Cottonseed oil is an edible vegetable oil extracted from the seeds of the cotton plant. This pale yellow oil is generally used for cooking. It is further refined to to remove gossypol, a naturally occurring toxin that protects the cotton plant from insect damage. Oil thus obtained, is used in combination with other oils to create many vegetable oil products.
Since cottonseed oil does not require hydrogenation, it is lower in cholesterol than many other oils and has little to no trans-fats per serving. Since this vegetable oil contains higher antioxidant content, it lasts for a longer period, if stored properly. It also gives fried foods a similar, yet lighter flavor when compared to other oils, and food achieves a similar color and texture.
Like other vegetable oils, cottonseed oil doesn’t contain cholesterol in its natural unhydrogenated state. However, it does contain over 50% Omega-6 fatty acids and only trace amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids. It also contains about 1% sterculic acids and malvalic acids in its crude form. Other contents of the cottonseed oil are:
- Palmitic acid: 22-26%
- Oleic acid: 15-20%
- Linoleic acid: 49-58%,
- Arachidic / behenic and lignoceric acid: 10%.
Uses of Cottonseed Oil
Since cottonseed oil is lower in cholesterol than many other oils, it is preferred for diets that require lowered intakes of saturated fats. Regarded as a healthier oil, this edible oil is widely used in preparing some margarines and salad dressings, and for many commercially fried products. Along with each of these properties, cottonseed oil also costs less than many other varieties, making it a hit amongst restaurant owners and snack food manufacturers. It is commonly used in manufacturing potato chips and other snack foods. Besides being regarded as a healthier edible oil, cottonseed oil also contains many medicinal properties. In a recent study, researchers discovered a compound named ‘gossypol’ which supports the chemotherapy in patients suffering from cancers. It is believed that this cottonseed oil compound may block certain proteins that create resistance to chemical treatments, and may also limit tumor growth.