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I homeschool and have a health ministry for friends, family, and health lovers world-wide. I'm totally into all-natural and avoid chemicals, food additives, etc. even in my cosmetics. I am working toward eating Vegan, Organic, and raw as much as possible (my family too). I'm married, and have two small kids and two grown step kids. Optimal Health - God's Way ".....and the fruit thereof shall be for meat (FOOD), and the leaf for MEDICINE." Ezekiel 47:12 KJV

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What is Canola oil? And why you should avoid it

I have never purchased canola oil bcs I always suspected there was something not quite natural about it. It is now officially on the GMO list. The article below explains why.

What is Canola oil? And why you should avoid it

If you really know what is Canola oil, you will not blindly accept what mainstream nutritionists, doctors and health authorities say about Canola oil being "the best" oil.
The campaign to promote Canola oil has been so successful that even lowly educated supermarket salesgirls might tell you that Canola oil is "the best". When you ask them why, they shrug their shoulders.

So what is Canola oil?

According to the people who promote it, Canola oil is the "best" or "ideal" oil for human consumption. It is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (about 60%), which are believed to be good for health. It further contains significant amounts (about 10%) of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are also good for health.

Sounds convincing? Maybe. But you should ask yourself, is there such a thing as "the best" oil in the first place?

People are different. They are born differently, they live in different environment conditions, they face different health issues and so on. People also eat different foods. Some eat plenty of meat, others eat plenty of vegetables...

When you consider such differences, it becomes obvious that different people have different needs. So the idea that there is one "best" oil for everybody is a wrong idea to begin with. This is just marketing propaganda.

History of Canola oil

The most important thing to know about what is Canola oil is this - Canola oil is an artificially created, genetically modified food. In nature, that is no such thing as a "Canola plant" that produces "Canola oil".
A bit of history will help us better understand what is Canola oil. The word Canola was coined in 1978 to describe a new type of oil that was developed from genetic manipulation of rapeseed. This new oil was first developed in Canada and the name Canola actually comes from the term, Canadian oil, low acid

The more interesting part of the history of Canola oil is why such an oil was developed in the first place. By the late 1970s, the oil industry in North America realised it had a problem. It had been promoting polyunsaturated fats (like corn oil and soybean oil) for many years, but more and more scientific evidence was emerging that these polyunsaturated fats caused an increase in cancer.

The focus turned to monounsaturated fatty acids, which have been widely recognised to be healthy. The obvious thing to do was to promote olive oil, which has been shown to be healthy. But... there was not enough olive oil for it to be used widely. And olive oil is costly, especially for commercial products like margarine, biscuits, salad dressings, etc.
Meanwhile, two Canadian plant breeders had using a genetic manipulation technique involving seed splitting come up with a new hybrid of the rapeseed plant. Rapeseed oil contains about 60 percent monounsaturated fatty acids. It had been traditionally used for cooking in Asia (in China, India and Japan) but it contains high levels of a toxic substance called Erucic acid.

The new hybrid of rapeseed has low levels of Erucic Acid. It was originally called LEAR, which stands for Low Erucic Acid Rapeseed. However, neither the name Rape (which came from the Latin word, Rapum, meaning "turnip") nor Lear were suitable for marketing. From a marketing standpoint, the new name, Canola, was great!

So now you know what is Canola oil... It is not only an artificially created food, it was created by the genetic manipulation of a toxic oil!

What is Canola oil - another interesting bit of history
In the 1980s, Canola oil began to be marketed in the United States. For that to happen, it has to be granted GRAS (generally regarded as safe) status by the US Food and Drug Administration.

GRAS status is typically awarded to foods and herbal products that have been traditionally used, for hundreds or even thousands of years, without known adverse effects.

Canada oil was a new product without any track record. And it was developed from a product known to have toxic effects. So how did it obtain GRAS status? No one knows for sure, but it has been rumoured that the Canadian government spent US$50 million to get it approved.

In the 1980s, Canola oil began to be marketed in the US. By the early 1990s, the name Canola became widely known worldwide. The Canola oil propagnda has become one of the most successful international marketing campaigns of all time.

This was done, firstly, by avoiding the question of what is Canola oil as well as the history of its development. Secondly, the campaign was not waged through regular consumer advertising. A conscious effort was made to target health professionals like nutritionists and doctors, as well as health-conscious comsumers. And so Canola oil was promoted mainly through scientific papers and conferences, as well as through health books.

One such book was written by Dr. Artemis Simopoulos, a researcher who did piioneering work on the benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids. In 1998, Dr. Artemis Simopoulos published The Omega Plan and in 1999, the book was re-issued as The Omega Diet. In her book, Dr. Artemis Simopoulos discussed the benefits of monounsaturated fatty acids and Omega 3 fatty acids, and many of her recipes mentioned Canola Oil.

We have a wealth of evidence showing that populations that consume good quality olive oil as a primary dietary fat have significantly lower rates of both heart disease and cancer than those that don't. We have no comparable epidemiological data for Canola.
Also unlike extra-virgin olive oil, Canola oil doesn't contain the anti-oxidant polyphenols that are protective against heart disease and cancer.

– Dr Andrew Weil

Many other cookbooks that appeared after the 1990s also mentioned "Olive oil or Canola oil" in their recipes. Canola oil also began to be endorsed by prominent health writers like Dr Barry Sears, author of The Zone Diet and Dr Andrew Weil, who has written more than 10 books on natural health and integrative medicine - and who has twiced appeared on the cover of Time Magazine, in 1997 and 2005.
I used to hold Dr Andrew Weil in high regard and had bought several of his books when I first got interested in the subject of natural health. But his endorsement of Canola oil tells me that he, too, is limited in his understanding about what is Canola oil.

Interestingly, Dr Andrew Weil has since moderated his stance on Canola oil. In reply to a question on whether he recommends Canola oil as an alternative to Olive oil, Dr Andrew Weil wrote on his website that he now considers Canola oil to be "a distant runner-up to Olive oil". He added that he now takes Canola oil only "in moderation".

So now we have another definition of what is Canola oil - it is "a distant runner-up to olive oil"! Actually, it is highly misteading to compare Canola oil with olive oil, because the two are completely different.

For one thing, olive oil is not known to have any harmful health effects. But as I reseached further the question of what is Canola oil, I discovered that Canola oil does come with some serious health issues. Among other things, it was found in animal experiments to retard the growth of young animals. For this reason, Canola oil is not allowed to be used in infant formula.

Another issue is that while Canola oil has a high content of beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids, that Omega-3 turns rancid easily. It is also easily converted into trans fats. So Canola oil is actually quite different from olive oil. It just so happens that both are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, but that is all. Mentioning the two types of oil in the same breath is just part of the marketing ploy,

Click here for Part II of this article on What is Canola Oil, which discusses more fully the dangers of Canola oil.



  1. Hi,
    this was interesting, I have just put up a page on my alternative fuel site on canola http://www.best-alternative-fuel-sources.com/what-is-canola-oil.html I am not suppose to discuss oil as food, I focus on fuel, but I think I will add some of your info as I find it valuable, and link to your blog for people who are interested in knowing more. This will be put on my "to do list".
    Kindly Anna

  2. Miriam,
    I have now included a few words on GMO and Canola and linked your blog to my age http://www.best-alternative-fuel-sources.com/what-is-canola-oil.html Please send me an email if you like to make any comments: anna@sternfeldt.se
    Kindly Anna

    1. Thanks for letting me know, Anna! Very cool.