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Don't Put These Oils in Your Machine

Seed Oils

by Michael Wohltmann

The phrase “Stacking the Deck” originated in card playing in the 1800s and was something used to give card dealers an advantage in winning card games. The lesson here is if one can put favorable items in the right place, advantages could be gained.

In health, there are ways to “stack the deck”. Some ways such as not smoking, lowering or eliminating processed foods and staying active are a little more obvious in the collective consciousness. Still, there are other ways to improve health but are lessor known.

One of these lesser-known parts of diet are seed oils.

Seed oils, such as canola, soybean, sunflower, and corn oil, have been a staple in Western diets for decades. These oils are often marketed as healthy, with high amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E. However, research indicates that consuming large amounts of seed oils may be detrimental to health.

The average daily consumption of seed oils in the United States is estimated to be approximately 25-30 grams, or roughly 5-6 teaspoons (1). Some studies even show amounts past 80 grams per day. While moderate consumption of seed oils is generally considered safe, excessive intake can lead to chronic inflammation, which has been linked to a range of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

One of the main concerns with seed oils is their high omega-6 content. A diet high in omega-6 fatty acids can disrupt the balance between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, leading to chronic inflammation (2). Inflammation is an immune response that can damage tissues and cells, increasing the risk of chronic disease.

Additionally, seed oils are often heavily processed and refined, which can lead to the formation of harmful compounds, such as trans fats and advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Trans fats, which are commonly found in partially hydrogenated seed oils, have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease (3). AGEs, on the other hand, are a group of compounds that form when sugars react with amino acids in the body. AGEs can contribute to chronic inflammation and cellular damage (4).

Finally, seed oils are high in polyunsaturated fats, which are prone to oxidation and can become rancid easily. Rancid oils can contribute to inflammation and oxidative stress in the body, which can harm cells and tissues (5). Many authors believe this to be the main problem with seed oils.

Inflammation can slow healing in the body if it becomes chronic or excessive. While acute inflammation is an important part of the healing process, chronic inflammation can lead to tissue damage and delay healing (6). Excessive inflammation can also impair the growth of new blood vessels and delay the formation of new tissue (7).

Research has shown that controlling inflammation can promote faster healing in various conditions, including wounds, burns, and fractures (8, 9, 10). Additionally, certain anti-inflammatory treatments have been shown to improve healing outcomes in these conditions (11, 12).

Chronic inflammation in tendons and muscles can lead to the accumulation of scar tissue, which can impede movement and cause pain (13). Inflammation can also interfere with the repair and regeneration of muscle tissue, leading to muscle weakness and atrophy (14).

Keep in mind that some inflammation is needed for muscle growth and targeting the complete elimination of inflammation is not the goal here. Adding inflammation via diet by seed oils and not something more beneficial like training has the potential to lower the building of muscle and the healing of joints and tendons. (Translation: Higher seed oils and potentially less gains.)

In conclusion, while seed oils are a common ingredient in many processed foods and can be a convenient and inexpensive source of dietary fat, consuming large amounts may be detrimental to health. It is recommended to use healthier fats, such as olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, lard or grass-fed butter, in moderation, and to focus on a balanced and varied diet that includes a wide range of whole, nutrient-dense foods.

(PS. All versions of oils/fats have expiration dates. Seed oils may turn rancid the quickest and while under heat.)

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  2. Simopoulos AP. The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Biomed Pharmacother. 2002 Oct;56(8):365-79.
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  9. Yuan, Y., & Liang, G. (2015). Effects of inflammatory factors on mesenchymal stem cells and their role in the promotion or prevention of wound healing. Stem Cell Research & Therapy, 6(1), 1-9.
  10. Werner, S., & Grose, R. (2003). Regulation of wound healing by growth factors and cytokines. Physiological Reviews, 83(3), 835-870.
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  12. Zhang, L., Chen, J., Han, Q., Chen, X., Zhao, H., & Liu, W. (2016). Therapeutic effect of berberine on TDP-43-related pathogenesis in FTLD and ALS. Journal of Molecular Neuroscience, 58(4), 573-581.
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  14. Tidball JG, Wehling-Henricks M. Macrophages promote muscle membrane repair and muscle fibre growth and regeneration during modified muscle loading in mice in vivo. J Physiol. 2007;578(1):327-36.