The Great Canola Oil Debate

If you follow the Barton Publishing blog, you may have noticed a recent post about which cooking oils to avoid and subsequent comments regarding the safety of canola oil in another post about reducing inflammation.

I am here to set the record straight that you should NOT include canola oil in any of your recipes.

Most people have heard from public opinion and “trusted” health sources that canola oil is “heart healthy” with the right source of monounsaturated fats comparable to olive oil.  Mainstream media prompts people to ask me,”Why is canola oil bad for you?”

First, let me tell you that popular belief led by the mainstream media is propagated by big food companies.  The heavy handed marketing tactics they feed the public only feeds their pockets. Canola oil is cheap to produce so they fool you into thinking it is a “healthy oil.” You buy the canola oil to feed your family and choose restaurants who cook with it as their mains source of oil.

The Unhealthy Truth about Canola Oil

One truth you can believe is that canola oil is high in monounsaturates. But, canola oil is far from being labeled a “healthy oil.”

Canola oil is made from rapeseed, which is actually bred over the years to reduce the percentage of a problematic component found in rapeseed called erucic acid.

The Urban Myth of Canola Oil

Let me take a moment to address the many websites that DEFEND canola oil.  These voices make the cry that the dangers of canola oil are unfounded.  The problem is that these websites that defend canola oil ONLY talk about the issue of erucic acid.  The issue of erucic acid IS an urban legend, because erucic acid has been bred out to very low levels over the years, so it is a non-issue.

However, these websites that defend canola oil are barking up the wrong tree. They don’t even have the courage to address the issue of canola oil processing and oxidation of the polyunsaturated component of canola oil. This is where the truth is hidden: oxidation is what makes canola oil unhealthy for human consumption. Most respected and authoritative nutrition experts agree that this is the REAL issue concerning canola oil.  But some websites simply ignore this fact.

The REAL Truth about Canola Oil

Canola oil typically ranges between 55-65% monounsaturated fat and between 28-35% polyunsaturated fat, with just a small amount of saturated fat.

While we’ve been led to believe that high monounsaturated fat oils are good for us (which they are in the case of virgin olive oil or from unprocessed nuts or seeds), the fact is that canola oil has more detriments than it does benefits.

As you may have heard me talk about in other articles or in the Truth about Six Pack Abs program… one of the biggest problems with highly processed and refined vegetable oils is that the polyunsaturated component of the oil is highly unstable under heat, light, and pressure and this heavily oxidizes the polyunsaturates which increases free radicals in your body.

This means cooking oils such corn oil, soybean oil, and yes, even canola oil is highly inflammatory.  When you ingest canola oil and other highly refined and processed oils, you

are contributing to heart disease, weight gain, and other degenerative diseases.

What about extra virgin olive oil? This beautiful oil is usually cold pressed without the use of heat and solvents to aid in extraction.  As a result, extra virgin olive oil actually contains essential antioxidants that help protect the stability of the oil.

Canola oil, on the other hand, is typically extracted and refined using high heat, pressure, and petroleum solvents such as hexane. When you consume canola oil, you are ingesting oil that has been refined, degummed, bleached and deodorized, all with high head and questionable chemicals!  Scary!

Does Canola Even Have Trans Fats?

If all the heavy processing and refunding weren’t enough, the solvents actually force some of the omega-3 content of canola oil to be transformed into trans fats.

According to Dr. Mary Enig, PhD, and Nutritional Biochemist,

“Although the Canadian government lists the trans fat content of canola at a minimal 0.2 percent, research at the University of Florida at Gainesville, found trans fat levels as high as 4.6 percent in commercial liquid canola oil.”

Are you seeing this?  This is all the crap that they are marketing canola oil to you as a “healthy oil!”

Because of how canola oil is processed, it is hardly anything you call healthy. The bottom line of canola oil is that it is an inflammatory oil in your body and should be avoided as much as possible (as well as other junk oils like soybean oil or corn oil).

If you want a neutral tasting oil, use cold and expeller-pressed, organic canola oil.  These are rare and hard to find, so you might as well choose oils that you know are healthier. Check out these healthy cooking oils to learn how to choose the appropriate cooking oil.

True Healthy Oils

  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) – Use when cooking at low temperatures or in a healthy salad dressing oil
  • Virgin coconut oil – Coconut oil is perfect for cooking at all temperatures because it maintains it chemical stability under high heat.  It is a tremendous source of healthy saturated fats in the form of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), one of which is Lauric Acid, which helps support the immune system and is lacking in most western diets.
  • Organic grass-fed butter – Grass-fed butter is a great source of the healthy fat CLA, which has even been shown in studies to have muscle building and fat burning properties.  Grass-fed butter also has a much healthier omega-6 to omega-3 ratio than standard butter at your grocery store.  Kerrygold Irish butter is my favorite grass-fed butter.
When I cook, I like to use a mix of grass-fed butter, coconut oil and a small bit of olive oil.

So, I hope the claims about “healthy” canola oil have been revealed as a foolish claim. Don’t be fooled into believing canola oil is healthy because this couldn’t be farther from the truth!

Choose some of the healthier options above and your body will thank you!

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by Mike Geary, Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutrition Specialist
Author of the best-seller:  
The Truth About Six Pack Abs