Cottonseed Oil Nutrition Facts

Calories, Carbs, and Health Benefits of Cottonseed Oil

Cottonseed annotated
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Cottonseed oil is the oil extracted from cotton seeds including Gossypium hirsutum and Gossypium herbaceum. This inexpensive oil can be used for home cooking, but it is also used by food manufacturers in the production of foods like cookies and potato chips. So is cottonseed oil bad for you? The answer depends, in part, on how you use it. This oil is healthier than some, but less healthy than others.

Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one tablespoon (15ml) of cottonseed oil.

  • Calories: 120
  • Fat: 14g
  • Sodium: 0mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 0g

Fats in Cottonseed Oil

There are three different types of fat in cottonseed oil.

This oil contains saturated fat. Saturated fats are considered to be less healthy fats as they may contribute to heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends choosing oils with less than four grams of saturated fat per tablespoon. Cottonseed oil provides just four grams of saturated fat per tablespoon or roughly 16 percent of your recommended daily intake.

You'll also get 7 grams of polyunsaturated fat when you consume a tablespoon of cottonseed oil. Polyunsaturated fat is liquid at room temperature and may boost heart health when you use it to replace less healthy fat (like saturated fat) in your diet. 

There are two different kinds of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and cottonseed oil contains both of them. According to USDA data, you'll get 2 percent of your daily recommended intake of α-linolenic acid (ALA) omega-3 fatty acids and you'll get 58 percent (7 grams) of your recommended daily intake of linoleic acid or omega-6 fatty acids.

There is also a small amount of monounsaturated fat in cottonseed oil. Monounsaturated fats come primarily from plant sources, like avocado, nuts, or seeds. Monounsaturated fatty acids, also called MUFAs, are believed to increase your HDL cholesterol or "good" cholesterol. Health experts recommend that you replace less healthy fats (such as saturated fats and trans fats) with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fat. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that 15 to 20 percent of your caloric intake come from monounsaturated fatty acids.

Carbs in Cottonseed Oil

There are no carbohydrates in cottonseed oil. The estimated glycemic load of cottonseed oil is zero.

Protein in Cottonseed Oil

There is no protein in cottonseed oil.

Micronutrients in Cottonseed Oil

Cottonseed oil contributes vitamin E to your diet. You'll get 5 milligrams or about 32 percent of your recommended daily intake when you consume one tablespoon of cottonseed oil.

Vitamin E, or alpha-tocopherol, plays an important role in cell metabolism and is believed to have anti-aging benefits. This important vitamin may also help to protect against certain diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, cataracts, and diabetes.

You will also get a small amount (just 3 micrograms, or 4 percent of your daily target) of vitamin K in a tablespoon of cottonseed oil. Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting functions.

Health Benefits

When you consume cottonseed oil, you increase your intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, two types of polyunsaturated fat. Both omega-3 and omega-6 are essential fats, these are fats that must be consumed in the diet because your body does not produce them.

The omega-3 fatty acids in cottonseed oil help to reduce blood clotting and inflammation in the body and also may help dilate blood vessels and lower blood pressure. The omega-6 in cottonseed oil helps to reduce your risk for heart disease and may also help to reduce your risk for cancer.

The small amount of monounsaturated fat in cottonseed oil also provides health benefits. Research has shown that when you replace saturated fat with monounsaturated fat your risk for cardiovascular events or cardiovascular death is reduced. In addition, studies have found that an increased intake of monounsaturated fat reduces the risk for all-cause mortality and stroke.

If you choose to include cottonseed oil in your diet it's important to remember that this oil—like all oil—is fat. Fats contribute nine calories per gram as opposed to four calories per gram for carbohydrates and protein. So even though cottonseed oil is considered a healthy fat, you should still consume the oil in moderation in order to reach and maintain a healthy weight.

Common Questions

Is cottonseed oil bad for you?

Cottonseed oil is not considered to be one of the more healthy fats because it has more saturated fat than other oils and less healthy fat. In addition, some consumers have raised concerns about pesticides that are used in cotton farming that may end up in the oil in trace amounts. 

Cottonseed oil is inexpensive. So some food manufacturers use hydrogenated cottonseed oil in the production of baked goods, crackers, cookies and other foods. These are typically not foods that are good for your heath and contribute to your intake of empty calories.

What are some uses of cottonseed oil outside the kitchen?

Some consumers use cottonseed oil for hair and skin health. Some believe that consuming the oil promotes hair growth. Others use the oil topically on the skin, the hair, and the scalp to boost hair growth, prevent hair loss, and improve the appearance of skin.

Cottonseed oil provides vitamin E, which has been promoted as a treatment for scars, and to promote good skin and hair. Unfortunately, however, there is not strong support from the scientific community about the use of vitamin E for these applications. According to one research review, "After so many years of research on vitamin E, it is still unclear as to whether millions of dollars worth of vitamin E products paid for by patients and consumers have been of any benefit."

What is the best way to store cottonseed oil?

Cottonseed oil should be kept in an airtight container and should be stored in a cool dry place, out of direct sunlight.

Cooking and Preparation Tips

Cottonseed oil has a higher flash point than other types of healthy oil such as canola oil or olive oil or even safflower oil. The flash point, or smoking point, is the temperature at which an oil begins to smoke fumes. Because the smoking point of cottonseed oil is approximately 420°F (or 215°C), it is often used for frying and other high heat cooking techniques. Some say that it is the healthiest oil for frying because it contains at least some polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat.

Cottonseed oil can also be used for baking and in sweet treats. The oil has a neutral taste so that it can be used instead of other fats without changing the flavor of your favorite foods. 

Allergies and Interactions

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, a cottonseed allergy is relatively rare. There are questions about whether or not the allergen is present in cottonseed oil, although some research has suggested that it is not. So if you have a cottonseed allergy, you may not react to the oil.

If you have a cottonseed allergy, you may experience a rash in a specific area of the body if it is used topically. More serious symptoms after cottonseed oil consumption may include swelling in the face, throat and/or mouth, difficulty breathing, severe asthma, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.

If you suspect that you have an allergy to cottonseed oil, talk with your healthcare provider to get a proper diagnosis and tips for managing symptoms.

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