• Your life and health are your own responsibility.
• Your decisions to act (or not act) based on information or advice anyone provides you—including me—are your own responsibility.


The Term “Vegetable Oil” Is False Advertising (Updated)

Vegetable oil solvent extractor plant, China.

The term “vegetable oil” sounds healthy, because vegetables are healthy, right? Lettuce, broccoli, peppers, cucumbers…

…but that’s not what “vegetable oil” is made from. It’s made from grains, seeds, and beans.

  • Corn oil: grain
  • “Canola” (rapeseed) oil: seed
  • Soybean oil: bean
  • Sunflower oil: seed
  • Safflower oil: seed
  • Peanut oil: bean. Yes, peanuts are beans, not nuts.
  • Sesame oil: seed
  • Cottonseed oil: seed

(The exceptions are olive oil, coconut oil, and red palm oil…all of which are fruits.)

“Grain oil” and “seed oil” just don’t have the same healthy implications, do they?

Not to mention that, with the exception of fruits like olive and coconut (and a few oddballs like cold-pressed peanut oil), all “vegetable” oils are extracted using the poisonous solvent hexane—and this chemical process is responsible for over two-thirds of the hexane emissions in the United States. Soybean processing facilities emit a gallon of hexane for each ton of soybeans processed—which means a large soy processing plant emits over five million pounds of hexane per year!

Even more importantly, hexane processing strips the remaining nutrients from the oil, and turns a significant quantity of polyunsaturated fats into inflammatory, artery-clogging trans fats! (Anywhere from 0.5% to 4.2% of the total, according to this paper…and you won’t see them on the nutrition label, either.) Since replacing just 2% of calories with dietary trans fat is associated with a doubling of death risk from cardiovascular disease, this is a significant health issue.

“Vegetable oil” isn’t a food. It’s an industrial product, and it has no place in our diet.

Let’s start calling it what it is—seed oil

—and let’s put it where it belongs—in our cars.


PS: Help spread this healthy meme by forwarding this article around, and by using the term “seed oil” instead of “vegetable oil”! I guarantee it’ll start a conversation, and you’ll be able to educate people about healthy eating. This involves meat, eggs, vegetables, fruits, and recognizable ingredients minimally processed, not industrial products like ‘soy milk’ and ‘veggie-burgers’. Furthermore, it involves cooking with butter, tallow, and coconut oil in moderation, not industrial products like ‘margarine’ or ‘vegetable oil’. Click here to find out more!

(Since most olive oil and coconut oil is not chemically extracted, moderate amounts of olive or coconut oil (preferably virgin and cold-pressed) qualify as food. Note that the USDA has recently updated regulations that bring the USA into line with the rest of the world regarding labeling: chemically extracted olive oil must be called “olive pomace oil”.)


Permalink: The Term “Vegetable Oil” Is False Advertising (Updated)
  • Craig Curtin

    You should also investigate Coconut oil – extracted the natural way, cold pressed.

    It is by far the healthiest oil of the lot for cooking etc.

    We should all go back to using natural oils and fats for cooking – just like our great grandparents before industrialisation came on the scene – grass raised beef fat (tallow) and free range pig fat (lard)

    Butter on your bread (preferably from grass fed beef) instead of margarine that is laced with industrialised oils.


  • Craig:

    That's an excellent point, and I've revised the article to add coconut oil. I completely forgot about coconuts!

    I'm not a big fan of lard because it's nearly impossible to find non-hydrogenated lard in the store. I use trimmings from the local grass-fed butcher to make tallow, although I sometimes break down and buy a big lump of suet because it's cleaner.

    You're absolutely correct about natural oils and fats. If possible, we should buy fatty cuts of meat in the first place…it's silly to trim all the fat off, and then add it back in a different form because the meat is too dry to cook properly! 

    Thanks for the reminder.  Lacking a staff of paid fact-checkers, I depend on my readers to point out anything I've missed.


