Is Canola Oil as Healthy as Some Claim? Get all the facts here

Canola oil has been considered by some as healthy vegetable oil for some time due to its low amounts of saturated fat and potential heart health benefits.

Some claim it is a poisonous GMO with the potential to ruin overall wellbeing.

Canola oil, to eat or avoid? – Photo by Silvia Rita

So what’s true and what’s fiction?

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about canola oil, information backed by unbiased science, today!

What is Canola Oil?

The canola plant (Brassica napus L.) is a rapeseed crop that does not naturally occur in the wild. It was created through plant crossbreeding, primarily residing in western Canada.

Canola was named by a mostly faceless group of food developers, a source of criticism to this day.

How is Canola Oil Made?

There are a variety of steps in the process of making traditional canola oil.

  1. Cleaning seeds of impurities
  2. Treating and flaking seeds to destroy the seed cell wall
  3. Cooking at about 176–221℉ (80°–105°C) for 20 minutes
  4. Pressing to remove 50% of the oil
  5. Solvent extraction with chemical call hexane to obtain the rest of the oil
  6. Reheating and steaming, to remove hexane
  7. Refining to process the oil through filtration, distillation, and phosphoric acid.

Some canola can be made into margarine through hydrogenation, though this creates trans fat.

These are harmful to health, and linked to heart disease, promoting their ban of use in foods.

Nutrition Information about Canola Oil

Canola oil is composed of saturated fat (7%) monounsaturated fat (64%) and polyunsaturated fat (28%).

1 tbsp has about 125 calories, and vitamin E and K.

Unproven Myths About Canola Oil

Some claims about canola oil have not been proven.

Some claim it is responsible for mad cow disease, is an ingredient in toxic gas, can cause cancer, and a plethora of illnesses such as anemia, constipation, and irritability.

These are hearsay and have not been proven.

Real Concerns about Canola Oil

Here are real concerns surrounding canola oil.

Hexanes are Used in Making Canola Oil

As stated above, hexane, along with other chemicals, are typically used to further process canola oil.

It is commonly used to extract oil from vegetables and seeds, such as corn, peanuts, soybean, etc.

Hexanes are not great for human health. It is used as a solvent for glue, a cleaning agent, and for thermometers.

Inhaled, it has neurotoxic effects, dizziness, nausea, and headache. Chronic exposure leads to numbness in extremities, muscle weakness, headaches, and blurred vision.

According to Frank Gunstone, a chemist, the amount is not significant.

However, some who would prefer to avoid any hexane may try to find cold press canola, oil extracted in low temperatures, without heat or chemicals.

This, however, drives up the cost of canola oil and is difficult to find.

Canola Oil May Contain Artificial Trans Fat

Some canola oil products contain up to 4.2% of trans fats.

Artificial trans fat can harm the body, even when consumed in small amounts. The World Health Organization has called for its elimination by 2023. 

These levels vary from product to product and may be much lower.

Unbalanced Omega 3 and Omega 6

Canola oil is high in omega 6.

While omega-six is essential to health and is vital in the body, an imbalance found in many refined foods can cause inflammation, dementiaobesity, and heart disease.

Highly Refined

The highly refined nature of canola oil strips it of fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins.

Cold press oils tend to preserve their nutrition, while chemicals and heat tend to alter molecules, leading to harmful effects in the body.

Animals Studies show Negative Side Effects 

Several studies have found inflammation, oxidative stress, increases in cholesterol, and decreased memory.

More information about these harmful effects can be found in an article by Mary Enig and Sally Fallon, “The Great Con-ola.”

Positive Research Results About Canola Oil…Paid for By the Canola Industry

A lot of scientific research that found benefits in canola oil was paid for by the canola industry, creating a source of bias and concern.

The Takeaway

Some nutritionists and dietitians avoid canola oil, some use it.

It is a highly processed oil that is overheated and treated with chemicals. 

The unsaturated fatty acid it contains can undergo a reaction at high temperatures, creating molecules that harm the body.

This is the reason canola oil should not be used for frying.

If canola oil is still your go-to, try to find it cold-pressed and do not use it to cook at high temperatures.

There are less processed, safer options such as avocado and sesame oil.

Remember, health starts from within!

Your body is the home you grow up in; give it the building blocks it needs to thrive.

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