The unsaturated fats found in seed oils are generally healthier than the saturated fats you’d find in meat and dairy products, says Hope Brinkmann, a registered dietitian at Tidelands Health.
The problem? The unsaturated fats in seed oils are generally dominated by omega-6 fatty acids, a reference to their chemical bonding structure. Doctors have been warning for at least a decade that Western diets are dangerously heavy in omega-6 fatty acids, setting the stage for hypertension and inflammation.
The concern drives some to choose cooking oils with a different chemical structure, called omega-3 fatty acids.
Popular omega-3 oils include fish oil, flaxseed oil, avocado oil and olive oil (especially “extra virgin” olive oil, a reference to olives that have been only minimally processed and therefore retain the most omega-3 fatty acids).
The advantage to omega-3 fatty acids is that they have a chemical structure that has been linked to a number of heart and other health benefits, Brinkmann says.