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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

Why would you want to use genetically engineered oil and not a non-engineered oil?
Use peanut, olive, vegetable. Don’t trust the FDA and Canada which funded the money for the approval.

Anonymous

11/28/2012 - 11:01pm

hempseed oil is the choice for healthy nutritional diets.

Anonymous

11/16/2012 - 10:25pm

What about the study where they fed pigs canola oil in their diet, and their blood platelets stuck and congested, and other ill effects took hold.

Anonymous

11/13/2012 - 7:06pm

10 Reasons to Avoid GMOs

1. GMOs are unhealthy.
The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) urges doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets for all patients. They cite animal studies showing organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune system disorders, accelerated aging, and infertility. Human studies show how genetically modified (GM) food can leave material behind inside us, possibly causing long-term problems. Genes inserted into GM soy, for example, can transfer into the DNA of bacteria living inside us, and that the toxic insecticide produced by GM corn was found in the blood of pregnant women and their unborn fetuses.

Numerous health problems increased after GMOs were introduced in 1996. The percentage of Americans with three or more chronic illnesses jumped from 7% to 13% in just 9 years; food allergies skyrocketed, and disorders such as autism, reproductive disorders, digestive problems, and others are on the rise. Although there is not sufficient research to confirm that GMOs are a contributing factor, doctors groups such as the AAEM tell us not to wait before we start protecting ourselves, and especially our children who are most at risk.

The American Public Health Association and American Nurses Association are among many medical groups that condemn the use of GM bovine growth hormone, because the milk from treated cows has more of the hormone IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1)―which is linked to cancer.

2. GMOs contaminate―forever.
GMOs cross pollinate and their seeds can travel. It is impossible to fully clean up our contaminated gene pool. Self-propagating GMO pollution will outlast the effects of global warming and nuclear waste. The potential impact is huge, threatening the health of future generations. GMO contamination has also caused economic losses for organic and non-GMO farmers who often struggle to keep their crops pure.

3. GMOs increase herbicide use.
Most GM crops are engineered to be "herbicide tolerant"―they deadly weed killer. Monsanto, for example, sells Roundup Ready crops, designed to survive applications of their Roundup herbicide.

Between 1996 and 2008, US farmers sprayed an extra 383 million pounds of herbicide on GMOs. Overuse of Roundup results in "superweeds," resistant to the herbicide. This is causing farmers to use even more toxic herbicides every year. Not only does this create environmental harm, GM foods contain higher residues of toxic herbicides. Roundup, for example, is linked with sterility, hormone disruption, birth defects, and cancer.

4. Genetic engineering creates dangerous side effects.
By mixing genes from totally unrelated species, genetic engineering unleashes a host of unpredictable side effects. Moreover, irrespective of the type of genes that are inserted, the very process of creating a GM plant can result in massive collateral damage that produces new toxins, allergens, carcinogens, and nutritional deficiencies.

5. Government oversight is dangerously lax.
Most of the health and environmental risks of GMOs are ignored by governments' superficial regulations and safety assessments. The reason for this tragedy is largely political. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for example, doesn't require a single safety study, does not mandate labeling of GMOs, and allows companies to put their GM foods onto the market without even notifying the agency. Their justification was the claim that they had no information showing that GM foods were substantially different. But this was a lie. Secret agency memos made public by a lawsuit show that the overwhelming consensus even among the FDA's own scientists was that GMOs can create unpredictable, hard-to-detect side effects. They urged long-term safety studies. But the White House had instructed the FDA to promote biotechnology, and the agency official in charge of policy was Michael Taylor, Monsanto's former attorney, later their vice president. He's now the US Food Safety Czar.

6. The biotech industry uses "tobacco science" to claim product safety.
Biotech companies like Monsanto told us that Agent Orange, PCBs, and DDT were safe. They are now using the same type of superficial, rigged research to try and convince us that GMOs are safe. Independent scientists, however, have caught the spin-masters red-handed, demonstrating without doubt how industry-funded research is designed to avoid finding problems, and how adverse findings are distorted or denied.

7. Independent research and reporting is attacked and suppressed.
Scientists who discover problems with GMOs have been attacked, gagged, fired, threatened, and denied funding. The journal Nature acknowledged that a "large block of scientists . . . denigrate research by other legitimate scientists in a knee-jerk, partisan, emotional way that is not helpful in advancing knowledge." Attempts by media to expose problems are also often censored.