  • 042611 – Tuesd

    […] tallow. These are healthy fats: they don’t oxidize or polymerize during cooking the way that seed oilsdo, they don’t contain hidden trans fats, and they have low to zero omega-6 fat content. I […]

  • 042611 – Tuesd

    […] tallow. These are healthy fats: they don’t oxidize or polymerize during cooking the way that seed oilsdo, they don’t contain hidden trans fats, and they have low to zero omega-6 fat content. I […]

  • I hear you LOUD AND CLEAR about this. I do have a question though about rapeseed oil – is it okay if it is cold pressed?

    Olive oil seems tolerated so long as it is cold pressed and not heat extracted which can oxidise the oil and so long as it is fresh and not left too long (again, possibly able to oxidise).

    It might be a cross-Atlantic misinterpretation since we do get Canola and Mazola and other horrible Monsantesque filth, but the rapeseed oil I buy is cold pressed. It is “extra virgin” cold pressed and pressed only once – it is a gourmet oil and intended to be a rival to the rather ubiquitous olive oil. It is from my home country and the fields are within 50 miles of my house. This is the stuff: http://www.yorkshiresoriginal.co.uk/.

    I can kind of see Grok feeling happy with himself after sitting on an olive or an avocado and noticing the oil having squeezed out … how shiny it looked on his fingers as he rubbed it between finger and thumb. Not sure about rapeseed, though … I’ll have to go squeeze some and see if it as easy as the guys at Yorkshire Original make out.

  • Paul:

    My theory is: if I wouldn't eat it otherwise, I don't eat the oil extracted from it.

    Rapeseeds (known as “canolas”, in North America) are seeds…so on the theory that seeds don't like to be eaten, I avoid them for the same reason I avoid other grains.  Cold pressing is less damaging to the lipids than heat and solvent processing — but like “whole grains”, it also leaves in far more of the anti-nutrients.

    Olives and avocados are fruit, and plants intend their fruits to be eaten: the seeds (the toxic part) are separate from the fruit.

    That being said, both olives and avocados have significant n-6 content, which I do my best to minimize, and essentially zero n-3.  Consequently, I treat olive oil as a condiment: basically I use a splash for salad dressing, and that's it.  For cooking I exclusively use clarified butter, coconut oil (usually refined, because I don't like all my cooking to taste like coconuts), and beef tallow.


  • Thanks JS – that is sound advice: “if I wouldn’t eat it, I wouldn’t want the oil extracted from it”.

    I can appreciate that but you know I’ll go my own way … looking at the side of the bottle, I see some interesting facts; that within 100ml of the Yorkshire Original Rapeseed oil I am getting 99.8g of fat or which 62.3g is monounsaturate, 26.1g polyunsaturated and 7.0g saturated. The majority is the lesser of the evil fats 🙂 I also get almost no protein, no carbohydrate, no sodium, a mere 8.1g of Omega-3 (it does not state how much Omega-6, or what the balance is … I’ll probe them some more) and a good pack of Vitamin E.

    I contacted the company to ask them a little more about the product and the process … and, I’ve been invited to visit the farm so I will try a bud/seed of the stuff and see if I want to eat it!

    By e-mail, they said: “Our oil is so simple, it will not take long to tell you about it!

    Firstly, it is illegal in this country to grow genetically modified crops, so the seed that we use is GM free, any alterations to the makeup of the seed have been made by natural progression, for example disease resistance.

    We are farmers based near Wetherby, and all the seed we use has been grown by ourselves or our next door neighbours. It is all grown to our specification, so variety and any treatments have been agreed by ourselves.

    The seed is generally planted in August, and then we apply a weedkiller in September, October when the seeds are in danger of being overrun by weeds. After that we do not do anything to the crop. Unless there is a major problem which we have not had for the past 4 years. The crop is then harvested the following July.

    There are two methods of harvesting the seed. We use the traditional method of swathing, this means that we go through the crop with a sharp knife and cut off the seed bearing stalk so that it lies on the stalk in the ground, this keeps it off the ground so that it can die naturally using the wind and the sun as a natural dryer. The more normal way is to dessicate the crop with a weedkiller such as Roundup a Glyphosate, this means that the crop dies on its feet. Less risky but we are happier knowing that no chemicals have been used so close to harvest.

