The Dirty Truth About Canola Oil

I was in the grocery store with a client educating her on healthy oils to keep in her pantry such as olive oil and coconut oil when this young lady came by and said

“I need some canola oil it’s healthier than vegetable oil.”  When I heard this, I couldn’t help myself — I wanted to let her know that canola oil is not healthy so I told her to visit my website for healthy tips on food and recipes and overall health and wellness. This  encounter is what prompted me to share the following canola oil facts with you.

The dirty truth about canola oil

Yes, it’s true that canola oil is high in monounsaturates, but let me explain why canola oil is anything but “healthy”.

Canola oil is made from something called rapeseed. Rapeseed actually had to be bred over the years to reduce the percentage of a problematic component of rapeseed, which is erucic acid.

Important note on canola oil “urban legends”:  There is a problem with most websites that DEFEND canola oil, saying that internet “urban legends” on the dangers of canola oil are unfounded.  The problem is that these websites that defend canola oil ONLY talk about the issue of erucic acid.  The issue of erucic acid IS an urban legend, because erucic acid has been bred out to very low levels over the years, so it is a non-issue.

However, these websites that defend canola oil are barking up the wrong tree because they don’t address the issue of the processing of canola oil and oxidation of the polyunsaturated component of canola oil, which is what makes it unhealthy for human consumption.  THAT’S the real issue that they either don’t understand (because they are not nutrition experts) or are simply ignoring.

Let’s look at the REAL issues with canola oil:

Canola oil typically ranges between 55-65% monounsaturated fat and between 28-35% polyunsaturated fat, with just a small amount of saturated fat.

While we’ve been led to believe that high monounsaturated fat oils are good for us (which they are in the case of virgin olive oil or from unprocessed nuts or seeds), the fact is that canola oil has more detriments than it does benefits.

As you may have heard me talk about in other articles … one of the biggest problems with highly processed and refined vegetable oils such as corn oil, soybean oil, and yes, even canola oil, is that the polyunsaturated component of the oil is highly unstable under heat, light, and pressure, and this heavily oxidizes the polyunsaturates which increases free radicals in your body.

The end result of all of this refining and processing are oils that are highly inflammatory in your body when you ingest them, potentially contributing to heart disease, weight gain, and other degenerative diseases.

The reason that extra virgin olive oil is good for you is that it is cold pressed without the use of heat and solvents to aid extraction. EVOO also contains important antioxidants that help protect the stability of the oil.

Canola oil, on the other hand, is typically extracted and refined using high heat, pressure, and petroleum solvents such as hexane. Most canola oil undergoes a process of caustic refining, degumming, bleaching, and deoderization, all using high heat and questionable chemicals.

Does canola even have trans fats?

Even worse, all of this high heat, high pressure processing with solvents actually forces some of the omega-3 content of canola oil to be transformed into trans fats.

According to Dr. Mary Enig, PhD, and Nutritional Biochemist, “Although the Canadian government lists the trans fat content of canola at a minimal 0.2 percent, research at the University of Florida at Gainesville, found trans fat levels as high as 4.6 percent in commercial liquid canola oil”.

And this is the crap that they are marketing to you as a “healthy oil”!

As you can see from the details above on how canola oil is processed, it is barely any healthier for you than other junk oils like soybean oil or corn oil.  The bottom line is that it is an inflammatory oil in your body and should be avoided as much as possible.

The only canola oil that might be reasonable is if you see that it is “cold pressed” and organic. Most canola oil is NOT cold pressed or organic, so you might as well choose oils that you know are healthier.

Your best bets are these truly healthy oils:

  • extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) – for lower temperature cooking or used as a healthy salad dressing oil
  • Virgin coconut oilgreat for all temperatures of cooking due to its super high stability under heat.  Supports weight loss when used in it’s virgin form (use in your smoothies). A great source of healthy saturated fats in the form of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), one of which is Lauric Acid, which helps support the immune system and is lacking in most western diets.

So don’t be fooled by food labels claiming that they contain “healthy canola oil”… as you can see, this couldn’t be further from the truth!  Choose some of the healthier options above and your body will thank you!

Childhood Obesity

It’s national childhood obesity week, and we’re all aware that this is currently a huge problem both in the US and most of the world over.

Statistics reveal that 25 percent of boys and 33 percent of girls aged between 2 and 19 years are overweight or obese and there is little evidence to suggest that this number will soon be decreasing.

Obesity currently costs the country several billion dollars and shortens lives by around nine years, due to associated health problems.

But, just what are the effects of childhood obesity?

Childhood obesity can have a harmful effect on the body in a variety of ways. Obese children are more likely to have:

– High blood pressure and high cholesterol, which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD). In one study, 70% of obese children had at least one CVD risk factor, and 39% had two or more.

– Increased risk of impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

– Breathing problems, such as sleep apnea, and asthma.

– Joint problems and musculoskeletal discomfort.

– Fatty liver disease, gallstones, and gastro-esophageal reflux (i.e., heartburn).

– Obese children and adolescents have a greater risk of social and psychological problems, such as discrimination and poor self-esteem, which can continue into adulthood.

But it’s not just these that will affect them now, there are health risks that could effect them later in life too:
– Obese children are more likely to become obese adults.
– Adult obesity is associated with a number of serious health conditions including heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.
– If children are overweight, obesity in adulthood is likely to be more severe.
If you’re worried your child is overweight, talk to your doctor and ask for help from a nutritional consultant. Avoid starting your child on an aggressive diet. Instead, make long-term lifestyle changes to healthy eating for the entire family, and get your child involved in sports or exercise.
It may also be worth talking to your child’s school and see if you can help make changes to the lunch menu or send your child to school with healthy alternatives.