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.)

Download a Free Mediterranean Diet Cookbook!


First, it is easy to say all sorts of falsehoods when you are signing "anonymous"! Second, nature modifies at a much slower rate than biochemists, therefore humans are not generally harmed by the removal/addition of genes in plants.
Kristi Case, LPN


10/24/2012 - 3:27pm

Canola oil is not regulated by the FDA because the rapeseed plant from which it was derived is not considered a "food". The processing is highly questionable and when it is banned from infant formulas that should tell you something! It was first made in Canada and thus the name "Can" "oil" = Canola.
It's cheap to produce and requires no Federal regulation which should tell us why the industry says its so "wonderful" for us.


10/10/2012 - 4:53pm

Well, why not just stop eating altogether! Let's all become anorexic and die by the way you slam it all. It makes a person afraid to leave their homes.


09/27/2012 - 4:34pm

"Genetically modifying a plant and then consuming that plant causes genetic modification in those eating it" Are you serious?! Everything on the planet genetically modifies it's self over years. Always adapting to soil, climate and pests. How is it the average person's height has grown and average life-span has increased 10-20 years, in the past 100 years? It's better nutrition. (and a few chemicals called medicine) You can add Canola to better nutrition. There's no science behind banning GMO's. It's bad press and herd-mentality.


09/24/2012 - 10:14pm

Wow, very sad & surprising for Eating Well! It kind of makes me doubt any confidence I had in them!


09/21/2012 - 5:37pm

Wow, the first comment here is so full of wrong information it's amazing.

First off, pure unprocessed coconut oil is hands-down the healthiest oil on the planet to use for cooking. Research backs this up.

Second, extra virgin olive oil degrades at high temperatures. Cook with non-virgin olive oil and save that stuff for the salads.

Corn oil is good for throwing in the garbage and never buying again, unless you're into genetically modified food that has since been linked to reproductive harm and tumors in lab rats. Same goes for canola.

Genetically modifying a plant and then consuming that plant causes genetic modification in those eating it. It's not safe in any amount. It's such a simple connection to make and yet it's been propagandized away by millions of dollars from Monsanto.

Coconut, palm, avocado, macadamia, olive. Those are the healthiest oils to eat. Do your own research and you will find this to be the truth.


09/20/2012 - 10:29pm

Do yourself a favour: DON'T use canola oil nor palm, coconut or - especially!! - palm KERNEL oil for frying or cooking or seasoning. They are rich in saturated and trans fats which will clog your arteriae in a wink of an eye. Don't believe the claptrap food companies feed you. Those oils are very cheap, that's why the mongers use them. That's the only reason. When they use a quality oil they usually boast it on the front of package. When they use the cheap stuff, they hide it in small print as 'vegetable oil'. Not for nothing.

The best oils for frying are peanut, corn and - above all - virgin olive oil (if you can cope with the taste it gives to the fried stuff). They are rich in unsaturated fats and resist high temperatures for longer time without decaying into carcinogen liquids.

The above information was provided by the reputed and largest Italian consumer association, Altroconsumo, based on the latest findings of science about frying technologies, medicine and dieting. And Italians know everything about vegetable oils, believe me.


09/14/2012 - 6:34pm

From all I have read and research done on this oil it is one to avoid especially for people with Diabetes as it is highly processed and when we use this oil we are not doing our bodies any good with all the toxins from chemicals etc. that interact in our bodies none for the good!
I f you need oil for high heat use Peanut Oil is a good choice and use Olive Oil in recipes that don't call for high heat cooking.


09/08/2012 - 1:11am

My family's farm grows a NON-GMO strand of Canola here in Michigan. We cold press it and sell it. There is no high heat refining process, a process that causes the heart healthy mono/polyunsaturated fats to become trans fats. As far I I know, all of the canola you see on the shelves of your grocery stores is refined in some way, thus destroying the heath benefits associated with canola. Canola, cold-pressed, non GMO (very rare), is loaded with heart-healthy fatty acids, and great to cook with.

I have no agenda here other than helping educate on the subject. I am not linking to our farm's oil, I just want people to be informed about what they are eating.

All the bad things you hear about canola, if true, are related to using the store-bought, refined, GMO strands. Be smart about HOW things are grown and processed, and WHERE they come from. I urge you to do your own research as much as possible. Talk to farmers and buy local.


09/06/2012 - 3:26pm

I am sure Monsanto has a hand in all of these sort of articles...Sometimes it is not how it is grown but how it is processed that makes the product not good for us...And what I have read the process for canola oil is what makes it unhealthy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


09/03/2012 - 10:22pm

Get a full year of EatingWell magazine.
World Wide Web Health Award Winner Web Award Winner World Wide Web Health Award Winner Interactive Media Award Winner