Canola oil has practically become the oil of choice in the food processing industry. Whether it's in mayonnaise, French fries, or salad dressings, canola oil is usually the first, second, or third ingredient on the list. Unfortunately, the health dangers of canola oil are far beyond what we are led to believe.
So, if there really are no good health reasons to use it, why is it so widely used in the food industry? Certain ingredients take precedence over others, for one simple reason: price. Canola oil is extremely inexpensive to grow and harvest. It is also very easy to grow, due to its genetic modifications.
Canola oil was first created in the early 1970s as a natural oil. But in 1995, Monsanto created a genetically modified version of canola oil. In 2009, more than 90 percent of the canola oil crop in Canada was genetically modified.
What is canola oil?
Canola oil comes from a descendant of the rapeseed plant, a member of the Brassica genus, along with some of our favorite vegetables like kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. Rapeseed oil was released for human consumption in the 1950s, but not many people wanted to consume it because of its strong taste and unpleasant color.
Scientists at that time began to discover that erucic acid, one of the main fatty acid components of the oil (more than 50%), was harmful to heart tissue. Meanwhile, olive oil began to be marketed as the next great healthy product.
So, what did the sellers do about rapeseed oil? Give it a makeover, of course!
After selective breeding and careful marketing, rapeseed oil was now low in erucic acid, high in oleic acid (much like heart-healthy olive oil), high in omega-3 fats, and had a neutral taste. The rapeseed name was replaced with canola.
While canola oil has been marketed as a healthy oil, low in saturated fat and a source of omega-3 fatty acids, it is far from truly being that. Not only is canola oil genetically modified, it is heavily processed and refined, contributing to certain health problems in the body.
8 health dangers of canola oil
Canola oil is not the healthy oil that you have been led to believe it is. There are so many dangers in consuming canola oil that anyone in their right mind would steer clear of it. Here are some reasons why canola oil should never set foot in your home again.
1. Canola oil is hydrogenated oil
If it is not "cold pressed" or is "extra virgin", the oil is considered refined. This process includes caustic refining, bleaching, and degumming, all of which involve high temperatures or chemicals that are harmful to the human body. Last but not least comes the deodorization process.
Because canola oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, it becomes rancid and smelly easily when subjected to oxygen and high temperatures. The standard deodorization process removes a large part of omega-3 fatty acids by converting them to trans fatty acids.
If you consume vegetable oils that are oxidized by heat and light in their processing, you will be exposing the tissues of your body to oxidized or rancid products. This contributes to degenerative diseases and chronic inflammation.
2. It is a genetically modified product
More than 90% of all canola oil is produced from genetically modified crops. While genetic modification is successful in reducing the erucic acid content, it also increases the amount of oleic acid.
Health problems related to oleic acid include:
· Growth retardation (prohibited in infant formulas)
· Abnormalities in blood platelets
· Free radical damage
· Increased risk of developing certain types of cancer
Genetically modified foods also promote some very serious health problems, such as allergic reactions, immunosuppression, toxicity, and loss of nutrition through the foods we eat.
3. Increased risk of developing cancer
Canola oil is extremely unstable under heat, light, and pressure, causing oxidation and releasing free radicals within the body. When canola oil is heated (when we cook with it, for example), it produces high levels of butadiene, benzene, acrolein, formaldehyde, and other unpleasant compounds.
These chemical compounds, combined with an increase in free radicals create the perfect environment for the development of cancer.
Researchers have discovered that cancer cells feed on the oleic acid in canola oil. Acid makes cancer cells stronger and maintains their malignancy. Additional research has also shown that oleic acid promotes tumor progression.
Taking into account the number of free radicals released in canola oil after cooking, it is no wonder that this oil is a trigger for cancer growth. Free radicals are highly reactive chemicals that play an important role in the mutation of cancer cells.
4. Promotes heart disease
Although genetic modification has reduced the levels of erucic acid in canola oil, it is still a major source of the acid. Erucic acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid that has been linked to heart damage, specifically Keshan disease (a thickening and scarring of the connective tissue within the heart).
