Seed oils are a group of inflammatory seed oils that are linked to inflammation and other health conditions. They are in all kinds of pastries, restaurant food, and “healthy” granola bars. We dedicated an entire month of #SuperHeroYou2022 on saying goodbye to seed oils. But there are many different kinds of seed oils… Are they all bad?
What about sesame oil? Is sesame oil better than vegetable oil?
Sesame seeds have been utilized for thousands of years as an important food source and for medicinal purposes. They must be super healthy, right? Also, it’s a central element of Asian cuisine. We know some of you can’t go without it.
Remember that the whole seed is different from the seed oil.
It is important to differentiate the health benefits from the seed itself versus seed oil. The seed found in nature is filled with health benefits. When the seed is converted to an oil, it is processed and refined, and many of the health benefits are lost.
However, sesame seeds have been bred for centuries specifically to create sesame oil. That means that manufacturers can extract the oil from sesame seeds without having the use the same extreme heat, pressure, and solvents that are used for the Hateful Eight.
Some historians believe that sesame oil was the world’s first cultivated seed oil. Think all the way back to the fifth century. Obviously back then, the extraction methods weren’t like they are with modern seed oils.
Yes, sesame oil is better than vegetable oil, but quality and how you use it matter.
Sesame oil is unique in that it has 74% more saturated fat than other seed oils. Saturated fat is much more stable than other types of fat and thus less likely to oxidize into harmful byproducts in our body. Plus, this saturated fat helps to protect against the highly unstable polyunsaturated fat to a certain degree.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are found in high amounts in seed oils, with little saturated or monounsaturated fat to help protect the unstable PUFA.
However, you should exercise caution when cooking with high heat. Sesame oil does contain many polyunsaturated fats that will oxidize and create free radicals in your body. Excessive free radicals are linked to systemic inflammation and destruction of critical cell parts such as cell membranes, mitochondria, and DNA.
Choose a high quality sesame oil and use it for low temperature cooking or even better, use it raw!
Raw vs Toasted Sesame Seeds
There are conflicting studies that show that roasting sesame seeds significantly affects their nutrient content. Some vitamins and amino acids can be destroyed from the heat. Other studies show that roasting sesame seeds can reduce their oxalates and phytates levels. These are natural compounds that can slow or inhibit nutrient absorption. A similar argument can also be made about nuts. Based on these studies, it appears that there are some benefits to roasted and other benefits to raw sesame seeds.
From a PUFA perspective, because of the higher amount of saturated fat, compared to other seeds, along with the nutrients and antioxidants, it is likely that these components will help protect the unstable PUFA, especially if the toasting isn’t long and with extreme heat.
This likely would be positive news, as most sesame seed oils are toasted to enhance their nutty flavor. Most Asian sesame oils used toasted sesame seeds.
Your best bet for cooking is to choose an unrefined and organic sesame seed oil and use raw or cook with low temperatures. This is the best chance at protecting the nutrients and minimizing the PUFAs that will oxidize. A refined sesame oil, on the other hand, will be more processed (and stripped of many nutrients) and be able to withstand slightly higher temperatures.
An even better option is to eat sesame oil raw. In other words, use it in dishes that don’t require heat or to add it after the cooking is finished. Many Asian dishes use sesame seed oil raw to drizzle over the prepared meal, for added flavor.
In our opinion, an organic and unrefined sesame seed oil served raw is the best way to enjoy the oil and its benefits.
As far as cooking oils go, we believe there are better, more stable alternatives.
Unrefined avocado or extra virgin olive oil are more stable than sesame for cooking. If animal products aren’t a problem for you, our favorite cooking fats/oils include grass fed ghee, tallow, or saturated fat found in meats. Grass fed butter also makes a good choice when using lower temperatures. Again, quality always matters! Make sure you are sourcing pure avocado oil, fresh olive oil, and grass fed or pastured animal fats.
If you strongly want to cook with sesame seed oil, go for it, as it’s a better option than other seed oils. But beware of heating the oil past medium heat. Also, don’t forget to take good care of the oil by storing it in a dark and cool place. Store in an opaque glass container with a tight lid if possible.
Have you heard about the dangers of seed oils and want to know more?
Are you overwhelmed with all the options and information out there?
From the bestselling authors of My SuperHero Foods comes The Ultimate Guide to Avoiding Seed Oils in Your Kitchen, which cuts through the confusion about healthy vs. unhealthy fats by providing a helpful balance of practical tips and background information so you feel confident deciding what fats to buy and cook with.
Like us, you care about your family’s health, and we want to help empower you to make informed (and delicious!) decisions.
The latest scientific research shows that highly-processed and refined seed oils like soybean oil, safflower oil, canola oil, and generic “vegetable oil” can be linked to many health conditions and diseases, including metabolic dysfunction, poor immune response, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, disruption of the gut biome, autoimmune disease, fatigue, mood disorders, and more. These industrialized fats are stripped of their nutritional value, which is then replaced by toxic byproducts that wreak havoc on our bodies.
Luckily, there are lots of healthy and tasty alternatives to these harmful oils!
In this comprehensive and easy-to-read guide, you’ll learn:
- What seed oils are, where they came from, and why they’re so unhealthy
- How to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy fats
- Where oils like sesame oil and peanut oil fit on the spectrum
- Our recommendations of the best fats to cook with
- Helpful tips about buying, storing, and cooking with each fat
The guide also includes a printable quick reference chart that you can use at home or in the store.
Ditch those seed oils and choose your health today by ordering The Ultimate Guide to Avoiding Seed Oils in Your Kitchen!