The Hidden Dangers of Seed Oils: What You Need to Know

The Hidden Dangers of Seed Oils: What You Need to Know

Seed oils have become ubiquitous in modern diets and personal care products. Marketed for their affordability and perceived health benefits, these oils are found in everything from processed foods to skincare and haircare products. However, growing evidence suggests that seed oils pose significant health risks. We're going to share our findings about problems associated with seed oils, which led to us personally redesign our lifestyle and diet choices.

What Are Seed Oils?

Seed oils are extracted from the seeds of various plants. Common examples include:

  • Canola Oil: Derived from rapeseed.
  • Soybean Oil: Extracted from soybeans.
  • Corn Oil: Sourced from corn kernels.
  • Sunflower Oil: Made from sunflower seeds.
  • Cottonseed Oil: Obtained from cotton seeds.

These oils are often refined, bleached, and deodorized to make them suitable for consumption and use in various products.

Seed Oils in Our Diet

Seed oils are prevalent in the modern diet, particularly in processed foods. Here are some of the main issues associated with their consumption:

  1. High Omega-6 Fatty Acids

    • Imbalance: Seed oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids, which, in excess, can lead to an imbalance with omega-3 fatty acids. This imbalance has been linked to chronic inflammation, a contributing factor in many diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
    • Statistics: According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the Western diet is approximately 16:1, far from the ideal 1:1 ratio recommended by health experts .
  2. Oxidation and Free Radicals

    • Processing: The refining process of seed oils often involves high heat and chemical treatments, which can cause the oils to oxidize and produce harmful free radicals.
    • Health Risks: Consuming oxidized oils has been linked to oxidative stress, which damages cells and contributes to aging and diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
  3. Trans Fats

    • Hydrogenation: Some seed oils undergo partial hydrogenation, creating trans fats that are known to increase the risk of heart disease.
    • Regulations: Despite regulations to reduce trans fats, studies have shown that trace amounts can still be found in many processed foods.

What this Looks Like in Your Daily Life

Generally avoid highly processed foods, including fast food. Chips, snacking puffs, sauces, marinades, salad dressings, and other convenience snacks and meals all contain a high Omega-6 ratio.

Seed Oils in Skincare and Haircare

Seed oils are also commonly used in skincare and haircare products. While some seed oils can be beneficial, the following issues are associated with many commercially used seed oils:

  1. Comedogenic Properties

    • Pore-Clogging: Oils like soybean and corn oil have high comedogenic ratings, meaning they can clog pores and lead to acne and other skin issues.
  2. Allergenic Potential

    • Skin Reactions: Seed oils can cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. For example, soybean oil contains proteins that can trigger skin allergies.
  3. Oxidative Damage

    • Rancidity: Seed oils are prone to becoming rancid when exposed to air, light, and heat. Rancid oils can cause oxidative damage to the skin, leading to premature aging and irritation.
  4. Hormonal Disruption

    • Endocrine Disruptors: Some seed oils contain compounds that can act as endocrine disruptors, interfering with hormone function. This is particularly concerning for products used on the skin, as these compounds can be absorbed into the bloodstream.

Expert Opinions and Research

Dr. Cate Shanahan, a leading nutritionist and author of Deep Nutrition, highlights the risks of seed oils, stating, "The biggest problem with seed oils is that they are loaded with polyunsaturated fats, which are highly unstable and prone to oxidation. This leads to inflammation and cellular damage, setting the stage for chronic diseases" .

A study published in Nutrients emphasizes, "The excessive consumption of omega-6 fatty acids from seed oils, combined with a deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids, creates a pro-inflammatory state, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease and other inflammatory conditions" .

In terms of skincare and sun protection specifically, linoleic acid, the most common Omega-6 fatty acid, aggravates UV skin damage while topical cholesterol (found in our beef tallow used in the Original Sunbutter) protects the skin from UV induced damage (Byun et. al). So watch out for those “All Natural” sunscreens that often contain ingredients like rapeseed, sunflower, and/or safflower oils.

So What Can We Do About It?

The widespread use of seed oils in our food and personal care products poses significant health risks. From contributing to chronic inflammation and oxidative stress to causing skin issues and hormonal disruption, these oils are far from benign. To protect your health, consider reducing your intake of processed foods containing seed oils and opting for natural, unrefined oils in your diet and skincare routine. At Daybreak, we advocate for the use of wholesome, natural ingredients that promote true health and well-being. Make informed choices and prioritize products that support your body's natural balance.


  1. Simopoulos, A. P. (2002). The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, 56(8), 365-379.
  2. Mozaffarian, D., Katan, M. B., Ascherio, A., Stampfer, M. J., & Willett, W. C. (2006). Trans fatty acids and cardiovascular disease. New England Journal of Medicine, 354(15), 1601-1613.
  3. Shanahan, C. (2016). Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food. Flatiron Books.
  4. Patterson, E., Wall, R., Fitzgerald, G. F., Ross, R. P., & Stanton, C. (2012). Health implications of high dietary omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, 2012.
  5. Byun HJ, Cho KH, Eun HC, Lee MJ, Lee Y, Lee S, Chung JH. Lipid ingredients in moisturizers can modulate skin responses to UV in barrier-disrupted human skin in vivo. J Dermatol Sci. 2012 Feb;65(2):110-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jdermsci.2011.12.005. Epub 2011 Dec 13. PMID: 22209282.