Canola Oil--Unhealthy Food For Thought?

Not the most exciting topic, but many people have mentioned using canola oil. Figured it might be good to post this. Had this in my files & can’t find the source(s) now where I copied it from, sorry, but I did research it.

"The Canola Council of Canada has published a report that focuses heavily on the high polyunsaturated fatty acid content of canola oil and the presumed benefits of polyunsaturated oils on various blood parameters (platelet phospholipids, platelet aggregation, eicosanoid production, clotting time). In spite of the many scientific references listed at the end of the report, the author studiously avoids discussion of the toxic effects mentioned by many nutritionists and biochemists, and, instead, attempts to link many of the benefits of Mediterranean-type diets high in olive oil to diets high in canola oil, when in fact, no such evidence is presented, and canola oil has never been part of a traditional Mediterranean diet.

Concerns about the risks of using canola (rapeseed) oil focus on several aspects:

The presence of long-chain fatty acids, including erucic acid, which are thought by some to cause CNS degeneration, heart disease, and cancer;
The high temperatures needed in the refining process to make canola oil palatable, which lead to formation of trans-fatty acids;
Miscellaneous undesirable chemical constituents (thioglycosides and thiocyanates) whose effects are unclear, as their concentration in the refined product is probably very low.

Although Chinese and Indian peoples have long used rapeseed oil in cooking, it was not refined and processed to the extent of modern commercial methods, and it was never considered to be a high quality oil for human consumption. Ayurvedic physicians have for thousands of years classified olive, almond, and sesame as the best oils for human health, and have considered safflower, soybean and rapeseed oils to be undesirable for human consumption except perhaps when no other oil sources were available.

Recent epidemiological studies of high lung cancer rates in Chinese women suggest that wok cooking with rapeseed oil is responsible, rather than tobacco smoking, which was only a weak factor. Chinese rapeseed oil tended to produce the highest emissions of the potentially carcinogenic or mutagenic compounds 1,3-butadiene, benzene, acrolein, and formaldehyde, when compared with soybean oil and peanut oil.

Canola oil contains a long-chain fatty acid called erucic acid, which is especially irritating to mucous membranes; canola oil consumption has been correlated with development of fibrotic lesions of the heart, CNS degenerative disorders, lung cancer, and prostate cancer, anemia, and constipation. [3a, 3b] Canola oil derives from the plants Brassica campestris and B. napus, which have been selectively bred to substantially reduce the erucic acid content. However, some health professionals feel that there is still too much present in current canola oil products for safe use. Some critics of canola oil focus on the fact that rapeseed oil was originally used as an industrial lubricant and known to be unfit for human consumption, although many vegetable oils have been used in industrial applications as well as in foods.

The long-chain fatty acids found in canola have been found to destroy the sphingomyelin surrounding nerve cells in the brain, in some cases leading to a degenerative brain condition remarkably similar to mad-cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy); in advanced cases the brain tissue develops a Swiss-cheese-like appearance, full of holes. Illnesses and conditions that have been associated with canola oil consumption include loss of vision (retinal capillaries are very sensitive and easily damaged), and a wide range of neurological disorders. [3a]

The high temperatures used in canola refining will damage many of the essential fatty acids, which are much more susceptible to damage by heat than saturated fats. (Heat may convert many of the unsaturated double bonds to the “trans” configuration.) While high-quality essential fatty acids are required for human health, in their damaged or rancid forms they become harmful.

Additional problems with canola oil include the presence of minute, but potentially dangerous, amounts of thioglycosides, which have thyrotoxic effects. [3m] To reduce the concentration of these compounds requires processing with alkalinizing agents plus high temperatures; unfortunately, the high temperatures used in processing have other undesirable effects, the most serious of which is the conversion of unsaturated fats to the trans form.

Rapeseed has been selectively bred and genetically engineered [3a] in an attempt to reduce the toxic components and processing methods were developed to further reduce the concentration of undesirable compounds. Prior to its entry into the “health” food market, it was known as rapeseed oil, but savvy marketing professionals knew that the health food market, heavily dominated by young, college-educated women, would not purchase a repulsive-sounding product called rapeseed oil. The name of the selectively bred variety was changed to canola (as in “Canadian oil”; it has been heavily promoted by Canadian government and agricultural organizations) oil; the name rolls off the tongue with a mellifluous sound.


