Avoiding Cottonseed Oil

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About Cottonseed Oil

Cottonseed oil is cooking oil extracted from the seeds of cotton plants of various species, that are grown for cotton fiber, animal feed, and oil.


Cottonseed oil is one of the unhealthiest oils because it is high in saturated fat that can raise cholesterol, and low in cholesterol-lowering fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.  Since cholesterol levels rise naturally during pregnancy due to the increase in hormone production, eating products that contain cottonseed oil can raise cholesterol to unhealthy levels, also known as hypercholesterolaemia. 


Cotton is a crop that is sprayed heavily with pesticides, which may result in pesticide contamination in the oil.

Exposure to pesticides, either by inhalation or ingestion, may cause birth defects or complications during a woman’s pregnancy, according to the American Pregnancy Association. The risk for complications is increased during the first three months of pregnancy, but products that possibly contain pesticides should be avoided throughout pregnancy. Prenatal pesticide exposure complications may include neural tube defects, heart defects, limb defects and the development of certain types of cancers.

The Effects of Cottonseed Oil on Male Fertility
Cottonseed oil contains gossypol, which has been known to decrease the production of sperm and reduce male fertility in rats, according to the European Journal of Histochemistry.

The oil has been used in China as a male contraceptive, but is discouraged due to side effects, such as lowered potassium levels, fatigue, muscle weakness, and paralysis.

Women who are trying to conceive should advise their partner to avoid food products that contain cottonseed oil due to the possible link to decreased fertility.

For parenteral nutrition purposes, cottonseed oil has been replaced by soybean oil, especially in pregnant women, where the use of cottonseed lipid emulsion has been associated with adverse effects. A notable difference between the cottonseed oil emulsion and the soybean oil emulsion is the particle size. The cottonseed oil emulsion has much larger particles than the soybean oil emulsion. These larger particles may have been handled differently by the body, thus perhaps accounting for some of the toxic reactions.

There are other foods, drinks and chemicals best avoided in pre-conception and pregnancy.  Your health care provider will be able to give you full details if you tell them you are planning to conceive or are pregnant.

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