By Team ICG® Master Trainer Joan Kent
Last month, a participant in the weight management program for which I”™m the nutritionist asked me about cottonseed oil. He was confused because the statements he found were strongly divided between positive and negative. It occurred to me that you might have students who wonder about it, too, so it could be worthwhile to post some information on health factors around cottonseed oil.
Based on the research I was able to do in the time I had available to look into it, I can tell you that the positive comments about cottonseed oil come primarily from companies that make or distribute it. The other sources tend to rate it negatively.
The drawbacks of cottonseed oil appear to fall in different categories. One drawback is its saturated fat component. While other saturated fats have some “redeeming” health value — organic coconut oil and butter, for example, both contain a healthful fat called lauric acid — cottonseed oil has no similarly redeeming nutritional value.
Another drawback involves the pesticides cottonseed oil is likely to contain. They”™re there because pesticides are used in the growing of cotton, and regulations for cotton crops differ from those for food crops.
There”™s also the fact that, in most cases, cotton crops are genetically modified (GMO). As many of you know, considerable bad news surrounds GMO products, especially when they're eaten, but maybe that”™s a post for another week. Suffice it to say that GMO farming is an experiment for which we”™re the subjects, and the long-term effects are not yet known. Many countries refuse to sell GMO foods, but the U.S. hasn”™t gone in that protective direction.
Because it”™s inexpensive, cottonseed oil is used in many products: potato chips, Crisco shortening, cereals, mayonnaise, salad dressings, baked goods, cake frostings, margarine, snack foods, sauces, and the like. The fact that most of these products are on the junky side could be considered another drawback of the oil.
Finally, cottonseed oil is high in omega-6 fats, as well as in saturated fat. Omega-6s have been getting plenty of bad press for the past several years, but, in and of themselves, aren't necessarily bad. However, the products that contain cottonseed oil tend to be highly insulin-triggering, and cottonseed oil would be, as well, since it contains saturated fat, which triggers insulin.
Insulin can affect the body”™s enzymes that process the cottonseed oil-containing foods. That in turn could accelerate the formation of series 2 prostaglandins, as described in a previous post. Series 2 prostaglandins are associated with inflammation and other negative health effects. So that”™s when and how omega-6 fats become harmful.
Based on these factors, I”™d suggest taking a cynical view of the positive reviews of cottonseed oil, as they represent vested interests. Limit foods that contain cottonseed oil whenever possible and advise your students to do the same.
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Thank you for that very insightful review of cottonseed oil. It was not on my radar before. Your research is enough for me at this point.
I’m commenting because I would value your thoughts on GMO. Here is at least one reader looking forward to that post.
Think I’ll go take my daily Super B-Complex supplement now.
Thanks for reading and commenting on my post. When I was teaching, I used to cover the topic of GMO foods and could write something on it for a future post. Thanks for the idea.
I’d like to commend you on a comment you made to Krista Leopold’s very good post on preparation. Your detailed account of the time it takes an IC instructor to get ready for the one visible hour in front of the class was as accurate as it gets!
Nice job on that.
Thank you Joan. I spend so much time trying to shop the peripheral of the grocery store and, like Chuck, hadn’t had Cottonseed oil on my radar. I do now!
We enjoy Coconut Oil and butter in our family. Jettisoned marg a long time ago, as my family growing up always preferred butter.
Now I need to go read Krista’s article and Chuck’s comments 🙂
Thanks for reading my post and commenting, Amy. Coconut oil is a good choice, and I remember butter quite fondly(!).
Personally, I don’t know anyone who uses cottonseed oil from a can (as in the picture John found), but it makes its way into a lot of foods. If you shop the periphery of the grocery store, it’s not surprising that cottonseed oil hasn’t been on your radar. The foods that contain it are, as mentioned, the kinds we’re better off avoiding.