I used to believe the hype about canola oil. I remember back to my college days when I was in the dietetics program on my way to becoming a registered dietitian. I had to do a project where I had to recreate a standard recipe using healthier ingredients. My partner and I chose brownies. We found a recipe that included basics like butter and cocoa powder. We swapped out that (insert sarcastic tone) nasty saturated fat butter for some good old heart healthy canola oil. We were praised for it! Heart-healthy brownies! I look back now and can’t believe that craziness. (At least we got an A though.)
This oil has been labeled as healthy because it’s very low in saturated fat (the “bad” fat, according to government dietary guidelines) and is very high in unsaturated fat (the “good” fat by those some guidelines). Just in the last several decades did the idea become spread that saturated fats were bad and unsaturated fats were good. Generations for thousands of years before us were consuming amounts quite opposite. Traditional cultures, according to Weston Price, only consumed enough polyunsaturated fats to account for roughly 4% of their caloric intake. So even though that’s been working for all those years, and generations have reproduced generation upon generation, all of a sudden, everything is wrong? Well, that’s the power of money I suppose.
Unfortunately canola oil is anything but heart healthy. Canola oil comes from the rapeseed, which is a member of the mustard family. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, oils from seeds are very delicate. When exposed to heat and light, they really become rancid and oxidized which allows them to create free radicals and contribute to inflammation.
I think Sally Fallon Morrell explains the downside of canola oil in her new book, Nourishing Fats.
“Canola oil was created from genetic manipulation of rapeseed to contain little if any erucic acid, and nutritionists heralded the new product as the perfect heart-healthy oil- high in monounsaturated fatty acids, rich in omega-3, and very low in saturated fat. But canola oil does not live up to these claims. One study indicates that “heart-healthy” canola oil actually creates a deficiency in vitamin E, a vitamin required for a healthy cardiovascular system. Other studies show that the new low-erucic-acid canola oil still can cause heart lesions, particularly when the diet is low in saturated fat. Canola oil has a high sulphur content and goes rancid easily. Baked goods made with canola oil develop mold very quickly. Most seriously, during the deodorizing process, the fragile omega-3 fatty acids of processed canola oil are rendered rancid or even transformed into trans fatty acids, similar to those in margarine, and possibly more dangerous.”
Here is an unbiased video about how canola oil is made.
Ok, let’s break this down with some key words/phrases from the video.
–Made within the last 30 years. This should really tell us right off the bat it’s likely genetically modified. In fact, 87% of canola oil is genetically engineered.
–It’s considered healthy because it’s low in saturated fat, only 7%. Saturated fats are so important! More omega 3 and high in monounsaturated fats to lower cholesterol. Cholesterol is a critical component in the body. It acts as a protector! If it’s high, you need to find out why, what it’s protecting you from, not just lower it with meds.
–70 minute wash with a solvent. It doesn’t specify in the video, but I’d guess that chemical could be hexane. According to Pubchem, “acute (short-term) inhalation exposure of humans to high levels of hexane causes mild central nervous system (CNS) effects, including dizziness, giddiness, slight nausea, and headache. Chronic (long-term) exposure to hexane in air is associated with polyneuropathy in humans, with numbness in the extremities, muscular weakness, blurred vision, headache, and fatigue observed.”
–20 minute wash with sodium hydroxide. Again, according to Pubchem, “sodium hydroxide is used to manufacture soaps, rayon, paper, explosives, dyestuffs, and petroleum products. It is also used in processing cotton fabric, laundering and bleaching, metal cleaning and processing, oxide coating, electroplating, and electrolytic extracting. It is commonly present in commercial drain and oven cleaners.” Yum.
–Bleach. ?! Gross.
–Stream injection heating to remove odor. The heating process damages the molecules, giving you a rancid oil before you even get it to the checkout line. Perhaps that rancidity is the odor they’re trying to remove?
–Now fully refined and ready for bottling into plastic. Even if this oil wasn’t rancid to begin with, it would be after sitting in the chemical filled plastic bottles that are clear leaving the oil molecules to be damaged by the light exposure.
Maybe it’s just me, but there is nothing about this process that seems natural or safe. Aside from the oil being damaged itself, it’s also exposed to chemicals which in my opinion have no business being anywhere near something one is going to consume.
Better options for cooking are good quality saturated fats (butter, ghee, duck fat, bacon fat, coconut oil). Avocado oil and olive oil are safe at lower temp cooking. To start your journey to health, say goodbye to canola oil!
In good health,