8. GMOs harm the environment.
GM crops and their associated herbicides can harm birds, insects, amphibians, marine ecosystems, and soil organisms. They reduce bio-diversity, pollute water resources, and are unsustainable. For example, GM crops are eliminating habitat for monarch butterflies, whose populations are down 50% in the US. Roundup herbicide has been shown to cause birth defects in amphibians, embryonic deaths and endocrine disruptions, and organ damage in animals even at very low doses. GM canola has been found growing wild in North Dakota and California, threatening to pass on its herbicide tolerant genes on to weeds.

9. GMOs do not increase yields, and work against feeding a hungry world.
Whereas sustainable non-GMO agricultural methods used in developing countries have conclusively resulted in yield increases of 79% and higher, GMOs do not, on average, increase yields at all. This was evident in the Union of Concerned Scientists' 2009 report Failure to Yield―the definitive study to date on GM crops and yield.

The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) report, authored by more than 400 scientists and backed by 58 governments, stated that GM crop yields were "highly variable" and in some cases, "yields declined." The report noted, "Assessment of the technology lags behind its development, information is anecdotal and contradictory, and uncertainty about possible benefits and damage is unavoidable." They determined that the current GMOs have nothing to offer the goals of reducing hunger and poverty, improving nutrition, health and rural livelihoods, and facilitating social and environmental sustainability.
On the contrary, GMOs divert money and resources that would otherwise be spent on more safe, reliable, and appropriate technologies.

10. By avoiding GMOs, you contribute to the coming tipping point of consumer rejection, forcing them out of our food supply.
Because GMOs give no consumer benefits, if even a small percentage of us start rejecting brands that contain them, GM ingredients will become a marketing liability. Food companies will kick them out. In Europe, for example, the tipping point was achieved in 1999, just after a high profile GMO safety scandal hit the papers and alerted citizens to the potential dangers. In the US, a consumer rebellion against GM bovine growth hormone has also reached a tipping point, kicked the cow drug out of dairy products by Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Dannon, Yoplait, and most of America's dairies.

The Campaign for Healthier Eating in America is designed to achieve a tipping point against GMOs in the US. The number of non-GMO shoppers needed is probably just 5% of the population. The key is to educate consumers about the documented health dangers and provide a Non-GMO Shopping Guide to make avoiding GMOs much easier.

Anonymous

11/12/2012 - 2:25pm

RE: the GMO's please post;

Fresh grown tomatoes from the vine with no pesticides taste like Tomatoes........the tomatoes sold in the large grocery store chains taste like cardboard! Fresh cucumbers, my first was a few weeks ago.......OMG I fell in love. Tomatoes last on the shelf at least a week, and in the refrigerator longer.........How do I know, because I tested it this season. The large companies that produce our food now have taken the flavor out of the food to focus on the all mighty $. I'm not against the almighty "$" but, if it hinders my health and my enjoyment of the product ........well, let's think of another option. I say "no" to GMO's until they can prove to me they are safe.......and they actually taste good. I avoid anything with corn and soy at this time as well.......I have purchased non GMO canola. I am trying to educate myself on canola oil. Which is what led me to this site.

Anonymous

11/12/2012 - 12:21pm

Please tell me what the FDA has to say about Canola oil in butter to make it spreadable?

drogerg9@cox.net

Anonymous

11/09/2012 - 5:35pm

What about the petroleum solvents and other chemicals used to extract this 'healthy and natural' food?
How about the deodoringing, colouring, hydrogenating? You might as well melt the container and spread that. The difference is minimal.

Anonymous

11/08/2012 - 10:24pm

Coconut oil does NOT clog arteries! It is impossible for coconut oil to clog arteries! It becomes liquid at 76 degrees F.; and since the normal healthy body temperature is 98.6 degrees F., the oil remains liquid in the body and cannot congeal or become solid - which it would have to do to be able to clog arteries. It has no cholesterol, it is not carcinogenic, and does not break down under high temperatures. It also does not require refrigeration and has a shelf life of three years at room temperature. Under those circumstances, it does not become rancid. However, this only applies to unrefined, raw, organic coconut oil. It is also excellent as a body and hair oil. You can go to amazon.com to find literature that will inform you of the benefits of coconut oil, or sunfood.com, which sells it and has literature and information about it as well. Corn oil, canola, and "vegetable" oils are the worse. It seems that the Italian Consumer Association DOESN'T know everything about oils, believe me.

Anonymous

11/06/2012 - 10:50pm

Not one of these sad, ignorant conspiracy theory people in here have posted one SOUND study against canola oil. Not one, so I find it irritating that people convince themselves something is bad for them when there is no evidence of it. Don't want to eat it? Don't, stop trying to scare people when you have nothing to back up your ridiuclous claims.

Anonymous

11/04/2012 - 10:48am

I think too many people have too many opinions based on bad research!

Anonymous

10/27/2012 - 7:14pm

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