From olive oil and palm oil to coconut oil and sesame oils it’s hard to know which one to put in your shopping cart, into your food, and eventually inside your body. One of the most misunderstood and most talked about cooking oils is canola oil. The name was originally LEAR (Low Erucic Acid Rapeseed) but for marketing purposes was changed to canola oil. This word was derived from the combination of the phrase, “Canadian oil.” Canola oil is a much more appealing name than LEAR oil or rape oil. But is the oil appealing for you and should you be using it in your foods?
The History of Canola Oil
Canola oil was developed as the food industry began to search for healthy and cost effective alternatives to saturated fats in oils. These saturated fats had come to the mainstream attention as a result of the American Heart Association and other government agencies spreading reports of saturated fats, often found in commonly used cooking oils, being bad for your heart health. Many of these reports were particularly aimed at corn oil and soybean oil.
As food manufacturers searched and experimented they discovered rapeseed oil. Rapeseed oil is monounsaturated oil. The problem with this original type of rapeseed oil is that it was very high in erucic acid. Erucic acid is a fatty acid found in rapeseed and mustard oils that is linked to heart damage in particular Keshan’s Disease, a disease characterized by fibrotic lesions of the heart.
Food manufacturers continued their journey into refining rapeseed and canola oils until they came up with a formula in the late 1970’s to genetically manipulate the rapeseed plant by seed splitting. This seed split oil produced canola oil with less erucic acid and higher amounts of oleic acid. This was the oil referred to at the time as LEAR as in Low Erucic Acid Rapeseed.
Although there are not the previously high levels of erucic acid in canola oil there are still reasons for serious concern if you use canola oil.
Problems with Canola Oil
Canola oil has still been linked to Keshan’s disease (characterized by heart lesion,) as well as a host of other health concerns.
Canola Oil Health Concerns:
- Heart health problems
- Vitamin E Deficiencies
- Blood platelet abnormalities
- Retarding normal growth (for this reason canola oil is banned from infant formulas)
- Increased cancer risks from hydrogenation process and created trans fats
- Free radical damage
Another point you need to understand about canola oil is the extreme amount of processing it goes through before it reaches you. Canola oil and many other oils are put through an extreme close to ten step process which introduces toxins, changes the original structure of the oil, and is then hydrogenated oil. These are the types of oil you want to avoid, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated.
During this hydrogenation and processing Trans fatty acids are created. You want to avoid consuming these dangerous by products of processing oils at all costs. In fact, this is one of the biggest reasons to avoid cooking with the following oils:
But that’s not all you have to be concerned about when it comes to canola oil. Monsanto has recently been using genetically modified organisms or GMO’s in its canola oil seeds. In fact, Monsanto is selling genetically modified seeds for the following plants:
Read my article on Monsanto and on genetically modified foods here.
Whether the canola oil you’ve been using is genetically modified or not (remember the food manufacturers are not required to let you know what foods are and are not genetically modified or derived from genetically modified seeds or plants) you really can’t afford to keep using it for the sake of your health.
It can be confusing to know which are the best oils to choose to cook with and use at home. But one thing you can bet on is that canola oil is simply not the safe, healthy alternative that the mainstream media would have you believe.
Canola oil has become so popular it is found in many foods including ones you may think are ‘healthy’ food choices. In
fact, canola oil is marketed to the health conscious industry rather than the junk food industry. However, you must beware and read labels diligently in order to protect your health and the health of your loved ones from the dangers of this popular cooking oil.
Dr. Josh’s Recommendations:
I recommend pure, cold pressed Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. When buying coconut oil you should make sure it smells like coconut when you buy it, otherwise it has been most likely pasteurized and is not as healthy for you.