The Great Con-ola!

canola-oil

Greetings! Thanks to the Weston A Price foundation for the great title [1]! As indicated, the Food-for-Thought topic for today is canola oil and I am re-blogging a post from holistic nutritionist Anne Baker, who is also a member of the W Cubed Medical Advisory Board. This post has become one of her most popular and can be found on her website here. It is likely popular is because we were told for years that such vegetable oils are heart healthy, but now we are learning otherwise and need to change our routines [1,2]. Here is the text of Anne’s informative post:

“It seems every time I give a health lecture, the question about which oils are healthy comes up. People are usually surprised to learn that canola oil is not the healthy oil they were lead to believe. This is because canola is actually a very processed product that is derived from the rapeseed which is a member of the mustard family, which also includes broccoli, kale, cabbage and mustard greens.

Rapeseed oil was used in Asia for many years and was never a health issue. It is speculated that the reason for this is because in Asia, the oil was processed at very low temperatures. What you’re buying in US markets is not the same product and it does not provide the essential fatty acids required by the body. Fatty acids are essential and analogous to the lock and key. You need the right fatty acid to unlock the door to the cells. Wrong or rancid oils like canola don’t work.

Current processing of canola oil goes something like this – the oil is removed from the seed by a combination of high temperature mechanical pressing and solvent extraction. This is a very inferior method of extraction and leaves traces of the solvent  in the oil. Then, the oil is further refined, bleached and degummed, each step requiring exposure to high temperatures and chemicals. Since canola oil has a large amount of omega-3 fatty acids, these easily become rancid and foul smelling during these high heat processes. It therefore has to undergo another refining process called deodorization. This deodorization process removes a large portion of the omega-3 fatty acids by turning them into trans fats – which can be as high as 4.5%, which is worse than margarine.

So now you begin to see why canola is not the healthy oil you were lead to believe. Here are some more quick facts about canola oil:

  • It is genetically engineered rapeseed. [3,4]
  • It is derived from the mustard family and is considered a toxic and poisonous weed, and when processed, becomes rancid very quickly.
  • It is very inexpensive to grow and harvest and even insects won’t eat it.
  • Generally, rapeseed has a cumulative effect, taking almost 10 years before symptoms begin to manifest. It has a tendency to inhibit proper metabolism of foods and prohibits normal enzyme function. Possible side effects include loss of vision, disruption of the central nervous system, respiratory illness, anemia, constipation, increased incidence of heart disease and cancer, low birth weights in infants and irritability.
  • It contains Trans fatty Acids which have been shown to have a direct link to cancer.

Things are not looking good for canola. But don’t despair – there are good oils and they all come from real foods!

  • Flax seed oil – do NOT cook with this and keep refrigerated
  • Extra virgin cold pressed olive oil – medium  heat
  • Virgin, unrefined coconut oil – medium heat
  • Avocado oil – medium heat
  • Grape seed oil (and I would also like to add ghee – SGM) – medium to medium high heat

The very best way to eat these is raw. High quality oils are very sensitive to heat and it changes them into less healthy substances our bodies can’t use, which is another reason not to over cook food on high heat.”

I hope this was informative! I know I was under the impression, until recently, that canola oil was just great. Heck, Gwyneth Paltrow recommends it in her wonderful cookbook It’s All Good. Well, Ms. Pepper Potts, apparently it’s not!

[1] http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/the-great-con-ola

[2] http://omega6.wellwise.org/canola-oil-gmo-and-allergies

[3] Non-GMO Shopping Guide

[4] http://www.nongmoproject.org/2012/04/16/10-ways-to-spring-clean-gmos-out-of-your-home/

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