Is Cottonseed Oil Healthy?

While fat previously had a bad reputation due to its high caloric content and association with weight gain, it is now evident that not all fat is created equal. Some types of fat increase cholesterol and heart disease risk, while others decrease it. With a large amount of saturated fat, cottonseed oil is not the healthiest choice you can make in terms of fat sources.

Cottonseed plant becomes cottonseed oil, which is in a variety of snack foods, so read the label carefully. (Image: Toni Scott/iStock/Getty Images)


Cottonseed oil contains only fat, so it is high in calories compared to other foods. Each 1 tbsp. of cottonseed oil contains 120 calories; this is the same number of calories in other oils, such as olive and canola, as all are pure fat. If you are watching your weight, consume fat in moderation in your diet to keep you caloric intake under control. Some fat is necessary, but it can contribute to weight gain.

Monounsaturated Fat

Compared to some other oils, cottonseed oil is low in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. A 1 tbsp. serving contains just 2.4 g, compared to 10 g in the same quantity of olive oil. Monounsaturated fat decreases risk of heart disease, as it increases levels of "good" high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and decreases levels of "bad" low-density lipoprotein. To maintain a healthy heart, select oils that are high in monounsaturated fat, such as sunflower, safflower or canola.

Polyunsaturated Fat

Cottonseed oil contains a good deal of polyunsaturated fat compared to other oils, with 7 g in 1 tbsp. The same quantity of olive oil contains 2 g. Like monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat has a beneficial effect on the heart and has been shown to decrease LDL and increase HDL levels. Because cottonseed contains so little monounsaturated fat and a good deal of saturated fat, however, its content of polyunsaturated fat is not enough to justify consumption.

Saturated Fat

Along with its low monounsaturated fat content, the saturated fat in cottonseed oil makes it a less healthy choice. A 1 tbsp. serving. contains 3.5 g, compared to just 2 g in the same amount of olive oil. Saturated fat increases risk of heart disease when consumed in excess, as it increases LDL levels and decreases HDL. Some of the saturated fat content of many packaged foods, such as cookies and crackers, may come from cottonseed oil.

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