Canola Oil--Unhealthy Food For Thought?

Grapessed oil is yummy, bought a bottle at Costco.

We did a bus tour of France last May and northen France was knee deep in canola fields. The French are fussy about food. So you wonder if the anti-canola propaganda is urban myth or reality. On paper the stuff looks better than olive oil, better omega 3/omega6 and lower saturated fat. My wife has been making a 40% sweet butter and 60% canola mix to replace margerine, it has been a hit with the kids and cheaper and alledgedly better for the health.

I just came across your articles about the canola oil and have been reading them with interest. I had recently switched to a spread with canola oil in it thinking it was so much healthier for me. I can’t stand olive oil, love the walnut oil, coconut oil, and cook fish almost exclusiverly with macadamia nut oil when I grill it (which is most frequently). I have developed rather a good deal of capillary fragility and am now wondering if the canola oil I have been using so much has anything to do with that I had thought I was doing myself a favor by using the canola oil. So, now I will stop using it and see if the problem lessens. I also use the grapseed oil for salads as well. I seem to make a lot of my salad dressings I would appreciate hearing any other healthy or concerned tips about any of these. Thanks everyone.

Macadamia oil–yum! That sounds delicious. Will have to try that. Read that nut oils are too fragile for heating, but maybe grilling is different.

Hope stopping canola oil helps you.

Sad that we have to be biochemists to know what’s safe to eat.

Sunflower oil is most commonly used in South Africa.

I’ve seen TV chefs mix butter with olive oil to increase the smoking point and ability to fry.

I think I use olive oil in everything. I use it for skillet cooking in place of butter, on cookie sheets in place of nonstick spray, on fish and chicken prior to grilling, to season my cast iron dutch oven, and every morning in my eggs. One of the best investments I’ve ever made is a Misto spray bottle from Bed, Bath, & Beyond.

I don’t think I’ve used Canola in ages. Thanks for the info.

We used to have a mustard dispenser for the oils.

So can pig grease. And even more tasty.

allergic to that too :frowning:


Canola oil stinks.

Its omega 3/6 ratio isn’t as bad as with other vegetable oils, and this is the only good thing about canola oil.

Let’s think about the structure of the molecules- what are monounsaturated (olive oil), polyunsaturated (vegetable oils), and saturated fats (butter, lard, coconut oil)? Saturated means the molecules are saturated with hydrogen, making the structure very stable. Mono has one hydrogen bond; polyunsaturated have two or more. Mono and poly are weaker - have you noticed how good olive oil (a monounsaturated fat) comes in a dark bottle? That’s because sunlight alone can break down the molecule.

When the molecules break down, it creates new molecules that are toxic, so we want to avoid this.

When you cook with canola or olive oil, they can certainly break down. You can look up information about smoke points, but in general you don’t want to cook with these on high heat. Medium-low heat should be okay, higher if you’re cooking with water.

But wait, there’s more. During processing, canola oil is in fact subjected to high heat- as high as 1200 degress F (think about what it takes to squeeze oil out of a vegetable. It’s not that easy, so they press it under high heat). What do you think happens? The molecules break down. The oil actually has to go through a deodorification process to get rid of the smell at the end of processing. This is disgusting.

Olive oil doesn’t have this problem - good olive oils are always cold pressed, so they don’t go bad. Olive oil is great.

When cooking at high heat, we should use saturated fats. They are much safer. These include butter, lard (preferably home made because the processed ones are traditionally loaded with trans fats), and coconut oil. People have been cooking with these for milennia; they are natural, whole foods and they are not the cause of heart problems. We need to get over our hangup on saturated fats. Look up the research of Weston Price to examine traditional peoples thriving on diets heavy in saturated fats- fascinating stuff. Clearly the omega 3 / omega 6 situation has a much greater impact than the saturated / unsaturated fat situation. Omega 6’s cause the inflammation that can lead to heart problems.

Here’s the vegetable oil article I wrote a while ago -

I have that same bottle, it is great isn’t it? :slight_smile:

Dear Sam.

The french oil press can be pressurized to only about a 100 psi, we used to have one at our institute for pressing pulp. I can find my steam tables at the moment but I dont think that would be more than 300 F. At 1200 F you would thermally decompose the oil in an irreversible way. You would also try to minimize the oxygen infiltration during the pressing process.

Will look into the diodorizing process to see how they do it.

If the omega 3 / omega 6 is where it is at, then canola is good. I dont know about fats anymore, I have been so brainwashed about saturated fats that I have difficulty in seeing good about them.

High temperature frying is not good as the double bonds in the monosaturated and polysaturated will react with oxygen somewhat.

Anthony, very astute. I didn’t include this detail in my article because I couldn’t remember my source, and I was wrong to write it here. I did find sources saying that vegetable is heated as high as 450 degrees Fahrenheit in some times of processing and 200-250 degrees under other types- . The highest number I found was 310 degrees centigrade - . If I can remember where I got that 1200 degrees information from I’ll let you know, though you’re right to point out that this is the exception.

Still my point remains: vegetable oils are often heated to the point of being rancid, and that’s nasty.

Dear Sam.

The canola council web site discusses some of the processing that the canola seeds are subject too. It seems to be that like olive oil the first step is cold pressing that gives you the most expensive oil.

Then the cake is subject to hexane extraction which is alright as long as there is no benzene in the hexane. This probably is the bulk of the cheaper oil that is produced. In Canada benzene would not be allowed anywhere near food since it is a carcinogen.

The deodorization process is steam distillation were you bubble steam through the oil to remove the volatile odorous compounds, this also is likely to be low temperature.

I think the biggest problem with temperature is high temp frying were there is a lot of oxygen

Dear Sam.

Wiki says that olive oil will be rancid if produced from overipe olives and since in Canada or even in Europe the acid content of olive oil is no longer listed it is impossible to know what is rancid and what is not.

Extra virgin olive oil is not suitable for high temp frying since it contains some olive meat that will be scorched producing toxic compounds.

I am sure the canola oil producers and olive oil producers would take steps to minimize rancidity because of product quality issues by minimizing the presence of oxygen where it could occur.

The olive oil does contain some polyphenols that may be good.

May be we should go to cold pressed oils and hedge our bet 50/50 olive and canola.

Anthony, great information.

I guess at the end of the day I just hedge my bets with butter and coconut oil- the only oils I cook with. I only use olive oil at cold temperatures, and I never use other oils.

I guess I’m just so fervent against canola (aside from genetic modification, pesticides, poor farming practices, etc) because everyone thinks its fine if not healthy to cook with, and that’s not true. Canada probably does have better regulations, but I get the sense that most of the canola and other vegetable oils in my grocery store is very low quality. Most olive oil is of dubious quality as well - I look for brands recommended by my fellow health food bloggers, or at least ones in dark bottles so at least they appear like they’re trying. So, as I said, I think it’s safer to cook with saturated fats.

Dear Sam.

For temperature applications there is no doubt that saturated fats are more stable. Even the cheap olive oil in France was so much better than the expensive stuff here that you wonder.

Thanks, Judith. Great links!


Would appreciate your recommendations for high quality olive oils. I use Newman’s Own organic olive oil, organic coconut oil & organic butter. Thanks

Thank you Judith. What a find. I have been making my own dressings for a long time now and have so enjoyed walnut oil and almond oil and raspberry vinegar. I hadn’t seen some of these other oils before now and will definitely see how they are. I have gotten rid of the canola oil in my house now and really appreciate this info. Thank you to everyone.