Since the early 1990’s canola oil has been touted as a healthy oil option for high temperature cooking. It has been revered for it’s low fat, low calorie capabilities, and its high source of omega-3s compared to its saturated fat counterparts like butter, lard, and coconut oil. Extracted from the rape seed this oil, has become the new substitute for cooking with corn or soybean oils. After much research, scientists are finding dangerous side effects resulting from consumption of this oil. For example, Canadian researchers found that piglets fed milk replacement containing canola oil showed signs of vitamin E deficiency, even though the milk replacement contained adequate amounts of vitamin E. Piglets fed soybean oil-based milk replacement, fortified with the same amount of vitamin E, did not show an increased requirement for vitamin E.
Vitamin E protects cell membranes against free radical damage and is vital to a healthy cardiovascular system. This same group also discovered that piglets fed canola oil suffered from a decrease in platelet count and an increase in platelet size. So bleeding time was longer in piglets fed both canola oil. Furthermore, it seems to also retard growth, which is why the FDA does not allow the use of canola oil in infant formula.
If that’s not enough to scare you, lets review the processing of canola oils in factories. Canola oil goes through the process of caustic refining, bleaching and degumming – all of which involve very high temperatures(responsible for destroying the integrity of the molecules) or chemicals of questionable safety. And because canola oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which easily become rancid and foul-smelling when subjected to oxygen and high temperatures through this process, it then must be deodorized. This deodorization process removes a large portion of the omega-3 fatty acids by turning them into trans fatty acids. So in essence what this oil is praised for doesn’t actually exist.
In fact, the University of Florida at Gainesville found trans fatty acid levels as high as 4.6 per cent in commercial liquid oil. The average consumer is naive to the presence of trans fatty acids in canola oil because they are not listed on the label.
Canola oil has been praised and compared to having health benefits of olive oil another monounsaturated fat praised for its omega-3 possessing qualities. However, recent studies are starting to discover that there is a association between higher monounsaturated fat consumption and an increased risk of breast cancer.
Even the dogma that monounsaturated fatty acids are good for the heart is at risk. According to a 1998 report, mice fed a diet containing monounsaturated fats were more likely to develop atherosclerosis than mice fed a diet containing saturated fat. In fact, the mice fed monounsaturated fats were even more prone to heart disease than those fed polyunsaturated fatty acids.
In summary, when it comes to cooking, the best options for high temperature cooking are saturated fats such as coconut oil, lard or butter, for lower temperature cooking olive oil is fine every once in awhile. Keep away from canola oil, as it is very evident that its so-called health benefits are hardly factual. You will find that many times what is praised in the media as being a healthy choice most often times is backed up by financial stacks in agriculture bottom lines.
Andrea King is a La Jolla personal trainer and also offers San Diego nutrition coaching programs. She takes a holistic appraoch to her coaching and looks to reveal the truth behind misconceptions in main stream media.