The biochemistry of plants and natural food products is often complex; the total effect of a given food on human health is dependent upon many chemical constituents and their interaction with biochemical pathways of the body. To radically alter our diets based on scientific evidence regarding only a few aspects of this biochemistry is like cooking in the dark.

Common symptom reactions to unhealthy oils and fats, or to an unhealthy balance of the types of fats in one’s diet include joint pain and aggravation of arthritic conditions, a general tendency to have increased tissue irritability and inflammation, and, in the case of unhealthy fats such as hydrogenated oils and excessive amounts of fried foods, abdominal fullness and indigestion. While these conditions also may be due to other factors, quality of fats and oils is important. How one feels immediately to within several days after eating specific types of fat is often a useful indicator of whether one’s fat consumption is healthy or unhealthy.

Avoid canola oil; there is too much doubt about its safety. Recommended oils and fats, which are essential nutrients, include moderate amounts of meat in the form of clean sources (organically grown, etc.) of beef, lamb, and other red meats, poultry, fish (especially sardines and mackerel), plus olive, almond, or sesame oil; of all the vegetable oils, olive oil is probably the safest and best for health reasons. All of these have been in traditional use in various cultures for thousands of years. Individual differences in metabolism will dictate needs for more or less of these types of oils and fats.

Rapeseed has been around for thousands of years, primarily cultivated in Asia and Europe. But rapeseed oil is loaded with erucic acid, which has been shown to cause lesions of the heart - not a good side effect. So a little genetic manipulation by some plant breeders in Canada created a variety of rapeseed that produced an oil low in erucic acid. They called it LEAR oil, an acronym for Low Erucic Acid Rapeseed.

Meanwhile, the US food industry in the mid-1980s was looking for a new, inexpensive oil to increase production of processed foods. At the time, monosaturated oils, such as olive oil, were being touted as the healthy alternative to saturated and polyunsaturated oils. But olive oil couldnt be produced in the quantities needed for mass production, so LEAR oil was settled on as the practical choice. But it needed a new, more commercial name. They settled on canola - for Canadian oil. And the marketing push was on.

In previous e-alerts I have told you about the importance of omega-3 fatty acids and their benefits to both the immune system and the cardiovascular system. Canola oil contains approximately 10 percent omega-3, giving it an obvious appeal to consumers who, by the mid-80s, were pursuing healthy diets as never before. A marketing strategy was developed to sell the nutritional benefits of canola alongside olive oil and the Mediterranean diet, already branded in the public consciousness as the gold standard of healthy diets.

And the strategy worked. By the mid-90s, canola was considered the healthy choice for cooking and processing. But was it really as healthy as nearly everyone in the food industry establishment claimed?

The zero factor
Canola oil is not a poisonous industrial oil, it doesnt cause mad cow disease, and it doesnt contain chemical warfare mustard gas. These are just three of the most extreme and completely unfounded claims about the horrors of canola.

But canola is not perfect. So far, no studies have been conducted to test the effect of canola oil on humans. But quite a few animal tests have been conducted, and the results are not promising. For instance, there are indications that canola is not healthy for the cardiovascular system, having caused lesions of the heart and vitamin E deficiency in rats. And ironically, one of the primary virtues that makes canola so appealing - the omega-3 fatty acid content - may in fact be the source of a primary problem.

Omega-3 fatty acids become rancid during the heat-intensive processing of canola oil, creating an unpleasant odour (in my mind, the smell is less of a concern than the rancidity, but I digress). The deodorisation process turns a large amount of canolas omega-3 into trans fatty acids.

The Canadian government says the trans content of canola is 0.2 percent, but a University of Florida (US) study in the found trans contents as high as 4.6 percent. This problem is even greater in processed foods where the hydrogenation process sends the trans fat content soaring to as much as 40 percent.

Weve all heard the increasing debate over the dangers of trans fatty acids. A US panel of the National Academy of Sciences submitted a report on their attempt to set a safe intake level for trans fat. The panel reported that trans fat intake creates a serious risk of heart disease, just as saturated fat does. The report concluded with a recommendation that has no grey areas: the only safe intake of trans fatty acids is zero.

Doctor, doctor…
Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, Ph.D., the authors of the con-ola article, provide an exhaustive and comprehensive look at all the issues surrounding canola oil. But they stop short at making recommendations as to how much canola oil is too much, or if we should be avoiding it at all costs. When I put this question to Dr. Spreen, this was his response:

I dont trust canola at all, for just the reason that there havent been anywhere near enough long-term observations. However, the chemical manipulations involved and the fact that its all being done due to being cheap stuff scares me. Id say intake should be kept to a minimum (you cant avoid it completely…it really is everywhere).

