You have probably heard us talk about the importance of consuming healthy fats and healthy oils—healthy oils being olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, almond oil, to name a handful—but we haven’t talked much about the negative consequences of consuming less healthy oils. Like the evil canola oil.
Health tip of the day: Go ditch that giant bottle of poisonous vegetable oil that has been lingering in your pantry for years! Because, quite literally, canola oil has fundamental elements that are poisonous to humans.
Have you ever thought about where canola oil comes from? It doesn’t come from canola. In fact, canola isn’t even a thing. When it first because popular in the years following WWII, canola oil was called LEAR, which stood for low-erucic acid rapeseed. Considering erucic acid is poisonous and rapeseed doesn’t exactly sound appealing, the name was soon changed to canola oil, basically for marketing purposes.
Seems like it was probably a good idea. Who wants to consume something called erucic acid rapeseed?
But that is what canola oil is: It comes from the rapeseeds of a rape plant, which contain erucic acic, and erucic acid is NOT something we want to be eating. In rodents, erucic acid has shown to produce fatty deposits in the heart, the muscle and the adrenals and impair their growth. You can read more about erucic acid here: (https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/erucic-acid).
As canola oil became more and more popular, people started to fear the erucic acid component of it. This led to plant and canola oil producers initiating programs to reduce the levels of erucic acid in rapeseed oil. By 1974 in Canada, 95 percent of rapeseed oil was considered “low-erucic acid,” and therefore deemed safe for human consumption (this means it allegedly contains less than 2 percent erucic acid).
Though less than 2 percent might be considered safe, or at least it won’t kill you, let me ask you this: Why would you want to consume oil with even 2 percent poison? Why wouldn’t you aim to consume healthier oils with 0 percent poison?
OK, erucic acid aside….
Another reason canola oil should be avoided is because it’s generally quite processed. By 2005, 87 percent of canola oil in the U.S. was found to be genetically modified, and by 2009, 90 percent of Canadian canola oil was genetically engineered.
The process of making canola oil—a refined oil—means it goes through a procedure of bleaching and degumming at high temperatures and with the help of chemicals. And because Canola oil is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, it’s susceptible to becoming rancid and smelly, so it also has to be deodorized before it can go to market. This process involves actually removing some of the Omega-3 fat acids and turning them into trans fatty acids.
Even though we’re led to believe that the trans fat content in canola oil is less than 0.2 percent, research done at the University of Florida discovered some canola oil has trans fat levels as high as 3.6 percent. Meanwhile, another study published in the Journal of Food Lipids discovered trans fat levels in various canola oils were between 0.56% and 4.2%. Of course these levels aren’t listed on the label. (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1745-4522.1994.tb00244.x)
All of this means health consequences to you. Two commonly believed dangers of canola oil include:
GMOs: Bad for the kidneys and liver…and all sorts of other things
Check out this 2011 study published in Environmental Sciences Europe for more about the health consequences on your kidneys and liver from consuming GMOs: (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/2190-4715-23-10).
Other known side effects of consuming GMOs include: an increased chance of cancer, antibiotic resistance, allergic reactions, and a suppressed immune system. Read more here: (http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/issues/311/ge-foods/ge-food-and-your-health#)
Hydrogenation: Bad for the heart
Partial hydrogenation, as is the case with canola oil, has been linked to inflammation and calcification of the arteries, which are two known dangers linked to developing heart problems.
Further, when the oil goes through the hydrogenation process, it often increases the levels of trans fats, which are known to increase your bad cholesterol (LDL) and decrease your good cholesterol (HDL), which is also bad for the whole developing heart disease thing.
Finally, for what it’s worth, animal studies have shown links between canola oil and strokes, as well as to high blood pressure (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11745-000-539-5#page-1).
So…go do it if you haven’t already: Ditch the canola oil and replace it with the likes of olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil or almond oil…