We have been led to believe that canola oil is healthy and that we should use it in place of vegetable oil. I even saw an episode of Dr. Oz where he endorsed the use of canola oil as healthy and a great way to lose weight and lower cholesterol. Chick-fil-a has jumped on the bandwagon with a sign stating “Waffle fries now cooked in Canola Oil!” Now let us all run to Chick-fil-a and grab up those waffle fries with less guilt than eating fries from McDonald’s. I have to admit that Chick-fil-a’s fries are quite tasty, especially when they come to you hot and fresh! I know we all consider Chick-fil-a as our “healthy” fast food restaurant when compared to McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, etc…that’s a different blog we’ll get to later. We have to come to a realization about what we are putting into our bodies. Did you know that canola oil does not occur in nature? Do you know of a canola plant growing somewhere on our planet???
After digging a little deeper than the information we’ve been fed by the media, I have learned that canola oil is a genetic manipulation of rapeseed oil (an oilseed plant), altered to reduce its levels of toxic erucic acid. Canola Oil, first produced in Canada, was originally called “Lear” oil, which stands for “Low Erucic Acid Rapeseed” oil, but was later changed to the more consumer-friendly “Canola” oil, meaning “Canadian Oil Low Acid.”
Erucic acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid (containing both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in a ratio of 2:1) that is linked to cardiac muscle damage or heart disease. It has many of the same uses as mineral oil, and it is a precursor to bio-diesel. Natural rapeseed oil contains 45%-50% erucic acic. Food grade rapeseed oil, known as canola oil, is limited by government regulation to a maximum of 2% erucic acid by weight in the USA and 5% in the EU, with special regulations for infant food. These low levels of erucic acid are not believed to cause harm in humans. Not only is canola oil manmade, but during the manufacturing process, the healthy omega-3 fats are denatured making it unrecognizable and unusable by the body. The definition of denatured is to change the nature or natural qualities of; to render unfit to eat or drink without destroying usefulness in other applications, especially to add methanol to (ethyl alcohol). The denaturing process creates a horrible odor, which is removed by additional heating of the oil at 300F. Canola oil as well as vegetable oils are not stable when heated, as this process further denatures the omega-3’s and causes rancidity. Rancidification is the decomposition of fats, by exposure to air, heat, or light, causing oils to oxidize and form free radicals. Free radicals attack the cells in our bodies and turn them into cancer cells like a chain reaction or domino effect. You are feeding your body free radicals when you consume canola oil. Canola oil is in everything! You will find it in an alarming number of processed foods, such as, salad dressings, chips, mayonnaise, frozen sweet potato fries, and many others. Check the ingredients of every product you buy, anywhere! Even in health food stores! It is the cheapest oil to use in food processing. You will see a lot of websites that support canola oil claiming that it is totally safe and not genetically modified. The FDA labels canola oil along with other processed/manmade foods as “Generally Recognized As Safe” (GRAS)…what in the world does that mean? We all know by now, or at least we should know that it is questionable whether the FDA is here to protect our health.
So, what can you use when cooking with oil? Extra-virgin olive oil is highly alkaline and is full of anti-oxidants & phytonutrients. It is ideal for drizzling on salads or lightly sauteeing foods. It tends to make food soggy rather than crispy. Caution: It will turn rancid when heated above 120F. If it smokes, it has already turned rancid. Always purchase extra-virgin olive oil in a dark glass container since exposure to light can cause rancidity. Grapeseed oil (not rapeseed oil) is good for use with high heat. Coconut oil is by far superior over all since it adds an incredible flavor to food. It has been shown to support the thyroid, heart and immune system, and ideal for frying or for use with high heat temperatures since it does not turn rancid. There are still some questions about extra virgin versus virgin coconut oil, and whether extra virgin really exists. I am still researching this, and will address this issue in a later blog. I, personally, use organic extra virgin coconut oil for my only oil in cooking. I, also, use it as a skin moisture, which I’ll talk about later. Hopefully, you will find this post helpful!
Maximized Living Nutrition Plans by Dr. B.J. Hardick, Kimberly Roberto, & Dr. Ben Lerner http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/erucic+acid http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erucic_acid http://www.rice.edu/~jenky/sports/antiox.html