Is Cottonseed Oil Healthy?
When you think of cooking oils, the first thing that comes to your mind is a vegetable oil, or olive oil, and so on. If you have high cholesterol, you then want to know if it’s health. But there’s one more oil that we would like to introduce to you that comes from something that is already a part of your daily life.
This oil is Cottonseed Oil and based on the name you should already be able to predict where it comes from. Cottonseed Oil has been used for generations and has made a comeback in recent years as we try to move towards healthier cooking oil alternatives.
In this article, you will learn more about the history of Cottonseed Oil and what it can do for you. Read on to find out if cottonseed oil is healthy. Let’s get started, shall we?
Where does it come from?
Cottonseed oil comes from the seeds of a variety of cotton plants.
Cotton has been used throughout human history for its fiber. The seeds, on the other hand, were thrown away or used in farming as animal feed and fertilizer.
This practice continued up until around the 1820s when Europe experienced a shortage of fats and oils due to war and bans on trading. Entrepreneurs in the United States saw this as an opportunity to meet the demands of the European market while getting rid of the abundance of cottonseed at hand by crushing cottonseeds to extract their oils.
Though ambitious, this scheme was not very profitable until about 1911 when Crisco came onto the scene to provide a “heart-healthy” substitute for animal fats such as lard and a cheaper substitute to butter.
Cottonseed Oil soon became the most popular oil on the market until it was replaced by soybean oil in the 1950s. It wasn’t till about the early 2000s that Cottonseed Oil made its way back into the cooking oil scene and posed as a healthy cooking oil.
Even though Cottonseed oil isn’t from a vegetable, it is still considered a vegetable oil. It is made by husking the seeds to reveal its kernels which can then be cold-pressed to extract its oil. Commercially, Cottonseed oil is extracted mainly through solvent extraction. It is then refined by degumming to remove impurities, neutralized to separate Free Fatty Acids (FFA), bleached to remove residue, deodorized to get rid of volatile substances and winterized to remove saturated triacylglycerols to prevent solidification and low temperatures.
Cottonseed oil is refined in order to remove a toxin known as gossypol. Though it gives the oil its yellow color and protects it from insects, it is toxic for humans and can suppress sperm production and cause liver damage.
What is it used for?
Cottonseed Oil is a member of many kitchen cupboards. Outside of being used to cook food, Cottonseed Oil is used for:
Hair and Skincare
Cottonseed Oil is rich in Vitamin E, fatty acids and antioxidants which can be useful for both hair and skin care.
Cottonseed Oil can be used to hydrate the hair and scalp and prevent and treat dry scalp and dandruff. Applying this oil to your hair can also increase blood circulation and stimulate hair growth. This makes the hair follicles stronger and protects against breakage. Cottonseed Oil can also act as a protective barrier against styling and environmental damage.
Cottonseed Oil can moisturize and soften the skin, which allows it to absorb other topicals easier. It is also helpful in preventing wrinkles and other signs of aging and gives you a nice, bright complexion. Cottonseed Oil also has anti-inflammatory properties which make it perfect for treating ailments such as sunburn.
When applied to scrapes, wounds or burns, the tocopherol in Cottonseed Oil stimulates the growth of new skin cells and speeds up healing. It can also protect against infection.
While some doctors warn against the use of unrefined Cottonseed Oil which contains gossypol, others recommend it for its use in treating cancer. This toxin can suppress the growth of prostate tissues, which reduces the chance of developing prostate cancer. It is also used as a means of killing cancer cells which are resistant to medication and reducing tumor growth.
Improving heart health
While Cottonseed Oil is rich in saturated fats, it is also rich in unsaturated fats such as gamma-linolenic acid which can lower bad cholesterol levels, and increase good cholesterol levels when used properly. This can, in turn, improve blood pressure and decrease the risk of certain cardiovascular disease and stroke.
