Trying to be healthy while doing grocery shopping isn't always easy, and I'm not just talking about keeping yourself from entering the cookie aisle. I'm referring to the struggle with food labels, and being able to actually understand what they mean. One detail I noticed when looking at the oil section, was that some of them were labeled as expeller pressed, others as cold pressed. But, why did this matter? In what other ways could oil be made? Expeller pressed vs cold pressed, which oil would give me more benefits? 

What Are Cold Pressed Oils?

Oils are processed in different ways, but extracting oil through a cold-pressing procedure involves neither heat nor chemical treatments since it only involves obtaining the seed's oil by crushing it. Cold pressing is simple and does not require much energy. In fact, when oils are produced under lower temperatures (below 122˚F), they retain far more antioxidants and nutrients than they would at higher temperatures.

In addition, a wide variety of different oils can be cold pressed; from olive to sesame to coconut to many other types of oil. A substantial amount of oils, in general, can be cold pressed. However, concerns regarding safety claims about some of these products have not been completely analyzed, so not all of them are actually sold due to the need of more scientific research and nutritional approval.

What Are Expeller Pressed Oils?

olive oil, herb, tea, oil, rosemary
Jessica Kelly

Alternatively, oils that are expeller pressed are squeezed from the seed through a barrel-like cavity by using friction and continuous pressure. This can produce higher temperatures (140-210˚F) even if there isn't any direct heat added during the process. Though this method contains higher temperatures than cold pressing, it does not use any additional chemicals, like some other processes do in order to obtain larger quantities of oil. Expeller pressed oils, just like cold pressed oils, can be obtained from a considerable amount of distinct seeds, but only the ones that have been approved for consumption are sold to the public.

Expeller Pressed vs Cold Pressed

Expeller and cold pressing techniques have a few similarities. Both use the pressing of nuts or seeds to get oil, making them both potentially more beneficial than refined oils, which are bleached and deodorized. Nevertheless, if comparing them, oils that are cold pressed would perhaps be the most suitable option to consume, considering these retain the highest quantity of nutrients.

Subsequently, buying a pricey oil instead of a cheaper one will not necessarily mean you're getting the best choice. As stated before, cold pressed oils may be the best option for us to consume, therefore the preferred ones to buy. Regardless of this, we need to be very aware of the oils we find at supermarkets, on account of the fact that some oil brands claim their product is "first cold pressed" in the label, yet in the ingredients list it's clearly specified that the first component is refined oil. That is why, when trying to buy a healthy oil, it is always important for us to look for words such as "unrefined", "directly from [seed that you're buying]", or "extra virgin" in the ingredients list.

Consequently, we need to be aware of the type of oil that we buy for our daily cooking. Cold pressed oils could be a very good option, keeping in mind that some brands contain false advertising, so it is always better to check the ingredients before spending money on unreasonably expensive oils. Above all, if wondering about actual healthy oil brands, my recommendation would be asking a nutrition expert, such as a registered dietitian.