Is Cottonseed Oil Okay?

Do you recommend the use of cottonseed oil in the diet?

– February 28, 2008

Definitely not. As a matter of fact, in my book, Eight Weeks to Optimum Health, one of the first things I ask readers to do is to go through their pantry shelves and throw out anything made with cottonseed oil. I regard it as unhealthy because it is too high in saturated fat and too low in monounsaturated fat. What’s more, cottonseed oil may contain natural toxins and probably has unacceptably high levels of pesticide residues (cotton is not classified as a food crop, and farmers use many agrichemicals when growing it). Be on the lookout for cottonseed oil in packaged foods and avoid products that contain it. Manufacturers like it because it’s cheap, and products that say “may contain one or more of these oils” and list cottonseed, will almost certainly contain it.

I recommend using extra-virgin olive oil, a mostly monounsaturated oil with antioxidant activity, as the principal fat in your diet. We have a wealth of evidence showing that populations that consume good quality olive oil as a primary dietary fat have significantly lower rates of both heart disease and cancer than those that don’t. When you need a neutral-tasting oil, I recommend choosing organic, cold-expeller-pressed canola oil, also primarily a monounsaturated fat. Avoid the lower-cost canola oils sold in supermarkets, which have often been extracted with chemical solvents or high-speed presses that generate heat. These methods alter the oil’s chemistry in undesirable ways. Furthermore, canola growers also use a lot of pesticides on their crops, and canola oil doesn’t contain the healthy antioxidant polyphenols that are present in extra-virgin olive oil.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

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