Is Canola oil really that healthy?

Canola flowers Photo by Denes Kozma on Unsplash

Is Canola oil really that healthy?

Yesterday my husband asked me if Canola oil was beneficial for health or not and I made him read a previous post on this blog which proved that it was not. There he was with other reports in newspapers proving that it was good for Indian cooking and healthy. That made me think about the power of internet that can prove your point any which way you want, positive or negative. Also this discussion made me think, ‘is Canola oil really that healthy‘?

Is canola oil really that healthyCanola oil Photo by Edgar Castrejon on Unsplash

Various brands are selling canola oil under different brand names as one of the healthiest oils. It is being used by the various food processing industry brands as the best medium to prepare dressings for preparing chips, salad dressings and mayonnaise. With the craze for munching on crunchy chips to relishing a juicy Shawarma and steamed Momos with mayonnaise to eating salads with dressings for a healthy meal, the young and old every one is consuming canola oil in various forms. Wait… has anyone ever thought if canola oil is really healthy or not?

What is canola oil?

Before we talk about the good and bad of canola oil, let us know, what is canola oil and how is it prepared.

Canola oil is prepared from a type of the rapeseed plant. In 1950, Rapeseed oil was introduced in the market but because of its strong color and flavor, people did not like it. In 1970, canola oil was introduced which was basically produced from the ‘not so healthy’ rapeseed after genetically modifying it. It was then introduced as a natural oil. Later in 1995, Monsanto (the controversial company) created a genetically modified version of canola oil. Canadian scientists created canola through crossbreeding rapeseed plant and that it from where it got its name as CANOLA; Canadian Oil.

Canola oil is healthy or not!

The genetic modifications assured people of canola oil being safe for human consumption as it reduced erucic acid from 50% to 5%. Please note that erucic acid is known to be harmful for health. Though it is thought to be safe for human health but it is believed that the health dangers of canola oil are much more than we know about. Now the question arises that why canola oil is so widely used all over the sections of packaged food industry?

Yes, you guessed it right… it is because :

  1. Canola oil is very inexpensive as the cost of it to grow and harvest is very less. Reason being the genetic modifications and because its crop remains unharmed by insects.
  2. Due to selective breeding this version of rapeseed oil is low in erucic acid and high in oleic acid like olive oil.
  3. Canola oil is considered high in omega-3 fats and it tastes neutral.
  4. It is said that canola oil contains low saturated fat, high MUFA, and has zero trans fats.

In India, canola oil has since long been carefully marketed as a health-food oil that is low in saturated fats and a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. But the fact is that canola oil is not only genetically modified, but also highly processed and refined oil that makes it a major contributor to the health problems. As we all know that processing changes the structure of oil and causes it to be hydrogenated which is never a good food choice. Canola oil is considered to be a good industrial oil, but not a good food choice. It is used in making candles, toiletries, cosmetics, lubricants, inks as well as bio-fuels. So nope, it is not a good food choice.

Health risks of Canola oil

There is research which suggests that canola oil may be harmful to health.

  1. Although canola oil is being promoted as a heart-healthy fat but the fact is that it is not.

2. A 2018  Trusted source study says that people using canola oil for cooking are more likely to have metabolic syndrome.

3. Some studies link canola oil to oxidative stress and increase in inflammation related issues. A research of 2020 concludes that any food or diet having more than 6% rapeseed oil can cause inflammation.

4. A research of 2017  says that regular consumption of canola oil may cause a negative effect on memory.

5. Not only this, because of it being extremely processed and genetically modified, canola oil can cause abnormalities related to blood platelets.

6. It can cause retardation of normal growth among kids and is illegal in infant formulas.

7. It causes free radical damage and higher risks of cancer due to the hydrogenation.

8. It can cause weight gain as well as bowel inflammation due to its processing techniques.

Finally I have understood one thing that

  • it is always good to go for cold pressed oils instead of commercially processed ones.
  • not to fall for marketing gimmicks mindlessly.
  • My personal choice will always be cold pressed mustard oil and my homemade desi ghee.

What do you think?

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