The Truth About Why I’m Avoiding Seed Oils

Much like going gluten-free, avoiding food dye, and many other nutritional lifestyle changes, an emerging trend in health foods is the avoidance of seed oils. I hate to call any of these “trends” though because I think it’s really just about us becoming more aware of the products we consume. I saw an Instagram reel recently that said millennials will be known for slowing things back down and learning that when it comes to food especially, convenience comes at a cost — and that cost is our health.

What’s the Harm In Seed Oils?

So, why are people avoiding seed oils? And what exactly are seed oils? Known as the hateful eight, oils like corn, canola, vegetable, soybean, sunflower, safflower, rice bran, and grapeseed are all seed oils because they are derived from the seed of said plant. The harm does not lie in the plant it’s made from, but rather in the process of extracting the oil. If the seeds were simply pressed to produce oil, that would not be so bad. But oftentimes companies use a chemical extractor (for speed and efficiency’s sake) and other synthetic processes like bleaching, which is where the danger lies. And it’s safe to assume that these large manufacturers are also using other additives and preservatives in their processes.

Seed oils are most often used in processed foods since they cost much less than other oils. If you think that your safety is the main concern of these companies, think again. Not to mention if this is a food item that requires reheating, that can create even more carcinogens.

Beef Tallow Edited

Better Alternatives to Seed Oils

So, how do we avoid them — and what’s the solution? The safe list of oils includes olive, avocado, coconut, beef tallow, ghee, and butter. Be mindful of labels, and learn how to scan them quickly. One of my friends has celiac disease, and she taught me the quick way to check labels for gluten, and that’s through the bolded words at the end. It usually says “contains milk or wheat.” Unfortunately, there’s no cheat sheet for oils just yet, so you will have to scour the label, but you do get used to it. As a polyunsaturated fat, these oils contain the healthier omega-3 fats, which can improve your heart and cardiovascular health, quite the opposite of their omega-6 counterparts.

READ: Easy Ways to Incorporate Healthy Fats Into Your Diet

We have always used olive oil and grass-fed butter in cooking, so this was not a huge adjustment for us. Beef tallow is just as delicious as butter and great for cooking things like eggs. Coconut oil is a wonderful baking alternative because it’s sweet and we even like to melt it on top of our popcorn to create almost a kettle corn when you add salt! Avocado oil is delicious, as is avocado oil-based mayo, which is now even available at wholesale stores like Costco.

If you are fine with it, some companies have started to list when their oils are “high linoleic” oils, which means they were pressed without chemicals. When my kids want a specific snack, I have found this to be a suitable alternative. But a lot of food brands, like Jackson’s Sweet Potato Chips, are stepping up and refusing to use them. You can find this avocado oil chip brand at Costco now, which is amazing because they are deliciously addicting! Another favorite of my family’s is Siete Tortilla or Potato Chips, which can be found on Thrive Market or Amazon and in some Publix stores.

Support Local: Meet Ponte Vedra Olive Oil

In my quest to eat cleaner and healthier, I stumbled across Ponte Vedra Olive Oil, a local company right down the road from me (they also ship locally in Jax for FREE for orders $35+). The owner’s story is much like mine in that she has tried many different trends — like low fat in the ’90s and paleo after that for years — but now chooses not to restrict certain entire food groups and instead focus on real, whole foods. Their olive oil has been tested, harvested, crushed, and bottled within the last two years. When you taste fresh olive oil, not one that’s sat on the shelf for years, it will blow your mind. At PVOO, their latest batch of olive oils has been harvested, crushed, and bottled during the most recent fall harvest season of November 2023. You can’t beat that level of freshness!

Olive oil is one we have been using the longest historically and there are many different types, depending on how strong you like the flavor. The most common are extra virgin olive oil (a.k.a. EVOO from the Rachel Ray days, anyone??), virgin, olive oil (the OG), and light olive oil. Learn more about many of the flavor differences here.

READ: Farm to Table: Local Farmers Markets

I love to support local whenever possible over a big box store, so I made the switch and haven’t looked back. Just like I prefer buying eggs, chicken, and beef from farmers at my local farmers market, I’d much rather support a local company.

This is the author’s perspective, and she is not a nutritional professional.

Meagan Vesta
Midwest-natives Meagan and her husband Matt first moved to Jacksonville in 2011 and have lived all over town from the beaches to St. John's County. They now own a small farm in Nassau County along with their two sons and two rescue dogs. This year they are starting a market garden featuring fresh, locally-grown produce and you can follow along on their journey at @vestafamilyfarms! Meagan has been a full-time working mom, a stay-at-home mom, and now a work-from-home mom for Jax Mom while homeschooling her two boys and helping run the farm. They enjoy watching their sons play little league along with Jumbo Shrimp games and also enjoy fishing and boating in Jax whenever they can!


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