February 13, 2008

Simply Said: Expeller-Pressed Oil

Pick up a random box of whole grain crackers at a health food store and you’re bound to see “expeller pressed oil” as one of the ingredients.

What is it, exactly ? Is it lower in calories? Is it a healthier fat?

An oil is considered expeller-pressed when it is extracted from its source – a seed or nut – solely through a crushing mechanism (using a device similar to what is pictured on the right).

Consider it a less-processed end product.

Standard oils (i.e: the oil used for Doritos) are extracted chemically with the aid of hexane, a petrochemical also used as a paint diluent and solvent.

Hexane was actually classified as a Hazardous Air Pollutant in 1993 by the Environmental Protection Agency, and can lead to serious health complications if inhaled.

There are currently studies being done on hexane consumption in the diet, mainly to determine if any links can be made between its consumption and higher risks of cancer.

What is known is that the release of hexane into the atmosphere by conventional oil processing methods ultimately creates greenhouse gases.

From a nutrition standpoint, though, expeller pressed oil is still a fat clocking in at nine calories per gram.

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