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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

virgin olive has a lot of fraudulent brands. brands that have been colored, mixed with other cheaper oils or even rancid but labeled as virgin. some of the oils maybe are not handled properly in less than sanitary conditions like the presses not being cleaned properly so that old oils are still left on for the next pressings.

I only trust brands from countries that haven't been traditionally thought as olive oil producing countries so they dont have the same cachet but their techniques are modern and they have studied the process and improved upon it.

i am not sure how using organic canola oil gets around the gmo factor. i am not too concerned about canola at least the origins and manufacture is upfront.

Anonymous

10/10/2010 - 11:00pm

Why not use other oils that match the qualities of Canola but aren't GMO? How does organic get around the GMO factor? I use Safflower oil when I need a lighter taste than EVOO.

Anonymous

10/12/2010 - 3:16pm

Canola oil causes my throat to swell shut! I had hives for 9-months before we were able to pinpoint what the cause was and it was only after I nearly had to be intubated that we were able to discover that my sister-in-law was cooking with only Canola. Sadly, it is in EVERYTHING from nondairy creamers to ice cream to lip balm to sore throat lozenges to salad dressings to just about every food out there. Another very sad fact for anyone with an allergy is when you go out to eat and ask what kind of oil they use, they are so uneducated about allergic-reactions that they either tell you the brand or simply say "vegetable."

Being one that is allergic to an oil (of all things) makes me wonder what that genetic history really entails!

Anonymous

10/12/2010 - 3:23pm

As I live in England this oil is none too available, thus I use rapepseed oil to good effect.

I do try out a large proportion of the reciepies on this site , and am more than satisfied with their outcome.

I do however make the odd " modification " to suit the non availability of items listed in the main recipe.

May I say that over all I find you hints/techniques etc. to be most assistive in developing my cooking skills and understanding of how to buy/ prepair / cook and present food to my supper table.

Please carry on and help develop the skills of a senior chap like myself.

Very best regards to you all, and to those people who provide helpfull comments & hints.

Bill.

Anonymous

10/12/2010 - 3:53pm

GMO, please.

Don't eat tomatos, beef, pork, lettuce, potatoes, lamb, etc. If it isn't organic then it probably has been Genetically improved.

Oh how I long for the days when all the tomatos rotted and had a shelf life of one day. Tobacco moaic disease destroyed entire crops. People lived to the ripe old age of 60. Them sure were good times. How dare science try to improve the food chain.

Please.

Anonymous

10/12/2010 - 4:59pm

My husband and I have been using canola oil since 1993. That was the year my father had open heart surgery. The hospital nutritional dietition for heart patients recommended it. My father lived to be 89 years old, and I think that's because a car accident shortened his life even more so. I use it in everything!

Anonymous

10/12/2010 - 5:08pm

I believe olive oil has a much lower smoke point than canola oil, so if you're heating oil at a high temp, olive oil is not the best one to use.

Anonymous

10/12/2010 - 6:17pm

Canola is one of the worst oils to use in one's kitchen. Besides being GMO, it transforms into trans fat acids at relatively low temps, and is made from rancid, chemically drenched procedures. Eatingwell is bought & paid for by the large agri-businesses, as exampled by the running of ads for Splenda and the like. Anyone who listens to their drivel about "real" health is shortening their life span. Today I unsubscribe from their pollution.

Anonymous

10/12/2010 - 11:11pm

Rapeseed also produces the poison called risin as well as the oil called Canola. In our research, we found that there is no canola seed as such, only gmo rapeseed from which canola oil is produced. The websites stated that the name "canola oil" came from the Canadian town nearest to the production site of the first batch of oil made. Where this person, Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D. get the information given in the article?
The term "organic" simply means that no pesticides were utilized in the growth of the crop by being place within so many feet of the leaves or roots. I has nothing to do with the GMO process in any way. It is totally irrelevant. We've been lied by advertisers and government agencies and food companies who all think they can satisfy us with red herring answers because we tend to take what we're told as fact. Wake up and smell the sewage people. Do your research, ask questions, read, read, read!

Anonymous

10/13/2010 - 1:41am

There is room in a healthy cooks kitchen for both Canola and Virgin Olive Oil. Plus the cost factor is different. I do a lot of baking for charity events in our small town and find canola oil to be preferable. I understand a lot of the concerns people have raised about GMO, organic etc. however get on with it, life is not perfect, do the best you can, cook and EAT ( by the way I am healthy not overweight, excercise lots and work full time). Happy Nana

Anonymous

10/13/2010 - 8:04am

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