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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Everyone here needs to understand the vital difference between GMO (genetically modified organism) and GE (genetically engineered). We humans have eaten genetically modified vegetable and fruit for thousands of years, When we selectively breed for desirable characteristics, we are genetically modifying that plant. Bees and other pollinators do it all the time, and there is nothing wrong with it. Genetic ENGINEERING, however, is VERY different: crosses and gene-splices are made that nature would not allow. Witness fish genes in tomatoes, and plants that survive heavy sprays of Roundup herbicide, and plants that contain Bt, a naturally-occurring pesticide that plants could not make by themselves.
The term GMO has been adopted as a slogan because it it catchy: "Say no to GMO." It is dangerously inaccurate, because it plays into the hands of Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, etc. who WANT us to be confused and misled.
Without genetic modification, we wouldn't have broccoli, or Labrador retrievers, and tomatoes and lettuce would be inedible. Do your homework, folks, and please please please let's get it right!


01/06/2013 - 8:09pm

I like lard. Lots of it baby! If you're going to drive off the cliff, press the pedal to the floor I say! Vroooom!


01/06/2013 - 7:57pm

yes canola oil is amazing much better than olive oil compared to fat and omega 6 & 3 ratio


01/02/2013 - 3:03am

On 12/16/12 I eliminated ALL Canola Oil from my diet, and my health is recouping day by day. I will healthy, delicious fat spread at the end.
I read that it takes 10 years for outward symptoms to manifest, and that is correct in my case. I began buying Canola Oil at my trusted natural grocer by a healthy oil brand. The only ill affect I recall in retrospect, was notable lower jaw and mouth tension.
In 2010 a myriad of symptoms began which constitute a syndrome. I developed food intolerances/allergies to wheat, grains, sugar, and chocolate. I had episodes of inflammation and sickness that sent me to bed for 2-3 days. Sores erupted on my tongue, and my hair fell out excessively. I had heart arrhythmias. I had fatigue, neck pain, and small blood vessels that popped out on my abdomen. My abdomen ached if I consumed carbohydrates. I experienced sudden urinary weakness/leakage, and “IBS”. I became chemically sensitive to ammonia, peroxide with resulting sickness.
I changed my diet to vegetable-meat based and eschewed all forms of sugar, and prepared most of my food at home. In the second year, I was still consuming Canola oil in a spread, in gluten-free bread, and in foods occasionally eaten outside home. My health continued to decline: continuing episodes of inflammation and sickness, sickness to corn, worsening pain in neck, flutters, pounding and clicks in one ear, loss of hearing in same ear, and extreme TMJ syndrome with acute pressure in temples, cranium and sinuses. Each morning I awoke feeling like I'd been in a war, swelling under my eyes, incapacitating temple, frontal, and sinus pressure, and broken sinus blood vessels.
On 12/15/12 I ate potatoes cooked in canola oil, and I was sickened and bed-ridden for 3 days. I began researching canola oil then, and decided that it is the canola oil that was destroying me from the inside out. I knew something from outside me was hurting me, because I’ve always been healthy and had a very health-conscious diet and lifestyle. Not consuming CanolaOil means the return of my health and life. The first days after ceasing canola oil, my nasal capillaries stopped breaking-bleeding. My sinus and temple pressure abated. Swelling under my eyes is almost gone. I have less jaw pressure. Now I wake up feeling tranquil and rested, not war-torn. I still have food sensitivies which I must observe or I will experience fatigue. I’ve had no further episodes of sickness and inflammation. The flutter and pounding in my ear nearly gone, I only hear some ticking now and then. It will take time to reverse the damage done to me by canola oil. In the meantime, I will spread the word.
Not eating canola means not eating out and eating almost nothing processed. Fortunately I live in Portland Oregon, where there is non-gluten, non-canola bread made locally, as well as eateries I have yet to try. Ending Canola means talking to people about its dangers, and writing food manufacturers and restaurants.
Now here is that recipe for a delicious spread:
1 stick butter, room temp (pasture-raised preferably)
4 Tbs olive oil (cold pressed)
Place the butter in a food processor. Begin to process and drizzle in the olive oil. Blend until creamy.


12/26/2012 - 5:02pm

The above discussion is a putff piece in my opinion. The best article I have read on canola oil is the article "Canola Oil: Is it Healthy?" in Well Being Journal, v. 21, no. 6 Nov./Dec. issue by Bruce Fife, N.D. He is not a fan but he may be somewhat biased since he has also written several books promoting coconut oil. However, his arguments are scienc base and seem sound to me. He discusses both the euricic acid issue and the animal studies that suggests detrimental health effects.
As I understand it, the initial development of the rapeseed plant in Canada so that the oil is low in euricic acid was accmplished using traditional plant breeding techniques. While one could argue this is a form of genetic engineering (GE) but I don't find this aspect of canola oil objectionable in theory. Humans have been selectively breed plants for centuries and this process affects most food plants.. Since then the low euricic acid rapeseed plant has been genetically modiified to incorporate genes that confer resistance to glysophate (the herbicide Roundup from Monsanto). Unless it is labeled organic, almost all canola oil in the USA is GMO and grown using Roundup to control weeds. Glysophate degrades only very slowly and eventually has to end up as a contaminant in canola oil. Based on what I have read, no one should eat any food containing glysophate residues. It causes numerous deleterious health effects including birth defects, genetic damage, and cancer. I would recommend going to and doing a search on Roundup or glysophate for anyone interested. Dr. Butz at Purdue University relates stillbirths and miscarriages in domestic livestock to GMO animal feed (most soy and corn feed to animals is also GMO), So here are my questions with regard to GMO canola, soy, corn, and safflower: 1) does euricic acid have deleterious health effects even at low levels, and 2) are the deleterious health effects seen in the animal studies with canola oil, due to a) the canola oil, b) the glysophate contaminants, 3) novel antigen proteins or components the plant could be producing as a consequence of the insertion of a foreign gene is inserted into its DNA, or 4) the degradation products that develop as a consequence the extensive high heat and chemical processing of commercial canola oil? I am not aware on any studies that isolate and answer these questions. Anyway, my decision is to not use canola oil, even organic, so I make my own salad dressings. If you do decide to use canola oil, the only healthful way to go is cold, expeller pressed organic.


12/10/2012 - 11:01pm

I personally don't agree that we should lend ourselves unknowingly, until the science is in! We know that GMOs are NOT YET proven to be safe, so until then I choose to not be used as an experiment!



12/10/2012 - 10:34pm

Canola is named from Canadian Oil and doe not come from Canola Seeds.
It is Rapeseed Oil from Rapeseed modified and super heated.
In Canada it is used for lubrication for machines.
Using Canola Oil? Paint the rust spots on your vehicle with it.
Not appropriate for human consumption.


12/10/2012 - 1:32pm

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.


11/29/2012 - 12:01am

hempseed oil is the choice for healthy nutritional diets.


11/16/2012 - 11:25pm

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.


11/13/2012 - 8:06pm

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