(11/1/11 Note: The revised version of Loren Cordain's The Paleo Diet no longer promotes canola oil as healthy, but at the time of this post's original publication, the version of The Paleo Diet that I purchased was pro-canola oil.)
I have been saying I should blog about this topic for months now, so here it goes. I'm keeping it pretty short so as to stick to the parts I want to get out there now, and we can get into more details if necessary later, cool? Cool. Here goes…
CANOLA OIL – WHY I WON'T EAT IT:
1. HOW CANOLA OIL IS MADE
(Only since the 1980s- read: NEW FOOD! NEW FOODS ARE NOT REAL FOODS)
How the Rapeseed becomes the yellow colored, mild smelling oil that's on shelves in stores goes something like this:
Rapeseeds + high heat processing with hexane (a chemical solvent) = a grey, awful smelling, non-smooth oil.
> grey, awful smelling, non-smooth oil is then chemically bleached and de-gummed
> bleached and de-gummed, awful smelling oil is then chemically deodorized
> bleached, de-gummed, chemically deodorized oil is then dyed yellow and bottled in plastic
For the full process, check out this industry link. The process is actually longer than listed above, but those are the big steps. The description via this link gets into detail but the summary they provide for Rapeseed oil refining is as follows:
“The refining process involves degumming, neutralization, drying, bleaching, and deodorization. Crude oil from extraction has to be refined to obtain a high quality oil. Natural impurities of crude rapeseed oil include water, dirt, phosphatide gums, free fatty acids, color matter, odiferous and flavorous substances, natural breakdown and oxidation products of the oil itself. There are two methods for refining edible oils: alkali and physical refining.”
HEALTHY OIL? HMM… What do you think?
Also, according to Mary Enig, author of “Know Your Fats,” a book considered to be THE leading resource on the subject of fats and oils, Canola oil “was produced by genetically modifying the parent rapeseed so that the monounsaturated fatty acid would be oleic acid instead of another monounsaturated fatty acid caled erucic acid. Erucic acid-containing rapeseed oil is considered undesirable as a food by the US and Canadian governments.” And “like any highly unsaturated fat, it needs to be carefully handled as it becomes rancid very easily.” The effects of genetically modified crops are still unknown, but many predict that they won't be positive as time goes on. If that's not reason enough to avoid canola oil…
2. HOW CANOLA OIL WORKS IN THE BODY
Highly unsaturated fats like Canola oil oxidize VERY easily. Leave a bottle open on a counter for a week. Smell what happens. Do the same with coconut oil or even butter. Smell what happens. The chemical structure of unsaturated fats is VERY delicate. When something in their environment isn't perfect, their structure is changed easily, causing them to oxidize. This is one reason why we say that olive oil shouldn't be heated or only on very low temperatures- so that it's chemical structure can remain in tact. Once these structures are changed, the body can't use them as intended.
Coconut and other saturated fats are far more STABLE and do no chemically change when heat is applied (at least not as easily, it will take much higher heat for longer periods of time), so when they enter our bodies, they're in-tact and our bodies recognize them as what they are from nature. Oxidized or rancid oils in the body enter and cannot be biochemically understood as food. They enter and are more like a PLASTIC in the body, or a toxin. Our body does not metabolize toxins but rather STORES them – in our fat cells. This leads to inflammation. Inflammation is a key player in many chronic diseases, weight gain, weight loss resistance, general feeling of fatigue, pain and lethargy, joint pain, etc. While I recognize that canola oil's fatty acid profile is high in health-promoting omega 3s, neglecting to look beyond that one seemingly positive attribute of the oil (which becomes a moot point once the oil is oxidized, which we can see happens extremely easily) paints a false picture of this oil's true composition and function in our bodies.
I hope that was enough information on why canola oil is bad. Coconut oil, why it's good- I have to save that for another day. I need some dinner.
In the event that you'd like to read more on canola oil, a simple search on mercola.com for “canola oil” reveals many results. He's a trusted naturopathic doctor who has long provided valuable medical guidance to living a healthier life, naturally. Robb Wolf also covers a bit about coconut oil in his Paleolithic Solution podcast, Episode 23 which is free for anyone to listen to streaming or download.