Grapeseed oil has recently gained popularity as an oil that is healthy for our heart. Produced from the seeds of the grapes that are left behind after the winemaking process, this oil is prized for its neutral flavor.
It has also been marketed as a healthy alternative to cooking oil and a great beauty product as well. However, the health benefits of grapeseed oil have been controversial at best.
While some experts believe that the chemical process used to extract this oil leaves traces of harmful chemicals like hexane in the oil, others speculate that the high levels of omega-6 may cause inflammation.
Let us learn more about this oil, its health benefits, and its side effects.
Grapeseed oil nutritional facts
Grape seed oil contains high amounts of phenolic compounds, fatty acids, and vitamins. It also contains cholesterol-lowering polyunsaturated fatty acids.
One teaspoon of grapeseed oil contains (1)
- Calories: 40
- Total fat: 4.5 grams
- Poly and monounsaturated fatty acids: 3.9 grams
- Saturated fatty acids: 0.4 grams
- Vitamin E: 1.3 mg
Health benefits of grapeseed oil
Grapeseed oil has several health benefits. It is an excellent source of vitamin E and essential fatty acids. It is also rich in antioxidants.
1. Excellent source of vitamin E
Grapeseed oil is an excellent source of vitamin E. In fact, it contains double the amount of vitamin E present in olive oil. This fat-soluble antioxidant helps the body from the damaging effects of free radicals that can lead to cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses.
Vitamin E also boosts the immune system, especially in the aged (2). One tablespoon of grapeseed oil contains 9 mg of vitamin E, which is around 19 percent of the RDA.
2. Rich in Omega-6 fatty acids
Grapeseed oil is exceptionally rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) like omega-6 fatty acids. According to the American Heart Association, PUFA is beneficial for the heart.
Grapeseed oil contains linoleic acid, which is a type of omega-6 fatty acid that does not increase the blood levels of inflammatory markers (3). Linoleic acid is converted into gamma-linoleic acid once we digest it.
GLA can lower cholesterol levels and inflammation (4). According to one study published in The International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition, consumption of grapeseed oil is more beneficial than sunflower oil when it comes to inflammation and insulin resistance in overweight women (5).
When animals eat linoleic acid, it gets converted into conjugated linoleic acid in their guts. This conjugated linoleic acid, which is found in grass fed beef and raw cow’s milk, helps in reducing the risk of cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease and also helps in weight loss.
3. High smoke point
Oils containing polyunsaturated fatty acids are not considered the best choice for cooking as they can oxidize quickly and become toxic.
However, grapeseed oil has a much higher smoke point as compared to olive oil and other polyunsaturated fatty acids. Grapeseed oil has a smoke point of around 400 degrees Fahrenheit which makes it the ideal for sautéing on low heat but not for deep frying.
If possible, use cold pressed oil as a natural remedy.
4. Does not contain trans-fats and hydrogenated fats
Grapeseed oil does not contain any trans-fats and hydrogenated fats. Trans fats are extremely harmful to health, and they are also banned in some cases.
Trans fats can add to the risk of heart attacks, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. They raise your LDL and decrease your HDL.
5. Good for skin health
Grapeseed oil has numerous nutrients which make it the ideal choice for many cosmetic products. It is rich in vitamin E, D, and C, which can help in reducing wrinkles and scars.
It is non-comedogenic, which means it does not clog pores. It is an excellent moisturizer as it penetrates the skin quickly and doesn’t make it oily.
It also contains polyphenols and antioxidants which help treat acne and prevent breakouts. Grapeseed oil contains linoleic acid which helps in reducing inflammation in the skin’s middle and outer layers. Linoleic acid also helps in treating eczema.
6. Helps improve hair and scalp
Grapeseed oil can add moisture, strength and shine to your hair. This non-greasy oil helps improve the condition of your hair and scalp and also helps treat dandruff.
