Canola oil originates from rapeseed, and has been used for various purposes for centuries. The rapeseed plant is a great insect repellent. In recent history, it was used in North America during World War II as a lubricant. In 1979, the Western Canadian Oilseed Crushers Association coined the name “Canola,” and to this day Canada produces roughly 15% of the world’s Canola oil. Interestingly, the United States only produces 1% of the world’s Canola oil. “Canola ranks 5th in production among the world’s oilseed crops following soybeans, sunflowers, peanuts and cottonseed,” according to a report from Purdue University.
Is it Healthy?
The answer to that question is a resounding NO. Many experts would agree and here is why.
- The way its processed
- The trans fatty acids it contains
- The genetic modification of the seeds.
Equally important is how this highly questionable oil is “snuck” into our grocery items. Naturalnews.com describes how “crafty” the cover-up can be. For instance, a certain product which claims “With Olive Oil” complete with pictures of olives and olive leaves on the label is actually misleading. Upon reading the ingredients list on the back, Canola oil is listed at the top, with olive oil down at the very bottom. Another clever cover-up is this statement made by manufacturers: “May include olive, Canola or sunflower oil.” Which is it? This is an unhealthy practice, as it is deceiving, dishonest and down-right greedy.
How is it Made?
DrDangemi.com offers a great explanation of how Canola oil is made. The process of producing Canola oil is complex (and highly unnatural) indeed. First, the oil is removed from the seeds using high heat, pressure and petroleum solvents, leaving behind traces of hexane. Next, the oil is refined, bleached and degummed, all of which involve high temperatures or chemicals of questionable safety. Finally, the oil has to be deodorized. As a result of these processes, much of the omega-3 fatty acids are converted into trans fatty acids. It is at this point that Canola oil becomes unreasonably hazardous.
More on Trans Fatty Acids
As explained above, one of the disadvantages of consuming Canola oil is that it contains trans fatty acids. What does this mean? This means that there are virtually no benefits in consuming trans fatty acids and, in fact, they are quite dangerous. According to Dr. Gangemi, hydrogenated fats are a “poison,” which create a chemical reaction in the body that may “cause damage to structure or disturbance of function, producing symptomatology, illness or death.” These are pretty serious consequences, indeed. Additionally, trans fatty acids (hydrogenated fats) can increase the likelihood, or even cause, symptoms such as: headaches, PMS, hot flashes, skin problems, asthma, arthritis, and joint pain. Making matters worse, trans fatty acids can lead to: cancer, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular diseases, heart attacks and strokes.
Dr. Mary Enig, a world-renowned Biochemist, has said, “”Although the Canadian government lists the trans fat content of canola at a minimal 0.2 percent, research at the University of Florida at Gainesville, found trans fat levels as high as 4.6 percent in commercial liquid canola oil”.
Is Rapeseed Genetically Modified?
Well, originally they weren’t. Back in the 1970’s when Canola oil was first being produced, it was marketed as being a “natural” oil. With the introduction of genetically modified food in today’s food supply, that has all changed. Draxe.com shares some interesting statistics regarding the genetically modified engineering that now takes place in the production of Canola oil. It was in 1995 that Monsanto created a genetically modified Canola seed. In fact, “By 2009, 90% of the Canadian crop was genetically engineered and as of 2005, 87% of Canola grown in the United States was genetically modified.” What this means is that almost without exception, the Canola oil that you will consume has been genetically modified. The odds are against you.
So, What are My Options?
The good news is that there are many other oil varieties which are much better for your overall health, and far more transparent. The Huffington Post has compiled a helpful list of oils that will help you in your cooking, without the risk that Canola oil imposes.
- Coconut oils- contain nutrients such as vitamin K, E and iron. This oil cooks well at high temperatures.
- Ghee- actually a butter, but does not contain impurities and cholesterol.
- Grapeseed oil- at higher temperatures, thought to fight cancer and lower cholesterol.
- Hemp oil- another great source of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Olive oil- this oil is commonly used as it is. It’s great benefit? It lowers the risk of heart disease.
- Sesame oil- it has the ability to lower blood pressure according to some studies. (caution: in terms of flavor, a little goes a long way!)
Based on the Evidence…
Evidence does not point to Canola oil being a safe alternative to the array of other cooking oils which are available in the food industry today. In fact, with its highly questionable nature and history, it does not make logical sense to consume it at all. The problem? It is virtually everywhere in the United States food industry. Why? Good old-fashioned economics. It doesn’t take much to figure out the “whys” in the case for Canola oil. However, it’s the cases which are against it that should raise a red flag for consumers. After all, whose health is at risk here?