wholesome health advice

What is a canola?

Canola is a made-up word, not a vegetable or plant.

You may be surprised to know that canola oil is also a made-up word…and that canola oil is not healthful.

Prior to the 1980’s, canola oil was called rapeseed oil, manufactured from rapeseed, a member of the mustard family. Marketers took this name as a hard sell so created the acronym, canola, taken from Canadian and low acid.    Sure this oil has low acid and originally derived in Canada, but it certainly is not a healthful option.  Why?

Canola oil is highly refined, genetically-modified, and contains 14% fragile omega-3 fatty acids, making its healthful heating point about 100 degrees.   The manufacturing is troubling, a procedure that begins with high-temperature pressing using solvent (hexane) extract (traces remain even after refining).  Like other vegetable oils, canola is bleached, de-gummed, and deodorized.  Manufacturers add deodorizers to mask potential rancidity.   Rancid oils don’t just smell and taste bad, they are oxidized, which can cause damage to cells and tissue, and inflammation.

Very few studies exist touting evidence as to why canola is healthful, but some believe it to be.   Yet, canola oil is banned from infant formulas in the U.S. and Canada.   “Research in the late 1990’s has shown that oils such as canola oil are not appropriate for growing animals and likely not appropriate for growing children” (Know Your Fats: The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils and Cholesterol by Mary G. Enig, PhD).

Why is this oil ubiquitous?  It’s cheaper than better alternatives.   Inspect food labels.  If they state, may use canola oil and/or…, know that canola is probably used and don’t purchase.   Purchase products manufactured with integrity from manufacturers using safflower oil, olive oil, coconut oil.  For healthy cooking options try extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, Ghee, or lard.

“All I ask of food is that it doesn’t harm me.” Michael Palin

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