%. We want to aim for a 1:1 ratio of Omega-3s and Omega-6s, but most of us are currently at a 25:1 ratio. Without a balanced ration, Omega-6s are inflammatory and can lead to other health issues. With that said, this isn’t about being scared of processed foods or never allowing yourself a pumpkin-flavored treat, it is about informed consent and making changes if and where you can.
How to Lower Your Industrial Seed Oil Intake
I am still able to eat out and buy pre-made foods weekly, but I always check my dips, dressings, desserts, crackers, milk and protein bars to ensure they are free of harmful ingredients and I want to encourage you to do the same! Swapping the things you use on a daily basis for industrial seed oil-free products is the best way to lower your overall intake. Turning around the products you buy in the store and making a few more things at home will allow you to still enjoy your favorite foods without the repercussions of industrial seed oils.
The best way to lower industrial seed oils is to:
- Make food at home! Aim to make at least half of your meals at home with ingredients that are free from inflammatory ingredients such as industrial seed oils, while prioritizing protein, fat, fiber, and greens! For Fab 4 meal inspiration, head over to the blog, Instagram, or shop my courses to learn how to create a balanced plate.
- Scan labels for seed oils like canola, soybean rapeseed, safflower, cottonseed, and sunflower oil. Sometimes they are disguised under different names, so if there is an ingredient you don't understand, double-check with a quick google search.
Why You Should Stay Industrial Seed Oil Free
After consumption of industrial seed oils, the polyunsaturated fatty acid oils, or PUFA, makes their way into your body and adipose tissue where they will take up residence in your fat tissue for over two years. The research shows us that year after year, we have seen an increase in the percentage of PUFAs in our cells. The prevalence of PUFAs in our food supply parallels the increase in chronic lifestyle diseases and inflammatory conditions.
Switch to nourishing oils with a higher smoke point to avoid the release of fatty acids that are harmful to our health and rich in omega-3s for anti-inflammatory benefits. Here are my favorite clean oils for cooking and consumption:
- Zero Acre Cultured Oil
- Coconut oil
- Avocado oil
- Grass-fed butter or ghee
- Organic extra virgin olive oil
In addition to swapping out your cooking oil, making food at home takes the guesswork out of whether or not you are consuming harmful ingredients. Try out my homemade Fab 4 fall-inspired treats to get you through pumpkin season without spiking your blood sugar.