Grapeseed oil is also promoted as a remedy for baldness as linoleic acid is thought to support hair growth. This oil also contains procyanidin oligomers which may induce hair growth.
Adverse effects of grapeseed oil
Grapeseed oil is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are generally considered suitable for health. However, it is the ratio of different PUFAs that are the cause of the controversy of why grapeseed oil is not considered ideal for health.
According to studies, a high ratio of omega-6 fatty acids, as compared to omega-3 fatty acids can increase the risk of chronic diseases (6).
Grapeseed oil has the highest levels of omega-6 fatty acids as compared to many other vegetable oils like olive oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, and soyabean oil.
Omega-6 fatty acids are not bad for health, but they can be harmful if we consume too much in our diet. Here are some of the harmful effects liked to consuming too much omega-6 fatty acids –
1. Increases inflammation
Excessive omega-6 fatty acids in the diet can increase inflammation, which can affect heart health and even lead to cancer. It also affects the immune system and makes you more susceptible to disease.
It can lead to the rise in diseases like asthma, coronary heart disease, autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases.
2. Increases cholesterol
When PUFA becomes oxidized, it is not able to metabolize cholesterol. This process can increase the risk for clogged arteries and heart disease.
3. Hormonal imbalance
Our body constructs hormones from omega-6. Very high levels of omega-6 can lead to hormonal imbalance. It interferes with your ability to produce mood-stabilizing hormones, sex hormones and also interferes with thyroid activity.
The imbalance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can also lead to depression, dyslexia, hyperactivity and a tendency towards violence.
4. Weight gain
Omega-6 can raise inflammation levels, make metabolism sluggish and affect the thyroid hormone as well, which can lead to weight gain.
Is it a good oil for cooking?
Grapeseed oil has a moderately high smoking point. It also contains a very high amount of vitamin E, almost double that of olive oil. Grapeseed oil is also flavorless and odorless, which helps the flavor of the other ingredients in your dish stand out.
However, it also has the highest amount of omega-6, which is the highest of all the vegetable oils. These fats react at high heat and form free radicals (7). Heat degrades these fatty acids to form toxic compounds, and this can lead to several types of health risks.
You can use this oil for salad dressings, baking and other recipes that require low heat for cooking.
Grapeseed oil side effects
Grapeseed oil can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Seek medical help if you notice any one of these symptoms.
Grapeseed oil also not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Grapeseed oil interactions
- Do not take vitamin C supplements and grapeseed oil together as this combination can lead to an increase in blood pressure.
- Also, if you are taking lactobacillus, then you should avoid grapeseed oil. This oil can slow the growth of lactobacillus in the intestines, which may reduce their benefits.
- Grapeseed oil can also interact with medicines for asthma, blood pressure, and anti-depressants.
- Grapeseed oil is also unsafe for people with blood conditions. It is not recommended for those who are taking blood thinning medication or those who are about to go for surgery.
How to choose grapeseed oil?
The benefits of grapeseed oil depend a lot on how it is processed. Some modern processed used to extract this oil use heavy machinery which heats the oil to high temperatures.
This heating can destroy the nutritional content of the oil. So it is essential to know how the oil is processed or bottled.
Go for organic and cold pressed oils. Cold pressing doesn’t destroy the nutritional content of the oil as it keeps the molecular composition of the fatty acids from changing.
Always look for indications of how the oil was made when you buy it.
Grapeseed oil is made from the seeds of grapes that are a by-product of winemaking. It is rich in vitamin E, omega-6 fatty acids and phenolic antioxidants.
While you can use grapeseed oil in salad dressings and light sautéing on low flame, it is not suitable for cooking on high heat or frying. Grapeseed oil can also be used to keep your skin healthy and acne-free. It also helps make your hair stronger and helps prevent hair loss.
Pregnant or breastfeeding women should stay away from this oil as it is not considered safe for them. If you are taking medication for heart ailments, thyroid or depression, avoid grapeseed oil.