So whats the alternative? What oil should we be cooking with? Olive Oil?

Extra virgin olive oils wonderful, but it does have a unique taste. Im for real butter, palm kernel oil, coconut oil or even lard first, but the negative PR on saturated fat has pretty much killed the use of the last three. Fresh flax oil would be my next choice. (And did you know that the director of the Framingham heart study stated the exact opposite of what weve been told was the result of that study, specifically that the more saturated fat used, the better heart health people seemed to have?)

For now, it would seem that the search will have to go on for a magic oil that we can use for processing and cooking with no adverse side effects. There have been polyunsaturated pretenders, there have been monosaturated contenders, but so far there is no king."

Have you tried coconut oil? It’s a very healthy oil & can withstand high temps without harm.

I’ve never tried coconut oil - does it give it a coconut taste?

I wish I could use coconut oil–allergic to coconut (and thakfully -kinda-soy)

right now when I don’t use butter I use a blend of canola and olive…maybe back to crisco…

Very, very slight coconut taste, not overpowering at all. With other flavors, you won’t notice it at all. I use it for baking, too.

if someone has a nut allergy will they be allergic to coconut? Trying not to kill my better half :slight_smile:

I’m thinking of purchasing coconut oil.

Dear Gerri.

Well this is really food for thought. The statement that the Director of the Farmingham study said the more saturated fat the better for the heart goes against everything I ever heard on the topic. Dr. Dean Ornish would be appalled. The high incidence of heart disease in Hungary and Scotland was attributed to saturated fat.

The erucic acid content of rapeseed was greatly reduced by the researchers in Canada. This was a problem with rapeseed that is apparently solved by canola.

I had no idea which was better so I have been using 1/2 olive 1/2 canola. Shame that there is doubt about the canola has a better omega 3 to omega 6 ratio.

My father who had severe artherosclerosis was told to eat a lot of corn oil in the 60s and 70s now that is deemed not to be so good. However his condition improved dramatically.

Olive oil quality here is very uncertain.

Look at blog by Amy Campbell in Diabetes self management.

I dont know about this any more so I am eating cheese and the hell with the cholesterol.

That’s a good question. I wouldn’t chance it because coconut is definitely a tree nut. Need to keep our significant others around:)

Grapeseed is supposed to be really good. I’ll check about high heat & grapeseed. Stir frying isn’t near as high a heat as deep fat frying & most of the oil research I found talked about super high heat. Also has to do with how long the oil is exposed to high heat & of course stir fries are quick. Will let you know.

I buy olive oil by the half gallon:) The darker green the color, the better. Use it for most everything, Olive oil topically is an awesome skin & scalp moisturizer, too.

I heard grapeseed was great as well, but grapes give me anaphylaxis :frowning:

hmm, I may have to stick to olive oil then

Here’s some more on coconut oil:

Mary G. Enig, Ph.D - “Approximately 50% of the fatty acids in coconut fat are lauric acid. Lauric acid is a medium chain fatty acid, which has the additional beneficial function of being formed into monolaurin in the human or animal body. The antiviral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal properties of lauric acid and monolaurin have been recognized by a small number of researchers for nearly four decades: this knowledge has resulted in more than 20 research papers and several U.S. patents, and this past year it resulted in a comprehensive book chapter, which reviewed the important aspects of lauric oils as antimicrobial agents (Enig 1998). Monolaurin is the antiviral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal monoglyceride used by the human or animal to destroy lipid-coated viruses such as HIV, herpes, cytomegalovirus, influenza, various pathogenic bacteria, including listeria monocytogenes and helicobacter pylori, and protozoa such as giardia lamblia. Some studies have also shown some antimicrobial effects of the free lauric acid.” more

Recognition of the antiviral aspects of the antimicrobial activity of the monoglyceride of lauric acid (monolaurin) has been reported since 1966. Some of the early work by Hierholzer and Kabara (1982) that showed virucidal effects of monolaurin on enveloped RNA and DNA viruses was done in conjunction with the Center for Disease Control of the U.S. Public Health Service.

These studies were done with selected virus prototypes or recognized representative strains of enveloped human viruses. The envelope of these viruses is a lipid membrane, and the presence of a lipid membrane on viruses makes them especially vulnerable to lauric acid and its derivative monolaurin.

