Cold-pressed canola oil in small amounts and at low cooking temperatures is not particularly bad for you. However, the way in which most canola oil is processed may be hazardous to your health.
Canola oil is a variety of vegetable oil extracted from a particular type of rapeseed. The name canola comes from CANadian OLA (meaning "oil") as a tribute to the Canadian scientists who first made it. Canola oil, like other vegetable oils, contains polyunsaturated fats such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that may impart some health benefits, particularly to the brain and heart. However, because of the chemical processing most canola and other vegetable oils undergo, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is much higher than the body can efficiently process. This means that while omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are both essential to proper brain and heart functions, the excessively high levels of omega-6 fatty acids in canola oil can actually contribute to brain damage, heart disease, and changes in cell membrane structure all over the body.
Another potential problem with canola oil is that most rapeseed used in its production (at least in North America) have been genetically modified to be resistant to weed-killers and pesticides commonly used on crops. While cold-pressed and organic canola oils are available, the vast majority have been processed at high temperatures using hexane as a method of extraction, a process which significantly raises the levels of oxidized fats and trans fats. Both genetic modification of crops and chemical oil extraction are fairly new processes, developed in response to a consumer demand for less-expensive products. Because humans have just started adding genetically modified food and chemically extracted oils to their regular diets in the last 100 years or so, researchers can't be sure of all the risks associated with them.
Organic, cold-pressed canola oil is okay in moderation when used at low cooking temperatures. Canola oil isn't safe for use at high cooking temperatures, and processed, chemically treated varieties are more likely to be dangerous.
Possible long-term side effects
- cardiovascular disease
- brain damage
- cell damage
Ingredients to be aware of
- cold-pressed canola oil
- extra virgin olive oil
- avocado oil
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Written by Leah Bolton | 01-28-2016
Written by Leah Bolton
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