The Problem with Canola Oil

Recently I went to dinner with friends. As usual, I questioned our server extensively about the kitchen’s use of canola oil. My purpose is not to disparage restaurants, but I would urge you, not to always believe what your server reports.Unknown

Almost every restaurant uses canola oil, either by itself or to cut costs by combining it with more expensive olive oil.

I urge all my clients to reject canola oil and do what ever they can to avoid using it. Here’s why.

Hundreds of years ago, humans were processing rapeseed to extract the oil. It was not used as a food product but as a lubricant. Usage increased as the Industrial Revolution gathered steam and it also became particularly useful in keeping machine parts clean.

The railroad used it extensively to clean engines and as a lubricant. Rapeseed was too high in a number of substances (uric acid among them) to be used as a food source.

Researchers at the University of Manitoba reengineered the seed, using hybridization techniques, to create a seed that had fewer harmful chemicals and was much closer in taste to olive oil.

This is what we now call canola oil, a name created by marketing types to separate it from the reputation of rapeseed oil. “Canola” stands for Canadian Oil (some believe it stands for Canada Oil, Low Acid).

These days the rapeseed is created by plants using GMO techniques. Since 1995, according to Kris Gunnars of Authority Nutrition, Monsanto has manufactured rapeseeds that are genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicide RoundUp.

Today, about 90% of the world’s canola crop is genetically modified.

Additionally, the extraction of the oil involves chemical separation using hexane – a known carcinogen.

Production of the oil is a very technical process, unlike the simple processes used to make other popular fats/oils, such as butter, olive oil or coconut oil.

The fact that it is exposed to high heat can be problematic since the oil is high in polyunsaturated fats, which are very sensitive to high heat and easily become oxidized (rancid).

Hexane is used to extract the oil from the seeds and trace amounts of it have sometimes been found in the final product.

You just can’t tell how much of the final product is damaged during the manufacturing process because the oil is also deodorized, which removes the smell.

One study analyzed canola and soybean oils found on store shelves in the U.S. They found that up to 4.2% of the fatty acids in them were toxic trans fats.

While the Canola industry claims it is entirely safe, others point to the Hexane residue and GMO sourcing as major problems.

By comparison, cold-pressed and organic canola oil has not gone through the same process and won’t contain so many oxidized fats or trans fats.

Unfortunately, the great majority of rapeseed/canola oils are made with the industrial processing method.

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