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Organic Consumers Association

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Canola Oil — When a Great Oil Isn’t so Great After All

Canola oil is widely promoted as “one of the best oils for heart health.”1 However, this information is rather flawed, as canola oil and similar highly processed cooking oils hold untold dangers to your health. 

Read on to learn what you should know about canola oil, and what my personal recommendations for the best cooking oil are.

What is canola oil?

Referred to as “the healthiest cooking oil” by its makers, canola oil is low in saturated fats and high in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) such as oleic acid, linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic (ALA).2,3 The oil is produced from a series of processes ranging from solvent extraction with hexane, to refining, bleaching and deodorization.4

Although canola is a type of rapeseed, the canola you see on store shelves is not the rapeseed you may be familiar with that is used for industrial and nonedible purposes, such as for lubricants, plastics and hydraulic fluids. The edible canola oil, on the other hand, is specifically grown as a food crop, genetically altered to contain significantly lower levels of erucic acid and glucosinolate in it, which makes it safe to eat.5

The modification focuses on broadening the seasons and regions where the plants can be cultivated and maximizing yield. The bad news is that in order to boost the resistance, researchers have developed herbicide-tolerant canola, including Roundup-ready and Liberty-tolerant types.6

How is canola oil used?

Canola oil is a common ingredient in food products such as salad dressings, salad oil and margarines.7

Even though it’s marketed as a food product, according to the Canola Council of Canada, once plant-sourced oils like canola oil are processed they “can be used industrially to formulate lubricants, oils, fuels, soaps, paints, plastics, cosmetics or inks.” 

Canola can also be used to produce ethanol and biodiesel. The point is, the Canola Council says, is that “just because you can do this doesn’t make the approved food oils at the grocery store somehow poisonous or harmful.”8

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20% off Mercola's Full Spectrum Hemp Oil and 20% goes to Organic Consumers Association.