Cottonseed oil

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.

Joan Kent

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