The medium-chain saturated fatty acids and their derivatives act by disrupting the lipid membranes of the viruses (Isaacs and Thormar 1991; Isaacs et al 1992). Research has shown that enveloped viruses are inactivated in both human and bovine milk by added fatty acids and monoglycerides (Isaacs et al 1991), and also by endogenous fatty acids and monoglycerides of the appropriate length (Isaacs et al 1986, 1990, 1991, 1992; Thormar et al 1987). Some of the viruses inactivated by these lipids are:

herpes simplex (HSV-1)
vesicular stomatitis virus
visna virus
cytomegalovirus (CMV)

Coconut Oil: A Healthy Choice For Weight Reduction One of the remarkable things about coconut oil is that it can help you lose weight. Yes, there is a dietary fat that can actually help you take off unwanted pounds. Coconut oil can quite literally be called a low-fat fat.
Raymond Peat, Ph.D. - “The anti-obesity effect of coconut oil is clear in all of the animal studies, and in my friends who eat it regularly.”

Mary G. Enig, Ph.D - “Coconut oil has a unique role in the diet as an important physiologically functional food. The health and nutritional benefits that can be derived from consuming coconut oil have been recognized in many parts of the world for centuries. A review of the diet/heart disease literature relevant to coconut oil clearly indicates that coconut oil is at worst neutral with respect to atherogenicity of fats and oils and, in fact, is likely to be a beneficial oil for prevention and treatment of some heart disease. Additionally, coconut oil provides a source of antimicrobial lipid for individuals with compromised immune systems and is a nonpromoting fat with respect to chemical carcinogenesis.”

Traditionally, polyunsaturated oils such as soybean oil have been used for livestock feed because they cause the animals to gain weight. These oils are made up of what is known as long chain fatty acids–the kind of fatty acids that promote weight gain. (4)

Coconut oil, on the other hand, is a saturated fat made up primarily of medium chain fatty acids. Also known as medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), medium chain fatty acids are known to increase metabolism and promote weight loss. Coconut oil can also raise basal body temperatures while increasing metabolism. This is good news for people who suffer with low thyroid function. There have been scores of testimonies to this effect.

“Coconut Oil Doesn’t Interfere with Thyroid Function (unlike soybean oil) The origins of the American obesity epidemic can be traced to the 1970’s when a concerted campaign against “harmful tropical oils” by the American Soybean Association led to the elimination of coconut oil in virtually all commercial cooking.” Bruce Fife - Coconut Oil Miracle Medicine and Diet Pill

One happy individual writes: "I am just now jumping on the coconut oil bandwagon (about three weeks now) and I’m really starting to feel GREAT! I have suffered from severe migraines for the past 25 years, the last 15 becoming increasingly severe, coinciding with the addition of soy and the” low-fat mentality” to my diet. Nothing helped! I should be experiencing my pre-menstrual migraine by now and instead I feel like I could climb Mt. Everest! Also I wondered if it decreased the waist to hip ratio because mine has gone from 7.2 all my life to 7 (or something like that). I think I had the sluggish thyroid too, with a low body temperature of between 96 and 96.8. Now it’s starting to climb for the first time in years. " V. Potter

Organic, Unrefined, Cold-Processed, Virgin Coconut Oil from the Philippines . Coconut oil is a prized oil that is versatile and delicious. This coconut oil is marvelous for cooking, eating alone, or even using on the skin. Its effects are legendary in several places, especially in the Pacific nations. Comes in sturdy, re-closable, 16 oz. Jar. (scroll to the bottom of the page for the coconut oil)

The Healing Miracles of Coconut Oil
by Bruce Fife, N.D.
If there was an oil you could use for your daily cooking needs that helped protect you from heart disease, cancer, and other degenerative conditions, improved your digestion, strengthened your immune system, and helped you lose excess weight, would you be interested?

No such oils exists you say? Not so! There is an oil that can do all this and more. No, it’s not olive oil, it’s not canola oil, or safflower oil or any of the oils commonly used for culinary purposes. It’s not flaxseed oil, evening primrose oil, or any of the oils sold as dietary supplements. It’s not rare or exotic. It’s ordinary coconut oil.

