What is Canola Oil?

Canola Oil was created after Canadian scientists wanted to make rapeseed oil more edible. See, originally rapeseed oil was used for industrial purposes and it was cheap. But they found out that, well, basically it’s nasty and really bad for you and can do things like cause cancer and is toxic to the heart due to high levels of euric acids.  So what these scientists did was hybridize the seed and then really put it through a caustic process of refining, and “degumming”, as they call it, by using very high temps and chemicals… all of which are quite questionable (see below).  And in the end they called that safe and thus was born Canola Oil, short for Canadian oil.

So if they made it so much safer, why would it be bad?  Well by most standards, which are also questionable themselves, they are safe.  But here’s why it gets a bad rap, and why I advise others to avoid it when possible:

Chemicals Used To Process Canola Oil

It takes a lot of chemicals to process the oil and even more chemicals, such as hexane, to extract more oil from the seeds.  See, in the beginning these seeds are not suitable for human consumption so they have to put it through a lot of processing to get the bad stuff neutralized, but in doing so they expose the product to some very nasty chemicals that remain in the oil.  And it doesn’t make sense to me either because I thought that’s what they were trying to avoid, you know, by removing toxic chemicals and acids.  But they replaced them with more.

Deodorization of Canola Oil

Here’s a little fun fact:  in the processing of turning the dwarf rapeseeds into oil, the high heat burns off the high levels of saturated fats which then go rancid and smell pretty nasty.  This is where the workers in heavy white space suits come in and deodorize the oil to take away that rancid smell.  But no worries!  They added a bunch of chemicals to make it “safe”, it just smells real bad.  #smh

Oxidization of Oil

When the oil (or fats) go rancid, in this case, it means it’s been oxidized.  Just like a peeled fruit being exposed to air, imagine what happens to it.  When it’s oxidized, it begins to die and turn brown.  So this is what happens to the saturated fats during processing and turns them into trans fats.  Essentially, it dies.  It’s dead.  Enjoy!

Ratio of Fats in Canola Oil

Like I said above, the processing of the oil oxidizes the saturated fats and turns them into trans fats through the chemical processing used to overcome the effects of oxidization.  This takes the good fat out and creates a huge disproportion in fat ratios in the oil.  Saturated fats (n-3s) become only 7% of the canola oil, while monounsaturated fat (n-6s) represents 67% and polyunsaturated fats (n-6s) stand second at 26%.  Biologically speaking, the ratios of n-3 to n-6s should be closer to 1:1 (saturated: unsaturated), but in this case, and like most of our modern, imbalanced, processed food diets, it’s around 1:10 or worse.  That’s 10x the trans fats to saturated fats needed to keep balance and you know what that means?  Inflammation for $500, Alex!  

Canola oil is GMO

Real talk, this junk is one of the most highly processed and genetically modified food products you can find out there.  If you want to avoid GMO’s, then put canola oil up on the top of your list.  If you like to eat out, it’s hard to avoid.  Even at health restaurants. So just ask the server to use butter instead of oil to cook your entrees when you can. Simple fix.  Tell them you’re allergic to dying. Problem solved.

Take a look at the differences between canola oil processing and coconut oil processing below.   Quite a difference, eh?  [images courtesy of Journal of Applied Sciences]

canola coconut oil process