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Q. How Healthy Is Canola Oil Really?

By Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D., March/April 2010

How Healthy is Canola Oil?

A. Canola oil comes from canola seeds. They are a genetic variation of rapeseed that was developed in the 1960s using traditional plant-breeding methods to make the rapeseed more palatable.

But canola often gets a bad rap. For example, we get questions from people who’ve heard canola oil is toxic and can cause various diseases, from emphysema to Mad Cow. The truth is there are no sound scientific studies suggesting a link between canola oil and any disease.

We also hear concerns that canola oil is genetically engineered (GE). This is true—most canola (93 percent in the U.S.) is GE. If that’s a concern for you, choose certified organic.

EatingWell often uses canola oil in our recipes because it’s one of the healthiest oil choices. It’s a good source of monounsaturated fats, the kind that, when used to replace saturated fats like butter and cheese, can help reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease. Canola is the richest cooking-oil source of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fat that has been linked to heart health.

Canola is also versatile: it has a neutral taste, light texture and a medium-high smoke point, so it works well for sautéing and baking. (An oil’s smoke point is the temperature at which it begins to smoke. When it does, disease-causing carcinogens and free radicals are released, so you never want to heat your oil to that point.)

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COMMENTS POSTEDsort icon

If you arent willing to eat foods that have been bred by man, you have to stop eating all veggies. Man has been choosing the seeds of plants that have desirable qualities since agriculture began. Example: most apple as nature made them are inedible, but people found a few that where sweet enough to eat, they planted the seeds of those to get more. Then(a few years later) they bred them with larger less sweet apples to get big, sweet apples, all before anybody had any knowledge of genetics. This is what was done in the sixties they selected plants that had a natural mutation to having low acid and then bred them together until they had "true" (a seed that will reliably produce offspring with the desired quality) seed. Remember tenth grade biology and Mendal? So you can have organic canola oil

All that said the canola oil here in the US is mostly GMO, where scientists with too much understanding of genetics take a gene of one organism, say a Salmon and splice it into the DNA of say a Tomato (they really did it). So canola oil may be good or bad for you, but, GMO canola oil most likely contains genes from Bt, a bacteria that kills soft bodied insects that like to feed on brassica's. (I did not research this but I would bet on it.) What effect does this gene (it is in a lot of foods) have on people? No one really knows. Genetics are complicated and messing with them has historically led to unintended consequences. Could this gene that makes little bugs so ill also make us ill? could it turn on or off other genes in the plants that could harm us? Again no research, just people who do not have a complete understanding of what they are working with telling us as far as they can recon it shouldn't. All I ask for is a label and a choice.

Anonymous

05/24/2014 - 6:09pm

The writer says: " ... there are no sound scientific studies suggesting a link between canola oil and any disease." Then goes on to say, "(it) can help reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease.

I thought there were NO studies.

I have given up canola oil, fructose glucose, and gluten in the past year and have lost 18 pounds without trying. No bad huh.

Anonymous

05/23/2014 - 9:09pm

I don't know about the genetic modifications, but I do know that canola oil makes me sick. Every time I have anything with canola in it I get muscle knots. I get them in the back of my neck, causing headaches; I get them in the back of my calf muscles causing plantar fasciatis; I get them in my shoulders causing tendonitis; and I even get them in my intestines causing digestion issues. Ever since I eliminated canola oil from my diet about four weeks ago -- no more muscle knots. And I've gone from having daily migraine headaches to only one sinus-related migraine in a month.

I don't have a *medical* opinion on whether cross-bred toxic rapeseed plants that have been genetically modified are safe for human consumption, but I know that canola oil is not good for *me.*

Anonymous

05/22/2014 - 4:00pm

a whole lot of food is "man-made" now, i.e. hybridized. Whatever you don't eat a pluot. Instant death from attempted pronunciation.

Anonymous

04/25/2014 - 8:37pm

Well if DuPont and Viterra made it then it must be good for you!

Anonymous

04/16/2014 - 6:05pm

Forget US Canola oil. Buy cold pressed organic rapeseed oil from the UK. GM foods are not used in food in the Uk yet.
Margaret

Anonymous

04/05/2014 - 1:54pm

solid article. Well written. Dont listen to them haters.

Anonymous

03/10/2014 - 9:37am

Seems like a lot of people commenting have GMO mixed up with hybridization, whether with plants or animals. Yes, a certain amount of genetic "engineering" occurs with plants and animals, and has been done over several decades. Generally this has been done between "like" organisms in the case of plants (ie: one kind of rose pollinated to another to create a "hybrid", or tomatoes). In the case of animals, a true hybrid would be, for example, a mule -- a cross between a horse and a donkey. In the case of most hybrids, the resulting plant/animal is sterile, that is, unable to reproduce. This hybrid sterility prevents the movement of genes from one species to the other, keeping both species distinct. In the case of canines (dogs), the offspring are bred with specific traits in mind. So puppies that show distinct desirable traits are bred while the ones who do not show these traits are not. Eventually the undesired traits disappear from the genetic line, but naturally takes several generations of animals to bring to effect.

Genetically Modified Organisms, on the other hand, as understood in its present day sense, is far FAR different. GMO as it is understood and utilized today is genetic modification on a scientific scale involving the mutation, insertion, or deletion of genes, most often between DIFFERENT SPECIES. It may require a viral vector or the insertion of the genetic material of one species into the nucleus of another.

This is where the problem lies. When we are dealing with this level of manipulation, whether it be the introduction of fish genes into tomatoes, or creating a goat that makes spider silk in its milk, the negative ramifications are underplayed. The potential for mutations to occur, for unknown effects to the animals or their progeny, the effects of foods consumed with foreign genes within it are vast and unpredictable. The resistance in Roundup Ready canola has already passed into the weeds it was meant to resist. The butterflies that feed on the nectar of GMO crops, DIE. It has been shown that GMO grains are adversely affecting the gut bacteria in humans and animal that consume it. And the deadly potential for cross species diseases is but a matter of time. This is why GMO at this level should be rigorously scientifically scrutinized, by scientists who hold no conflict of interest and have the health and safety of the public as their highest concern. But this is NOT what is happening. Instead the proponents of GM science want to manipulate at will, on all levels, with ALL organisms, and with NO OVERSIGHT, either governmental or scientific. THAT is what makes it wrong.

Anonymous

03/08/2014 - 12:47pm

there is NO SUCH THING AS A CANOLA! there NEVER HAS BEEN & NEVER WILL BE ANY THING CALLED A CANOLA! people don't ead & that's why they are ABOUT AS INTELLIGENT AS A STRUCK MATCH there's no organic canola oil either people need to read but sadly many highschool graduates ae incapable of reading

look closely ( Canadian Oil Low Acid ) if you take the first letter in each of those words you'll see a CANOLA PLANT otherwise you can't look at one learn to read people & then actually do it!

Anonymous

02/01/2014 - 4:56am

"Canola Seed"? There is no such thing. This is man-made crap, and we should not be eating it. And Whole Foods should not be selling it. Garbage.

Anonymous

01/28/2014 - 10:52am

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