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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

DID YOU NOTICE THAT "OLIVE OIL" WAS NOT MENTIONED EVEN ONCE, IN THE ABOVE COMMENTS?

FRAN G.

Anonymous

04/28/2015 - 10:06pm

I think it is interesting that people think that the produce section of any grocery store actually contains fruits that "have been used for centuries". Most of the fruits and grains that we eat today bear little or no resemblance to their ancestors. Have you ever eaten a seedless grape, orange or watermelon? Those fruits didn't exist 60 years ago let alone in centuries past. The "whole grains" you buy today look very different from those of 200 years ago (an instant in the life span of some grain species) due to generations of farmers who have cross-bred or selected plants based on their ability to produce plentiful seed or for specific qualities in the grains.
To the people commenting on this blog post - do you know a farmer? Do you know someone whose livelihood depends on the land, plants and animals that they care for? Do you know where food actually comes from besides a store or an urban farmers' market? Meet a farmer - get to know them. They are people and they have families they want to keep safe and healthy. They are passionate about supplying the world with safe, healthy food. If they don't keep this social promise to society, their income depends on it (oh, that income is also at the mercy of weather and disease infestations that they have no control over - what if your income decreased or increased with every rain or cool day??). Science is great if you understand it, but getting to know an actual farmer might give you more insight into our food supply than any other source. There are many exceptional blogs written by farmers and their family members where they share their passion for their calling.

Anonymous

04/24/2015 - 3:20pm

I suppose whole grains are good for you too ? Good for all the people that are making $$$$ from the diabetes epidemic.

Anonymous

04/21/2015 - 6:49pm

I love seeing the comments below articles like this... it is so interesting to see everybody's perspective and opinion :). Genetically modified organisms are (in my own personal opinion, based on background in biology and genetic research) in most cases perfectly healthy for human consumption. Yes, it is extremely important to always be carefull in scientific advancement that our society does not create a "frankenstein's monster" especially in the case of the Bt vector, but for thousands and thousands of years humans have used their God-given intelligence to create amazing things and make new discoveries. Among these genetically modified foods are kiwi, broccoli, grapefruit, kale and thousands of other healthy foods touted by many health food websites as delicious and "natural" sources of vitamins, fiber, etc. I think that while eating healthy natural foods is a MUST for many, many reasons, the anti-GMO bandwagon seems to be a little bit... rabid and based more on rumor and fear than fact. I have an aunt who is very into eating natural foods, which is great for her and I respect her choice to try and ensure her and her kids' health, but she doesn't believe in microwaves because she is afraid of the nuclear radiation... actually microwaves cook with electromagnetic waves not uranium, the same harmless waves that you are exposed to all the time. Besides, why are we all arguing about whether to cook with coconut oil or canola when millions of people have far worse problems in the world that we could eradicate if we just worked together?

Anonymous

04/16/2015 - 1:22am

I think that they tell us it is good for us just to make us spend our money and they get rich. Natural is best. Processed food is so bad and all the additives like salt and sugar. Just look at all the fat and unwell people around, then they rush to the doctor to get him to fix them and they get more poison, pills.

Carolyn

Anonymous

03/28/2015 - 5:54am

I love to use canola oil as a pesticide in the garden. It (rape oil) was a key ingredient in mustard gas in World War I. If you want to eat that, go for it and good luck.

Anonymous

03/26/2015 - 2:37pm

Since this site is owned by a large corporation, they will steer you to eating things that are less than healthy for you. GMO and GE foods are pure pesticides - geared to keep you sick. Science has proven this with their lab tests. If you care about your health, grow your own food or choose local organic (or non-pesticide sprayed) foods where you know the farmer. If you don't care - eat whatever the hell you want, since it won't matter anyway. Do your own research - but I opt for organic and nature produced foods that have not been altered by a mega corporation in it for the money and control of your food source.

Anonymous

03/19/2015 - 2:47pm

Canola was not created as a GMO, it was developed by careful selection and breeding, the way farm plants always have been improved. Trans fats are poison. Canola is not, it has no trans fats unless it is processed to create trans fats. Today processors (mostly) do not do that, and labels must state the amount of trans fat. You want to see 0%.

The ones who get sick from canola may be allergic to it, or, they may have eaten rancid oil. I have read that canola goes rancid easily, but I have seen no scientific study of that.

The use of GMOs may cause social or ecological problems that we cannot foresee. But to claim it is unhealthy to eat them is quite unscientific; there is no evidence of that. There is every reason to expect them to be just as healthy as the domesticated farmed hybridized foods that we have eaten for thousands of years.

Anonymous

03/16/2015 - 1:15am

Absolute junk. This site should be embarrassed promoting crapola oil.

Anonymous

03/15/2015 - 1:45pm

As some posters have suggested which I personally believe is to use what nature has already provided us. Our bodies will be more in synchronicity when we eat the naturally supplied oils or foods which has a more beneficial intent to keep us healthy.

Anonymous

03/14/2015 - 4:49pm

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