News | November 30, 1999

Twenty Facts About Cottonseed Oil

Source: National Cottonseed Products Association
National Cottonseed Products AssociationCottonseed oil is extracted from cottonseed. Cotton has long been known as nature's unique food and fiber plant. It produces both food for man and feed for animals in addition to a highly versatile fiber for clothing, home furnishings, and industrial uses.

2. Cottonseed oil has been a part of the American diet for well over a century. Until the 1940's, it was the major vegetable oil produced in the United States. Now, with annual production averaging more than 1 billion pounds, Cottonseed oil ranks third in volume behind soybean and corn oil representing about 5-6% of the total domestic fat and oil supply.

3. Cottonseed oil has many food applications. As a salad oil, it is used in mayonnaise, salad dressings, sauces, and marinades. As a cooking oil, it is used for frying in both commercial and home cooking. As a shortening or margarine, it is ideal for baked goods and cake icings.

4. Cottonseed oil is primarily used in the U.S. as a salad or cooking oil. About 56% is consumed in that category while about 36% goes into baking and frying fats, and a small amount into margarine and other uses.

5. Cottonseed oil has a mild, nut like taste. It is generally clear with a light golden color, but like most oils, the degree of color depends on the amount of refining. Clear, colorless oils are not necessarily better oils, but may have been refined more severely.

6. Cottonseed oil is often used as the yardstick for measuring flavor and odor qualities in other oils.

7, Cottonseed oil is one of the few oils considered acceptable for reducing saturated fat intake.

8. Cottonseed oil is among the most unsaturated oils. Others include safflower, corn, soybean, canola and sunflower seed oils.

9. Cottonseed oil has a 2:1 ratio of polyunsaturated to saturated fatty acids. Its fatty acid profile generally consists of 70% unsaturated fatty acids including 18% monounsaturated (oleic) and 52% polyunsaturated (linoleic) and 26% saturated (primarily palmitic and stearic).

10. Cottonseed oil is rich in tocopherols. These natural antioxidants, which have varying degrees of vitamin E activity, also contribute to its stability giving products that contain it a long shelf life.

11. Cottonseed oil is described by scientists as being "naturally hydrogenated" because of the levels of oleic, palmitic, and stearic acids which it contains. These make it a stable frying oil without the need for additional processing or the formation of trans fatty acids.

12. Cottonseed oil does not have to be as fully hydrogenated for many purposes as some of the more polyunsaturated oils. When it is partially hydrogenated, however, its monounsaturated fatty acids actually increase. When hydrogenated to a typical Iodine Value of about 80, for example, its fatty acid profile shifts to 50% monounsaturated, 21% polyunsaturated, and 29% saturates all well within current diet/health guidelines.

13. Like all major food crops, cottonseed production is regulated by food protection agencies of the federal government and Cottonseed oil meets the government's strict standards for purity.

14. Refined and deodorized Cottonseed oil is one of the purest food products available. Few foods can be as highly cleaned and refined, and still maintain their nutritional quality.

15. Cottonseed oil is a favorite for salad oil, mayonnaise, salad dressing, and similar products because of its flavor stability.

16. Cottonseed oil's light, non oily consistency and high smoke point make it most desirable for cooking "stir fry" and other oriental dishes, as well as for frying fish.

17. Unlike some oils, Cottonseed oil does not deteriorate or "revert" rapidly in flavor when used at high temperatures.

18. In addition to oil, many products from cottonseed are part of our daily life. Cellulose and cellulose derivatives from cottonseed linter fiber are used as food ingredients.

19. Cottonseed oil can be found as an ingredient in many food products and is available on the grocery shelf only in limited areas.

20. Because Cottonseed oil is America's original vegetable oil, it has been the standard to which other oils are compared.

A video presentation describing the production of Cottonseed oil and many other products from cottonseed is available. For this and other information on cottonseed oil, send e-mail to <%=company%> at