And that really is a shame, too.
The problem with today’s health food craze is there’s a substantial amount of misinformation being parroted by health “gurus,” that’s not even close to the truth.
And, even worse, is just how far these lies have reached. This is particularly true when it comes to fats/oils.
Today I’m going on the attack against canola oil.
That’s right, this “heart-healthy” oil is anything but.
The problem is it’s in just about everything. It’s on veggie chips, it’s in dairy-free cheeses, it’s on roasted seeds and nuts, in certain packaged meats, and so much more.
Trying to get away from canola oil is about as hard as trying to lose your shadow.
With that being said, it can be done - it just takes a strong will, as well as eyes to see (you know, to read the ingredients of your foods).
You’ll Never Believe Where Canola Oil Came From
When I found out where canola oil originated, I said, “Are you serious?!?”
Canola oil stands for Canada Oil Low Acid.
And, unless you’re a hippy, you’d think “low acid” is inherently good.
Well, more on that in a minute.
Canola oil comes from the grape plant. Yes, canola oil is really grapeseed oil.
While that might sound bad, the original use for rapeseed oil/canola oil is its most startling attribute.
Rapeseed oil had long been used to lubricate industrial machinery (similar to the way you'd use motor oil to lubricate your car).
Rapeseed oil became quite popular during World War II, as the U.S. military had a high demand for the construction of heavy machinery. To build all the tanks, planes, and ships, the military required the use of huge machines - and to run those machines, they needed an industrial lubricant.
Enter rapeseed oil.
As luck would have it, our neighbors to the north were quite capable of producing millions of gallons of rapeseed oil for our industrial needs.
Well, once the war ended, the need for rapeseed oil quickly declined.
But, since there was so much of it on hand, farmers now had to figure out how they could get rid of their built-up supplies (see how bad this looks?).
The Evolution of Canola Oil From Monster To Monster
What scientists knew at the time was the rapeseed oil used on heavy machinery wasn’t the best type of oil to be used in food products (it wasn’t exactly fit for human consumption, even though they did try).
This is because rapeseed oil was made of mostly erucic acid. Erucic acid has been associated with Keshan disease, which causes fibrotic heart lesions.
Knowing that, they began to engineer rapeseed oil into an oil that contained significantly less erucic acid so it could be ingested “safely.”
When they finally came up with their new product, they named it "canola oil." The low acid refers to erucic acid, which is what made it safe.
Over the years, biotech companies have messed with the genetic structure of this plant, and now they’ve made it so it won’t die even when sprayed with herbicides and pesticides.
You can watch this short video to see exactly how it’s produced.
The reason canola oil took off in popularity had everything to do with its fatty acid composition.
Canola oil is made up largely of monounsaturated fats, which is why it’s touted as being "healthier" for the body than oils consisting of mostly polyunsaturated fats.
At the same time canola oil was being engineered, olive oil was gaining popularity for being made up of mostly monounsaturated fats.
Canola oil became popular for the same reasons; plus, it was far cheaper than olive oil, which really caused its popularity to soar.
But cheaper doesn’t mean better, and as its popularity took off like a rocket, so did many of the damaging health effects associated with its use.
The #1 Reason Canola Oil Isn’t Good For You
The biggest downfall of canola oil is that it’s high in inflammatory fatty acids.
Yes, canola oil is high in monounsaturated fats – around 55-65% – similar to olive oil and other healthy plant-based oils. However, the biggest thing to worry about is the other 28-35% of it - this part is comprised of polyunsaturated fats, with another small portion being saturated fat.
The dangers posed by canola oil can be traced back to the production process. If you watched the video, you saw how processed canola oil actually is. The processing of canola oil leaves those 28-35% polyunsaturated fats unstable.
Instability in fats leads to oxidization, which can lead to the creation of free radicals in your body. This, of course, will produce inflammation, which is the cause of many health conditions such as poor immuine health, blood sugar fluctuations, poor nerve health, and poor heart health.
Problem is, it doesn’t take much to make those polyunsaturated fats become unstable.
Light, heat, and changes in pressure can all cause that portion of fats to oxidize; not to mention, there are several other serious problems associated with the processing of canola oil.
For one, canola oil can only be processed in the presence of toxic petroleum-based solvents.
You read that correctly - the same product extracted from the ground for motor oil and gasoline comes into contact with the food you eat.
One of the most problematic of these solvents is hexane. Hexane has been proven to cause nerve damage; and yet, there it is being used to make the oil that coats your “organic” popcorn.
Plus, canola oil is deodorized and bleached, which turns its healthy omega-3s into harmful trans fats. Trans fats are what lead to decreased heart health, and yet “heart-healthy” canola oil became one of the main vehicles for delivering them to your body.
Even if those omega-3s didn’t transition into trans fats, they’d still have limited usefulness.
Plant-based omega-3s are known as Alpha-Linolenic Acids (ALA), and the human body is very inefficient at converting ALA into the end-stage forms of omega-3 you need (DHA/EPA). You’re much better off getting your omega-3s from animals capable of converting ALA to DHA/EPA than you are from a plant.
When you look at it objectively, you can see how it becomes a big problem for human health when so many products in the American diet contain canola oil.
Ultimately, canola oil produces inflammation, and inflammation is one of the leading causes of death in the United States.
So is it really unsafe?
Natural Health Online writes:
While canola oil is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS), the fact remains that there are currently no long-term studies available on its effect on humans. The few studies that are available were done on animals.
An unpublished but verified study done in Japan in 1996 discovered that a special canola oil diet killed laboratory animals. Canadian scientists then did a second study the following year using piglets and a canola oil-based milk replacer diet. The results? The piglets' vitamin E dropped to dangerously low levels.
It was concluded that canola oil depletes vitamin E levels quickly. This is dangerous as vitamin E is responsible for protecting your body from the free radical activity caused by lipid pre-oxidation.
If you need another reason to stay away from canola oil, almost 100% of all canola oil manufactured today is GMO.
GMOs have no long-term data to support their health, but plenty of short-term studies show GMOs to be related to many common health maladies.
If you’re going to use plant-based oils to cook, use olive oil, palm oil, or coconut oil instead.
It might be hard to escape canola oil since it’s in many of the foods we rely on.
But I highly suggest doing your due diligence and seeing what foods you presently eat that contain canola oil, and getting rid of them.
It won’t be the easiest thing in the world to do, but it’ll make a world of difference in how you feel.