    After that the crop is picked up by the combine and the seeds shaken out, taken into store and kept until required for oil.

    To press the oil we pass it through a simple screw press which gently squeezes out the oil, no heat or chemicals are applied. The oil is then filtered and bottled and that really is that.

    So if you are wanting a naturally grown oil Rapeseed oil is the best bet. Unlike Olive oil we do not blend oils to achieve the required levels to be able to call it Extra Virgin it just is Extra Virgin!”

    This is a simple farm of three people! I will visit them … and I will eat their oil. I love the colour and, I’m happy to treat it as a condiment. I do not cook with it, I do not use it much … I use it in vinaigrettes with fruit vinegars (lingon and apple, elderberry, etc) to make a colourful splash over some salads. It’s not a major part of my diet and used for colour, maybe once or twice a week in one or two meals.

    I like it – it’s local to me and satisfies my “local, pure and natural” mantra. I’ll keep it as a “treat/cheat” … it’s not like I gulp down litres of soda a day.

    As with all I am learning – I will consider what is put before me and consider it well. Thanks for the reply. Again, sound advice.

  • Paul:

    You don't need to apologize to me, or to anyone else, for your dietary choices.  Buy a bottle and try it out!  Then you'll be able to make a reasonable decision around how much and how often to use it.

    I confess I had no idea there was even such a thing as artisanal canola!


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  • MadScientist

    For those thinking that they can get away with cold-pressed Rapeseed Oil and not face problems here’s this to ponder:

    Rapeseed Oil comprises 60% of the EU’s Biodiesel production at this time. (As pointed out…if it’ll run in a diesel engine straight or with transesterifcation, you probably don’t want to eat it…)

    Rapeseed Oil contains up to 45% Eurcic Acid. Canola is a cultivar of the Rape plant that originated from Canada (hence the name…) that only typically produces 1-2% in the oil that’s produced from the seeds and doesn’t contain other objectionable fatty acids that affect taste (Another hint…if it tastes nasty…).

    Eurcic Acid’s a known and problematic toxin. 1-2% is all the US allows in Rapeseed Oil. 5’s the limit in the EU. In the early 70’s, approximately 500-1000 people in Spain died from Toxic Oil Syndrome, an unusual disease brought on from exposure to this stuff. How did they get exposed? Someone sold industrial Rapeseed Oil, which isn’t checked to Eurcic Acid content, as cooking Rapeseed Oil. Eurcic Acid’s the reason why Mustard Oil’s largely banned for food uses in Europe and elsewhere.

    Honestly…I’m finding out enough in the Seed and Bean oil space to give me the heebie-jeebies. Why would ANYONE want to ingest Canola, in light of these details? I sure as hell don’t.

  • That's some really useful points, Mad Scientist – something to follow up on.

    The emotives are amusing, though, like “if you can run an engine on it, you don't want to ingest it”. Well, I can run an engine on vodka, which I definitely like drinking … and coconut oil is a principle ingredient in car wax, but I'll still eat the stuff – coconut oil, not car wax.

    The facts are always good enough without the diversions.

  • […] may have noticed that I keep putting vegetable in quotations. I do this because “vegetable oil” is quite a misnomer: Not to mention that, with the exception of fruits like olive and coconut (and a few oddballs like […]

  • Andy

    Just wondering – what is your thoughts on the refined coconut oil you use?

  • […] process of extracting seed oils from soybeans or corn a disturbing series of chemical reactions (involving hexane, taking place in chemical plants that look a lot like oil refineries) leaves behind dehulled, […]

  • Andy:

    I've tried many different brands of refined coconut oil, organic and non-organic, cold-pressed and cheap industrial.  They all taste basically the same — with the exception of the stuff from Wilderness Family Naturals, which actually lives up to their hype of being perceptibly cleaner and purer.  I use it for most cooking, and buy the cheap stuff for deep-frying.  (It's not “cold-processed” anymore once you put it in a fryer!)

