A lot of families are cooking with an artificial product that could cause serious health problems, and they don’t even realize it. To make matters worse, that artificial product is widely touted as a “healthy choice” and is even promoted by some health experts.
So what is this product? It’s canola oil; yes, that’s right, canola oil, which most health food cookbooks tell you to cook with because it’s a “low-fat” choice and unsaturated. That part is true, but there are some things about canola oil that you probably don’t realize. When you read the truth about canola oil, you might never use it again. Unfortunately, the food industry has gone to great lengths to suppress the facts about canola.
What Canola Oil Is Really Made Of
Canola oil is actually made from the rapeseed plant, which is poisonous to humans and other mammals. It has to be industrially processed in order to be made into cooking oil. In fact, when canola oil was first developed back in the mid-1980s, the Food and Drug Administration refused to allow it into the United States because rapeseed was regarded as poisonous.
Rapeseed is actually so poisonous that it was used as a pesticide at one time. In its natural form, the rapeseed plant can be toxic to humans. Rapeseed is a toxic and noxious weed. It’s so toxic that insects will not eat it. So how did rapeseed oil appear in your kitchen?
Well, back in the 1970s, the agribusiness giant, Cargill, had a problem; its corn and soybean oils had been found to clog arteries and cause heart disease. It needed an alternative, and it found one in something called Low Erucic Acid Rapeseed, or LEAR, a genetically modified version of rapeseed that could be processed into unsaturated cooking oil.
Cargill had a number of problems, not the least of which was the product’s name. First it created the name “canola” (which is an acronym for Canadian Oil Low Acid) to cover up what the food was actually made from. The name “canola” was created by marketing experts in order to fool the public.
Canola Oil Is Made from a Toxic Plant
It’s easy to see why they wanted to cover up the fact they were using rapeseed. In its natural form, rapeseed could cause some serious problems.
Here are some interesting facts about rapeseed you might not like:
- In its natural form, rapeseed is high in erucic acid, which has been shown to cause Keshan’s disease, which creates fibrous lesions in the heart. Supposedly, Cargill’s genetically engineered rapeseed is low in erucic acid, so this doesn’t happen.
- The use of rapeseed as livestock feed was banned in Europe because pigs, sheep, and cattle that ate it went crazy and attacked people. This erratic behavior was originally blamed on the viral disease “scrapie.” However, when rapeseed was removed from the feed and the equation, the “scrapie” disappeared (although scientists still say the rapeseed had nothing to do with the behavior of the animals).
- Rapeseed has also been shown to cause brain and nervous system damage in humans.
- Rapeseed has been shown to cause breathing problems, including emphysema, in animals and humans.
- Rapeseed has been linked to higher incidents of lung cancer in people.
Here’s something else you might not realize; canola oil actually has a very high level of transfat, sometimes as high as 40%. The process used to manufacture it involves hexane, an industrial solvent that might or might not be toxic.
What We Don’t Know
To be fair, there is no evidence that canola oil has these toxic side effects, but we should be aware of the fact that the oil is made from a toxic plant. Although, it should be pointed out that canola oil has only been around for less than 30 years. We simply don’t know what effects its long-term consumption could have on human beings.
That’s right; canola oil has only been around for less than 30 years. There’s no way to tell what canola oil consumption can do to the human body long term because it is so new. What’s really bothersome is that not many long-term studies on canola’s effects have been done.
The few studies done turned up some bothersome side effects, such as the fact that canola oil consumption caused vitamin E deficiencies in piglets. Among other things, this caused excessive bleeding and anemia in the pigs. Another study on rats done by the Health Research and Toxicology Division of the Canadian Ministry of Agriculture found that consumption of canola oil actually shortened the lives of rats with high blood pressure.
Two scientists that reviewed the research on canola oil, Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, found that research indicates “that canola oil is definitely not healthy for the cardiovascular system.” In other words, the supposedly heart healthy food might be bad for the heart.
How Canola Oil Got into Your Cabinet
Another problem is the questionable way in which canola was approved for human consumption by the FDA. When it first appeared in 1985, the FDA was actually very reluctant to approve its use. The FDA’s scientists were apparently bothered by the idea of promoting a toxic weed as cooking oil.
That changed when an organization called the Canola Council of Canada and the Canadian government began putting pressure on the FDA to approve canola oil for human consumption. The Canadian government got involved because rapeseed is grown in Canada, and canola’s approval would be a windfall for Canadian farmers. Some reports indicate that the Canadian government spent $50 million of the taxpayers’ dollars to get the oil approved.
Interestingly enough, the FDA does not allow the use of canola oil in baby formulas because its scientists consider canola oil toxic to babies. The reason for this may be that it can cause vitamin E deficiencies. Health experts are telling you to cook with something the FDA considers too dangerous for babies to eat.
Since then, publicists for the canola industry have worked hard to get canola listed as a favored ingredient in cookbooks. It also sponsored or worked through scientific conferences to get canola oil on the menu. Part of the reason why many health experts push canola oil is that they are paid to.
What You Can Do
There is no evidence that canola oil is actually toxic, but given its questionable history, it might be a good idea to remove it from your diet or limit its use. A better alternative to cooking with canola is to simply limit the amount of fried food in your family’s diet.
If you must fry or use oil, use olive oil or coconut oil, both of which are more expensive. Coconut oil can also be used in place of canola oil in baking and some other purposes. If you use olive oil, be careful because some of the cheaper brands of olive oil on the market are actually a mixture of olive and canola oil.
Beyond that, try avoiding those products that are most likely to have high levels of canola oil, such as commercial baked goods, frozen foods, and cooking sprays. Try cooking from scratch and eating healthy organic foods instead. Read the label of everything that you buy because some foods labeled olive oil actually contain canola oil.
Try limiting canola consumption at home, but don’t get too hysterical. Small amounts of the oil are probably not harmful, but constant exposure to it might be. The truth is that we simply don’t know enough about canola oil to know whether it’s safe or not. Like other genetically modified foods, this artificial ingredient may have hidden health risks that we are not aware of. Do you really want to expose your family to those risks?