What is canola oil?
Oils that are used for cooking come from the fruits, nuts, and seeds of various plants. For example- olive oil comes from olives, grape seed oil comes from grape seeds, peanut oil comes from peanuts. Oddly enough, there is no such thing as a “canola” plant. This is because canola oil comes from a plant called rapeseed….
Many companies are profiting by selling Canola oil as the “healthy” alternative, but most of the Canola oil on the market today is made from genetically modified rapeseed plants, which is troubling enough in itself if you aware of the health concerns that surround genetically modified organisms, but there is much more to this story.
Historically, rapeseed oil was so toxic that the FDA banned it from human consumption back in 1956 because its high erucic acid content meant it was better used as an industrial lubricant, fuel, soap, or as a synthetic rubber base. Then in the 1970’s, Canadian growers bred a new variety of rapeseed that had a lower content of erucic acid. They named it L.E.A.R. oil (Low Erucic Acid Rapeseed), but then renamed it “Canola,” because “rapeseed” oil was already well known to be toxic.
The term Canola is based on a combination of the phrases, “Canadian oil, low acid” and the intention was to convince consumers that it was now safe to eat. In 1985, canola oil was placed on the GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) list in the USA, although it did not go through any testing by the FDA to get that rating. Since the Canadian government was subsidizing most rapeseed planting and harvesting, the plants are cheap, easy to grow and are naturally insect-resistant, thus making Canola oil an inexpensive and easy choice for food manufacturers to use for most processed foods.
In 1996, Japanese scientists announced details of a study wherein a special Canola oil diet had actually killed the laboratory rats. A duplicate study was conducted by Canadian scientists using piglets that were fed a special Canola oil-based milk-replacer diet. In this second study, published in Nutrition Research, 1997, the researchers verified that Canola oil would deplete vitamin E in piglets to dangerously low levels. It is very concerning that a “food” substance depletes vitamin E as it is essential to human health. Vitamin E is necessary when processed fats are consumed because Vitamin E controls the lipid peroxidation that results in dangerous free-radical activity, which in turn can cause lesions in your arteries and other health problems.
In regards to cooking with canola and other polyunsaturated oils
Canola oil has been highly processed and refined during the extraction process. This includes exposure to high heat, chemicals, and deodorizers which can transform the delicate polyunsaturated omega 3 fatty acids into trans fatty acids. Canola oil is 35% polyunsaturated fatty acid, and about 55-65% mono-unsaturated fat, this means that it is not as stable as the fully saturated fats like unrefined coconut oil, Sustainable Harvested Palm Oil, and unrefined lards, and therefore it will go rancid when exposed to high heat, oxygen, and light.
Additionally, heating canola will transform this oil into a trans-fat which is linked to the development of cancer. This is because trans fats, including hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, will clog the cellular membrane and inhibit the ability of the cell to take in oxygen and expel waste, potentially turning a healthy cell into a cancerous cell. Read more about this here.
According to Dr. Mary Enig, Nutritional Biochemist, “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 the trans fat levels as high as 4.6 percent in commercial liquid Canola oil.”
This video demonstrates exactly why you want to avoid consuming heavily refined oils. Extracting the oils with heat, chemicals, bleaching, and deodorizing all leave behind an end-product has lost its nutritional integrity and you are left with something that the body cannot process. This video may be specific to canola but the process is similar for all highly refined oils such as corn, soy, sunflower, safflower, and the ambiguous “vegetable oil.”
How seed oils are manufactured