In one tablespoon of Cottonseed oil, there are:
Total fat: 14g
Saturated fat: 3.5g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g
Monounsaturated Fat: 2.4g
Consuming a tablespoon of Cottonseed oil will give you about 32% of your recommended daily intake, or 5mg of Vitamin E. This vitamin is important for cell metabolism and protects against certain cancers. You will also get about 4% of your daily recommended Vitamin K intake. This vitamin is crucial for blood clotting.
Cottonseed oil also contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which your body does not produce. Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for reducing blood clotting and inflammation. It also helps to dilate blood vessels and lower blood pressure. Omega-6 fatty acids help to reduce your chances of developing cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Type of Fat
Cottonseed Oil is made up of three types of fat namely:
1. Saturated Fat: The American Heart Association recommends a limit of 4g of saturated fat per tablespoon of any cooking oil we choose. Cottonseed Oil provides exactly that amount, which is 16% of your recommended daily intake.
2. Polyunsaturated Fat: Cottonseed Oil contains two different types of polyunsaturated fats or PUFAs. According to the USDA, one tablespoon of Cottonseed Oil contains 2% of the recommended daily intake of linolenic acid omega-3 fatty acids and 58% of the recommended daily intake of linoleic acid, or omega-6 fatty acids.
3. Monounsaturated Fat: Cottonseed Oil only contains a small amount of monounsaturated fats or MUFAs. These are said to boost the HDL, or good cholesterol levels, in the body.
Taste and smell
Cottonseed Oil has a mild odor and taste when freshly pressed. This will not affect the taste of food much.
Cottonseed Oil has a high smoke point of 420°F (or 216°C). This makes it ideal for high heat cooking.
There are many reasons why Cottonseed Oil became so popular. Some of the most noteworthy reasons include:
• It is a good frying oil- Many frying oils are known to mask the flavor of food. Cottonseed Oil, on the other hand, enhances them. It is also a healthier alternative to many other cooking oils, especially other vegetable oils.
• It is good for the skin- Using Cottonseed Oil can boost skin cell regeneration which will improve the overall appearance of the skin, and can help to heal wounds faster, and address certain skin conditions.
• It can help your hair to grow- Since Cottonseed Oil contains Vitamin E, it can help to promote hair growth and prevent hair loss. It can also help to protect your hair against harsh environmental conditions.
Using Cottonseed Oil has noticeable side effects and negatives that cannot be ignored. These include:
• It can have a negative impact on heart health- Even though it is higher in unsaturated fat, there is still a high level of saturated fat, especially after undergoing hydrogenation. This makes excessive use hazardous to heart health and it can even lead to cardiovascular disease.
• It can contain toxins- Aside from gossypol, Cottonseed Oil can contain harmful carcinogenic toxins from herbicides and pesticides. This is because regulations regarding cotton production vary from country to country, and the source of the Cottonseed Oil you just purchased could very well be one with lax regulations. • It can impact reproductive health- While many of us try to avoid oils that have undergone heavy processing, cold-pressed unrefined Cottonseed oil contains a toxin called gossypol which can decrease sperm production and mobility and lessen your chances of having children.
What’s the best way to use it
Cottonseed Oil’s high smoke point should be taken advantage of for deep-frying and stir-frying.
It may also be used in other high heat applications such as searing, sautéing, grilling and roasting.
You may also use it when baking because it won’t change the flavor of your favorite baked goods or foods.
If you are looking for a good alternative for Cottonseed Oil when it comes to high heat cooking, use canola oil or safflower oil.
For a neutral flavor, go with soybean oil.
Things to note
• Cottonseed Oil should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, in an airtight container.
• While cottonseed allergies are rare, you should still perform a patch test to see how your skin will react with it. If you are allergic to cotton, avoid it altogether. Symptoms of an allergic reaction involve swelling of the face, throat or mouth, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. It can even trigger an asthma attack.
• Cottonseed Oil only lasts for 4-6 months. In a refrigerator, it can last for up to a year.
Conclusion- Healthy or Unhealthy?
While Cottonseed Oil has its benefits, there are many healthier alternatives out there. Use it as a last resort. Opt for canola oil or olive oil which can give you the same benefits, with less PUFAs and less saturated fat.