Recent innovations in science have revealed that fat is not the devil we thought it was a decade ago.
Foods that have been chemically altered to make them “low fat” - such as “not butter” substitutes - are definitely not something you should be eating on a daily basis. Although fat in cooking is more of a friend than a foe, the super-processed oils in the food we eat everyday are harming our bodies.
Canola oil (also known as rapeseed oil) is commonly marketed for its high content of healthy monounsaturated fats and low amount of saturated fats. This much is indeed true. However, there are other issues lurking beneath the surface when it comes to canola oil.
Let’s take a look at why canola oil is a no-no for cooking and how to avoid consuming it in processed foods.
1. Canola Oil is Highly Processed
Many people try to avoid processed foods to keep their body healthy. Even government guidelines (which tend to be highly influenced by lobbying from the food industry) support the notion that whole foods are much better than processed ones.
The further a food product is from its natural form, the more likely it is that it’s lost most of its nutritional value. In the worst cases, processing foods actually adds harmful ingredients.
If you’re one of those people, canola oil is definitely not the oil for you. It must be highly processed in order to be edible. As it turns out, the rapeseed from which canola oil is produced doesn’t actually contain much oil, so getting it out efficiently requires a great deal of processing.
2. Due to Processing, Rapeseed Oil is High in Trans Fatty Acids
Recent revelations have shown us that trans fatty acids (found mostly in processed oils) are absolutely terrible for our bodies and should be avoided at all costs.
Scientists have found that these fatty acids can lower good cholesterol (HDL) and raise bad cholesterol (LDL) levels, which contributes to heart attacks, stroke and many other health problems..
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has even called for these substances to be phased out in food production all together. Though Canola oil contains this type of fat in smaller doses than say, a solid partially hydrogenated oil, it’s still too much in my book.
Processed food is the worst! Check how to cut processed carbs to lose weight.
3. It is Everywhere and Nearly Impossible to Avoid
Seriously, canola oil is almost impossible to get away from. Checking out the ingredients lists on products at the grocery store may lead you to believe that it’s everywhere.
Canola oil is found in most processed food products. Pick up anything from the supermarket shelf that comes in a box and you’ll probably see it on the ingredient lists. Even ‘health’ foods and so-called “natural” products contain canola oil.
4. It Comes From a Highly Modified Plant
While the GMO argument rages on with people on both sides of the fence crying foul at the other, food manufacturers are still heavily using GMO products. Up to 70% of food contain GMOs.
Legislation that will require the labeling of GMOs has been mostly stonewalled on a national level. This means that anyone avoiding GMOs has to select only organic products or avoid foods made with ingredients that are commonly modified. Canola oil is one of those ingredients to avoid if you’re not a fan of GMOs.
5. Chemical Processing is Used for Most Canola Oil
Unless a cooking oil is specifically labeled “cold-pressed” or “expeller pressed”, your cooking oil is likely processed with either heat, chemicals, or both. This processing is what creates dangerous trans fatty acids.
Another important note on the processing methods used to produce these oils is that some chemicals can remain in the final product. While canola oil manufacturers insist that the chemicals are washed off, who knows how much actually remains?
The Last Word on Canola Oil
We’ve established that this “healthy” oil may not be all it’s cracked up to be. However, it certainly doesn’t deserve some of the crazy rumors that have been invented in the media.
For example, canola oil was not responsible for the Mad Cow Disease outbreak of the early 2000s, nor does modern rapeseed oil contain enough erucic acid to cause heart lesions.
While eating a little canola oil here and there probably won’t do you noticeable harm, there are certainly healthier, less processed alternatives out there.