    If I want the nutrition of a whole coconut product, I'll just use coconut milk (aka “coconut cream”), not coconut oil, and make a Thai curry or something.  I'm not sure the tiny amount of coconut-smelling compounds in “virgin” oil make much of a health difference.


  • pam

    there is cold-pressed sesame oil tho. (although traditionally it is rarely used in Chinese cooking cause it is more $$$$; it is used mostly for seasoning)


  • pam


    sorry me again.

    do you know the amount of residual hexane in seed oils?
    my guess is it’s few tenths of ppm?

    i have yet to find any toxicity dosage. the research is very scanty.

    OSHA only lists some for inhaling.

    (not that seed oil is good. but i would also like not to sound paranoid when i was discussing w/ others)


  • pam:

    If I recall correctly, there's not much hexane left in the oil itself: the main issue is pollution as it's emitted from the processing plant into the atmosphere.


  • […] “The term ‘vegetable oil’ is false advertising” from Gnolls.org This entry was posted in Workout of the Day by Todd. Bookmark the permalink. […]

  • Paleobird

    Hi JS,
    Any thoughts on avocado oil? I’m not sure if it is extracted from the pit or the flesh of the fruit.

  • From t'internet: 

    There are a number of ways to produce oil from avocados, each has it's advantages and disadvantages, generally the trade-off is between quantity and quality. The average avocado contains 10-20% oil. Typically, in the first step the entire fruit of the avocado is crushed, however the pit is discarded before processing because it is mildly toxic. Then the remaining pulp is ground up and water is added. The oil then floats to the top and can be skimmed off. Similar to olive oil, lower temperature processings (less than 95 degrees) is labeled “cold pressed.” In order to facilitate breaking down the pulp and oil separation, heated water is often added, though this reduces the quality, both in terms of flavor and shelf stability.

    Another method of separation includes the use of a centrifuge, which spins the pulp (usually with less water) causing the oil to separate because it has a lower density.

    Industrially, I guess the centrifuge method would be the most cost-effective. Who's guessing that the pulp is then re-oiled with cheap “vegetable oil” and sold in cartons as Guacamole?

  • Paul:

    You beat me to this one…good job.

    The fat profile is similar to olive oil, so I wouldn't use it as a primary cooking oil (too much n-6 PUFA)…but it might be tasty as an occasional alternative to olive oil in salad dressing.


  • I “beef” up guacamole with it sometimes.

    From another angle, like extra virgin olive oil, I think the flavour is too strong for use as a general cooking oil. It's a good salad dressing.

  • […] tallow. These are healthy fats: they don’t oxidize or polymerize during cooking the way that seed oilsdo, they don’t contain hidden trans fats, and they have low to zero omega-6 fat content. I […]

  • Peggy Bay

    What do you think about walnut oil? I believe it has a 2-1 ratio of omega 6 and omega 3’s.

  • Peggy Bay:

    Walnut oil is more like 40:1 n-6 to n-3…it's about 60% PUFA, of which only 1.5% is n-3.  Therefore, I don't recommend it.


  • Maarburg


    No vegetables in vegetable oil… I, I didn’t know!

  • Maarburg:

    +1 for correct use of Sudden Clarity Clarence.


  • […] makeup of your brain, and substituting vegetable oils for animal fat changes things up even more.  Vegetable oils are extracted with vicious chemicals till they come out a disgusting mess, and are then bleached to […]

  • […] is it so hard to find things fried in lard these days? I would eat taters fried in lard. Exactly. The Term “Vegetable Oil” Is False Advertising (Updated) - GNOLLS.ORG Well-behaved women rarely make history : Laurel Thatcher Ulrich My New Primal Journal : […]

  • Gordon Chen

    Thanks for making this page. I had always felt strongly against veg oil and wanna warn people about it, but I knew I couldn’t rant about it: Vegetable oil is one of those things you’d sound crazy to complain about, because it’s touted as a health food. Anyway, I posted this on FB today and got tons of responses. I’d been waiting for a link like this to post on FB!