Studies have shown that in areas where people are prone to Keshan disease, erucic acid levels are higher and selenium levels are lower.
Canola oil is also capable of promoting high levels of inflammation in the body, in addition to arterial calcification. Any oil that is partially hydrogenated has the ability to do this. As you may have guessed, systemic inflammation and calcification are the main risk factors for coronary heart disease.
5. Interferes with healthy brain function
A recent study has linked canola oil to the indicative decline in memory and learning that occurs in Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia.
The study found that the brains of mice treated with canola oil had higher amounts of amyloid plaques, as well as decreased contact between brain neurons.
Canola oil, being an inflammatory food, contributes to poor brain function. Chronic inflammation, as you already know, is bad for the body. It attacks healthy cells, blood vessels, and tissues instead of protecting them.
The oil can stop energy production in brain cells and slow the firing of neurons, contributing to ADHD, anxiety, brain fog, depression, memory loss, and Alzheimer's.
6. Hypertension and strokes
Being one of the main contributors to inflammation in the body, canola oil negatively affects our cardiovascular system, particularly blood pressure. Studies have found that canola oil shortens the life expectancy of stroke and hypertensive animals.
One study explored the relationship between rats fed canola oil and rats fed diets without canola oil. All the rats were raised to have high blood pressure and a propensity for stroke.
However, rats that were fed canola oil died earlier, and rats fed diets without canola oil lived longer.
Another study looked at the effects of canola and soybean oil on blood clotting time and erythrocytes (a type of red blood cell) in hypertensive rats prone to stroke.
The study found that there was a "canola oil-induced shortening of blood clotting time and increased fragility in [red blood cell membranes]," which can trigger strokes in animal subjects who are prone to strokes.
7. It negatively affects our detoxification organs
Being a genetically modified food product, canola oil affects our liver and kidneys.
A 2011 review of 19 different studies involving mammals fed genetically modified soybeans and corn for a period of 90 days, found that GM foods can alter kidney and liver function.
The review stated that in the aforementioned trials, kidney function was reduced by 43.5%, while liver function was reduced by 30.8%.
Vegetable oils also lack oxidative stability, so they quickly go rancid if left untreated. Food manufacturers solved this problem by adding synthetic antioxidants like TBHQ, BHA, and BHT. When consumed in large doses, these preservatives can cause liver tumors as well as enlargement of the liver.
While the preservatives in canola oil are not enough to cause adverse effects, the build-up of such products is more than enough. We can easily exceed the acceptable limits of consumption of condoms if our diet subsists on many processed foods. The amounts add up over time and our health suffers as a result.
If you want your detoxification organs to function properly, avoid canola oil, processed foods with added vegetable oils, and other genetically modified products.
8. It can hinder normal growth in children
The erucic acid in canola oil was the main reason why canola oil was banned from infant formula. The erucic acid in canola oil is harmful to babies, due to its inability to break it down properly.
While the FDA previously made canola oil illegal for use in baby formulas, that is no longer the case. For a few years now, canola oil has been considered safe to use, which means that infant formula companies can use as much canola oil as they want in their formula.
The best oils to replace canola oil
So, what oils can you use? It depends on what you want to use them for.
1. Coconut oil
Coconut oil is best when cold pressed and virgin. Do your best to avoid refined coconut oil. Coconut oil has a high smoke point, which means that it does not convert to trans fatty acids when heated.
Coconut oil also contains medium-chain fatty acids, which promote nervous system health and also promote fat loss.
2. Olive oil
Olive oil is a great option when you don't have to cook anything. Get an organic extra virgin or cold pressed olive oil that is available in dark colored glass preferably.
Some fake olive oils are mixed with cheaper GMO vegetable oils, so always make sure it is non-GMO and organic.
3. Avocado oil
Avocado oil has a high smoke point just like coconut oil, so it can be safely cooked at high temperatures. Alternatively, you can also use this oil in its raw form in salads and similar foods.
4. Sesame oil
Sesame oil is another great cooking option. It has a high smoke point and does not hybridize like canola and other vegetable oils. Sesame oil works great in stir fries and makes a great salad dressing with coconut aminos and a little ginger.