Scientists debunk claims of seed oil health risks

June 22, 2022—While the internet may be full of posts stating that seed oils such as canola and soy are “toxic,” scientific evidence does not support these claims, according to experts. Guy Crosby, adjunct associate of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, was among those quoted in a May 31, 2022 Consumer Reports article who pushed back on the idea that these oils cause health ills ranging from headaches to heart disease.

While it’s true that many foods that use seed oils—such as packaged snacks and french fries—are unhealthy, they also tend to be high in refined carbohydrates, sodium, and sugar. “Sure, if you cut back on these foods, chances are you’re going to feel better,” Crosby said. But these other components, not the seed oils themselves, are the culprit behind weight gain and other negative health outcomes.

Repeatedly heating unsaturated fats to high temperatures, such as in restaurant deep-fryers where oil is infrequently changed, is a health concern, Crosby said. However, he added, “Cooking with seed oils at home isn’t an issue.”

In addition, experts said that there is no reason to cut back on whole foods that contain omega-6—the type of polyunsaturated fat dominant in seed oils—such as nuts and seeds. Evidence suggests that a diet high in these foods can help lower cholesterol and blood sugar and reduce heart disease risk.

Read the Consumer Reports article: Do Seed Oils Make You Sick?