But wait, isn’t coconut oil a saturated fat? And isn’t saturated fat bad? because coconut oil is primarily a saturated oil, it has been blindly labeled as bad. It is lumped right along with beef fat and lard with the assumption that they all carry the same health risks. However, researchers have clearly shown that the oil from coconuts, a plant source, acts differently than the saturated fat from animal sources. The oil from coconuts is unique in nature and provides many health benefits obtainable from no other source.

What Coconut Oil DOES NOT Do: * Does not contain cholesterol. * Does not increase blood cholesterol level. * Does not promote platelet stickiness which leads to blood clot formation. * Does not contribute to atherosclerosis or heart disease. * Does not promote cancer or any other degenerative disease. * Does not contribute to weight problems.

What Coconut Oil DOES Do: * Reduces risk of atherosclerosis and related illnesses. * reduces risk of cancer and other degenerative conditions. * Helps prevent bacterial, viral, and fungal (including yeast) infections. * Supports immune system function. * Helps prevent osteoporosis. * Helps control diabetes. * Promotes weight loss. * Supports healthy metabolic function. * Provides an immediate source of energy. * Supplies fewer calories than other fats. * Supplies important nutrients necessary for good health. * Improves digestion and nutrient absorption. * Has a mild delicate flavor. * Is highly resistant to spoilage (long shelf life. * Is heat resistant (the healthiest oil for cooking. * Helps keep skin soft and smooth. * Helps prevent premature aging and wrinkling of the skin. * Helps protect against skin cancer and other blemishes.

As unbelievable as it sounds, the oil in coconuts has been found to aid the body in destroying dozens of harmful viruses including hepatitis C, herpes, and HIV. Coconut oil has been called the healthiest dietary oil on earth. If you’re not using coconut oil for your daily cooking and body care needs you’re missing out on one of nature’s most amazing health products. In this book you will discover the many healing miracles of coconut oil. Each health benefit is explained and fully documented by scientific research.

“Dr. Bruce Fife should be commended for bringing together in this very readable book the positive health benefits of coconut oil. The inquiring reader will have a new and more balanced view of the role of fat and especially saturated fats in our diet.”–Jon Kabara, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Michigan State University

The Coconut Oil Miracle (Previously published as The Healing Miracle of Coconut Oil)

Oh dear. No wine:(


Grapeseed oil has a very high smoking point, so appears to be good to use a high temps like stir frying.

Of course, for any oil the method of extraction is critical. Chemical extraction uses solvents. Cold pressed & virgin oil is always best.

What about refined? Is that bad? Been using Spectrum brand walnut oil (which on the label says naturally but mechanically pressed) & Trader Joe’s grapeseed oil for frying/sauteeing when I found out I wasn’t suppose to use extra virgin olive oil for frying. Does using extra virgin olive oil for frying necessarily make it bad (other than low smoking point & tasting bitter or strong)?

not sure–but I would be very careful–I am allergic to coconut but not peanuts…most every tree exept pine trees—wasto to bevery careful with the nuts since I am sooo allergic to so many trees----always an epi-pen within reach…

Sorry, not sure what you mean. Refined olive oil?

Don’t know about walnut oil. I’ve used this for salad dressing (yum!), but never heated it.

Mechanically pressed is good.

You can use virgin olive oil for frying, just not deep fat frying & it’s fine for sauteeing.

Unsaturated oils like canola, soybean & sunflower oil get lipid hydro-peroxides (LPHs–oxidized molecules) when extensively heated for deep frying.

Coconut oil & palm oil are very safe for frying at high temperatures. I’ve read to add a small amount of sesame oil (which has anti-oxidants) if these are used for deep frying.

Interestingly, animal fat (esp beef tallow) is supposed to be the safest thing for deep frying because saturated fats don’t produce LPHs when heated. Back to lard:) Coconut oil does have saturated fat, but they’re medium chain saturated fat which isn’t unhealthy.

Is that because peanuts aren’t nuts?

You could use palm oil. Never used it so I can’t speak to what it’s like, but it’s a healthy oil.

Well if saturated fats are back in. Why not lard and butter like our ancestors used. There were not any coconut palm trees anywhere in Europe.

Strange isn’t it how we’ve come full circle. See my reply below.

Humans appear to need a variety of fats & in the proper ratio. Difficult when the “rules” keep changing & our foods are so tainted & lacking in life force nutrients from processing.

Deep frying & excessive heat seems to be the most problematic part of oils/fats. For people who deep fry a lot or eat a lot of retaurant fried foods, the oil used is used over & over. Heating & reheating the same oil is really unhealthy