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Ask the Pharmacist: Tea seed oil has profound health benefits

Suzy Cohen
Columnist
ikebana with camellia flowers isolated on a white background

As we move into 2021, I started thinking that a good way to start the new year is to “feed” your body better. This will ensure a stronger immune response through the winter season, and help you with gut concerns, mood, sleep and mitochondrial health.

So, I want you to start the new year with what I think is the best oil on Earth! Tea seed oil – you cook with it! It’s not an essential oil and completely unrelated to tea tree oil which cannot be consumed.

I’ve mentioned tea seed oil as an ingredient in many of my recipes (all posted at my website). But what is it exactly?

Tea seed oil comes from the seeds of the Camellia oleifera plant, which is a cousin to Camellia sinensis. The latter provides us with leaves which we can turn into black or green tea, matcha, white tea and oolong.

Tea seed oil gives your body a refreshing clean “oil change.” Just like a car needs certain oils for its breaks and gears, your body needs certain oils to keep cell membranes healthy, cholesterol ratios in good balance and maintain a healthy, content mood. Oils contain a host of healthy vitamins, antioxidant enzymes, minerals and nutrients in them. They are not just grease or fat designed to keep the food from sticking to the pan. They impart health benefits.

Think of oils like you would a dietary supplement. You can choose an oil by its nutrient profile so that it nourishes your body the way a supplement does. Just like olive oil, and grape seed, tea seed oil has potent antioxidant compounds with extremely high level of unsaturated fats.

It contains a similar fatty acid profile to olive oil too, however, except it has more omega-3 fatty acids and less omega-6 fatty acids. It’s free of cholesterol. As for nutrients, tea seed oil boasts vitamin E, vitamin A, B vitamins and minerals. 

Tea seed oil provides incredible antioxidant protection too, and it’s not lost when you cook this oil. It contains B-carotene and vitamin E. Tea seed oil contains powerful antioxidants called “catechins” which is exactly why people drink so much green tea. They’re after the catechin!

One major difference with olive oil is that tea seed oil has a high smoke point, so you can cook and grill with it! It’s something like 485 degrees. Both olive oil and coconut oil will rapidly degrade if you heat it that high!

It has a light flavor that will enhance recipes and I love the pale green to yellow color. It smells very mild, it will not overpower you, or any recipe the way that other oils do. It does not impart any flavor, nor does it taste bitter the way that some green teas do. You cannot keep oils for years. In fact, after opening them, they may go rancid after a few months. It’s widely available at specialty health foods, some grocery stores and online. 

More:Ask the Pharmacist: The new medications in 2020

And:Ask the Pharmacist: 6 holiday plants that make you sick

Also:Ask the Pharmacist: The sad side effect of 2020

Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Visit SuzyCohen.com.