  • Gordon:

    Thank you!  Do stick around and read some of my other articles, which I believe are equally informative or more so.  You can start at the index.


  • […] you're not eating the industrial seed oils The Term “Vegetable Oil” Is False Advertising (Updated) - GNOLLS.ORG and if you are eating mostly grass fed critters, I don't really think the O3 enhanced eggs are […]

  • Nota puss

    You sound like a huge liberal tree hugging pussy.

  • Nota puss:

    I love industrial lubricants — just not in my food.


  • […] Oil, more correctly called “seed” oil is unhealthy for a few reasons. First, the majority of the fat present in these oils is […]

  • olina

    Very much agree with

  • tony

    wow! Can’t believe i’ve always bought vegetable oil thinking its vegetable, such liars these companies are. Thanks so much for opening my eyes, i just poured out my last bottle!

  • […] process of extracting seed oils from soybeans or corn (a disturbing series of chemical reactions involving hexane, taking place in chemical plants that look a lot like oil refineries) leaves behind dehulled, […]

  • […] for dinner. Typically, 50-60% of my daily calories are from fat (and none of that from so-called vegetable oils). I’ve been eating like this for three years and my blood-cholesterol readings remain in the […]

  • melody

    The oils that I use are coconut, avocado, olive, and peanut. I cook everything in coconut oil and use avocado oil and olive oil on my salads. Peanut oil I use just for making my own natural peanut butter.

    It is very interesting to hear how they make these oils and I am definitely more informed now about the process but I can’t just stop using these oils as they are are a big part of my diet.

  • melody:

    Coconuts and olives are fruits, as I mentioned in the article, and their fat isn’t extracted via the crazy chemical processes used for seed oils. I use both coconut and olive oil myself!

    Also, though I didn’t mention them, avocados are fruits too, and I believe their fat is also extracted mechanically. I don’t use avocado oil myself due to the taste and fat profile, but in moderation it’s probably fine.

    Peanut oil I still avoid, primarily due to high n-6 content, even if it is cold-pressed. Same with grapeseed oil…although I do confess to using an occasional bit of toasted sesame oil for flavoring, as many Asian dishes just don’t taste right without it.

    Mainly it’s important to avoid the pale yellow stuff in big bottles: corn oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, and canola oil are all produced via the industrial processes detailed above, and all have a terrible fat profile (not to mention a propensity to oxidize during cooking).


  • christopher

    I started seeing articles in the wall street journal regarding animal fat nearly two years ago. They were warning investors in aggrabiz. that a change was coming. It turns out these seed oils are responsible for some very significant health issues today. One of the most interesting articles i read was about drug company Merck . they purchased a patent of a drug for humans that increases mussel and fat. it was used to help cancer , anorexia , ms patients . merck is getting fda approval for its use in animals (cows ,pigs). The article explained that our low fat diet required young animals that were also low in fat. Also there was no need for fat animals because we use veg.oil. They needed to jump start the maturation processes of producing these animals. they intend to use this drug to mature the animals faster. The article also said there was going to be a need for lard and tallow in the near future . Today there saying animal fat is OK. tomorrow they’ll say is necessary, and soon they’ll say veg. oil is bad. They already know and now you do too.

  • christopher:

    I’m sure Big Ag knows exactly how unhealthy their products are…but, like all corporations (especially public ones), only short-term profitability factors into their decisions. And regardless of how they change their products, much of the problem is industrial-scale production itself. See my article “Real Food Is Not Fungible”.


  • […] tallow. These are healthy fats: they don’t oxidize or polymerize during cooking the way that seed oils do, they don’t contain hidden trans fats, and they have low to zero omega-6 fat content. I […]

  • […] mentira. Não existe tal coisa como “óleo de alface” ou “óleo de brócolos”. Eles são feitos a partir de sementes, e eles são extraídos usando solventes orgânicos venenosos (hexano). Lembre-se: se você pode […]

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