While I have written on the subject of avoiding all processed vegetable oils in the past, I have not thrown down the gauntlet regarding canola oil.
The first suspicion-raising reason to avoid canola is that there is not a “canola” plant in nature. You know – coconut oil comes from coconuts, olive oil comes from olives, but where in the world does canola oil come from?
It turns out that, in an attempt to create a cheaper version of olive oil, researchers selectively bred the rapeseed plant from the mustard seed family and created an altered form of rapeseed oil. Unlike true rapeseed oil – which is a polyunsaturated oil – this new oil was monounsaturated, like olive oil. The only problem was its high erucic acid content, a compound that is toxic and problematic for cardiovascular health.
In response, Canadian researchers figured out a way to selectively breed it further to lower the erucic acid content and give it the appearance of a heart healthy monounsaturated fat. As long as it was lower than 2% erucic acid, it was considered safe. They even found a way to grow the new genetically altered rapeseed plant organically – go figure!
A Genetic Marvel
The new rapeseed oil was given a tributary name. CAN for “Canadian,” O for “oil,” and LA for “low (erucic) acid.”
This was the new rage! It was a monounsaturated oil like olive oil with a high amount of omega 3’s, like fish oils, and low in problematic saturated fats. What could be better? Oh yes – and it was dirt cheap!
In 2006, the FDA allowed it to be marketed as a heart healthy oil. Companies were able to suggest heart healthy benefits by taking 1.5 tablespoons per day in replacement of saturated fats to reduce heart disease.
Today, you can actually find organic canola oil. They claim that their canola oil is from non-genetically altered rapeseed. But rapeseed is a well-known toxic plant. Do we now have organic “frankenfoods”?
Some GMO Risks
While there are no long-term studies assessing the risks of canola oil, there are studies that raise suspicion related to heart and circulation, fibrous tissue accumulation, growth issues in infants and more.
But remember, like all other refined vegetable oils, canola oil is cooked, bleached, and deodorized to the point where it can sit on a shelf for years and not go bad. As a rule of thumb, if the bacteria that make things go bad won’t eat it, your liver will not be able to digest it either.
Consider non-GMO, organic, raw, virgin, unprocessed, immediately cold pressed, cooking (heat) tolerant coconut oil as an alternative. Ghee is also a heat tolerant cooking oil. Olive oil does not stand up to high temperatures, so it is better to add it to foods after cooking.