Canola oil Because of the public scare over animal fats, sales of vegetable oils of all types increased. It was the established wisdom that those oils high in polyunsaturated fatty acids were especially beneficial (animal fats are high in saturated fatty acids). The obsession with polyunsaturated versus saturated fats led researchers and nutritionists to overlook some of the other features of vegetable oils that we now know are crucial to health, including:
(1) susceptibility to rancidity;
(2) ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids and its relevance in inflammatory diseases and immune system function;
(3) possible presence of irritating or toxic compounds in particular plant oils. Unlike the case of trans-fatty acids, for which there is a massive amount of research data, there is much less documented scientific research on canola oil consumption in humans, specifically. Some sources (unverified) claim that the Canadian government and industry paid the U.S. FDA $50 million dollars to have canola oil placed on the GRAS ("Generally Recognized As Safe") list, which allowed the canola industry to avoid the lengthy and expensive approval process, including medical research on humans. However, experimental rats that were fed canola oil "developed fatty degeneration of the heart, kidney, adrenals, and thyroid gland. On withdrawing the canola oil from their diets, the deposits dissolved but scar tissue remained on all vital organs." [ref. 3a] In the absence of direct research studies of canola oil and human health, many concerned nutritionists and biochemists have attempted to analyze the canola oil situation on the basis of current knowledge of the biochemistry of fats and oils. While hard-nosed canola industry spokespersons may claim such commentary to be speculative, in the absence of proof of safety, anyone concerned about their family's health should pay close attention to the various arguments and warnings. [refs. 3a - 3i; for canola industry position, see refs. 3j, 3k] The Canola Council of Canada has published a report [ref. 3k] that focuses heavily on the high polyunsaturated fatty acid content of canola oil and the presumed benefits of polyunsaturated oils on various blood parameters (platelet phospholipids, platelet aggregation, eicosanoid production, clotting time). In spite of the many scientific references listed at the end of the report, the author studiously avoids discussion of the toxic effects mentioned by many nutritionists and biochemists, and, instead, attempts to link many of the benefits of Mediterranean-type diets high in olive oil to diets high in canola oil, when in fact, no such evidence is presented, and canola oil has never been part of a traditional Mediterranean diet. Concerns about the risks of using canola (rapeseed) oil focus on several aspects:
(1) the presence of long-chain fatty acids, including erucic acid, which are thought by some to cause CNS degeneration, heart disease, and cancer;
(2) the high temperatures needed in the refining process to make canola oil palatable, which lead to formation of trans-fatty acids;
(3) miscellaneous undesirable chemical constituents (thioglycosides and thiocyanates) whose effects are unclear, as their concentration in the refined product is probably very low. Although Chinese and Indian peoples have long used rapeseed oil in cooking, it was not refined and processed to the extent of modern commercial methods, and it was never considered to be a high quality oil for human consumption. Ayurvedic physicians have for thousands of years classified olive, almond, and sesame as the best oils for human health, and have considered safflower, soybean and rapeseed oils to be undesirable for human consumption except perhaps when no other oil sources were available. Recent epidemiological studies of high lung cancer rates in Chinese women suggest that wok cooking with rapeseed oil is responsible, rather than tobacco smoking, which was only a weak factor. Chinese rapeseed oil tended to produce the highest emissions of the potentially carcinogenic or mutagenic compounds 1,3-butadiene, benzene, acrolein, and formaldehyde, when compared with soybean oil and peanut oil. [ref. 3n] Canola oil contains a long-chain fatty acid called erucic acid, which is especially irritating to mucous membranes; canola oil consumption has been correlated with development of fibrotic lesions of the heart, CNS degenerative disorders, lung cancer, and prostate cancer, anemia, and constipation. [ref. 3a, 3b] Canola oil derives from the plants Brassica campestris and B. napus, which have been selectively bred to substantially reduce the erucic acid content. However, some health professionals feel that there is still too much present in current canola oil products for safe use. Some critics of canola oil focus on the fact that rapeseed oil was originally used as an industrial lubricant and known to be unfit for human consumption, although many vegetable oils have been used in industrial applications as well as in foods. The long-chain fatty acids found in canola have been found to destroy the sphingomyelin surrounding nerve cells in the brain, in some cases leading to a degenerative brain condition remarkably similar to mad-cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy); in advanced cases the brain tissue develops a Swiss-cheese-like appearance, full of holes. Illnesses and conditions that have been associated with canola oil consumption include loss of vision (retinal capillaries are very sensitive and easily damaged), and a wide range of neurological disorders. [ref. 3a] The high temperatures used in canola refining will damage many of the essential fatty acids, which are much more susceptible to damage by heat than saturated fats. (Heat may convert many of the unsaturated double bonds to the "trans" configuration.) While high-quality essential fatty acids are required for human health, in their damaged or rancid forms they become harmful. Additional problems with canola oil include the presence of minute, but potentially dangerous, amounts of thioglycosides, which have thyrotoxic effects. [ref. 3m] To reduce the concentration of these compounds requires processing with alkalinizing agents plus high temperatures; unfortunately, the high temperatures used in processing have other undesirable effects, the most serious of which is the conversion of unsaturated fats to the trans form. Rapeseed has been selectively bred and genetically engineered [ref. 3a] in an attempt to reduce the toxic components and processing methods were developed to further reduce the concentration of undesirable compounds. Prior to its entry into the "health" food market, it was known as rapeseed oil, but savvy marketing professionals knew that the health food market, heavily dominated by young, college-educated women, would not purchase a repulsive-sounding product called rapeseed oil. The name of the selectively bred variety was changed to canola (as in "Canadian oil"; it has been heavily promoted by Canadian government and agricultural organizations) oil; the name rolls off the tongue with a mellifluous sound. [3.1] Recommendations The biochemistry of plants and natural food products is often complex; the total effect of a given food on human health is dependent upon many chemical constituents and their interaction with biochemical pathways of the body. To radically alter our diets based on scientific evidence regarding only a few aspects of this biochemistry is like cooking in the dark. Common symptom reactions to unhealthy oils and fats, or to an unhealthy balance of the types of fats in one's diet include joint pain and aggravation of arthritic conditions, a general tendency to have increased tissue irritability and inflammation, and, in the case of unhealthy fats such as hydrogenated oils and excessive amounts of fried foods, abdominal fullness and indigestion. While these conditions also may be due to other factors, quality of fats and oils is important. How one feels immediately to within several days after eating specific types of fat is often a useful indicator of whether one's fat consumption is healthy or unhealthy. Avoid canola oil; there is too much doubt about its safety. Recommended oils and fats, which are essential nutrients, include moderate amounts of meat in the form of clean sources (organically grown, etc.) of beef, lamb, and other red meats, poultry, fish (especially sardines and mackerel), plus olive, almond, or sesame oil; of all the vegetable oils, olive oil is probably the safest and best for health reasons. All of these have been in traditional use in various cultures for thousands of years. Individual differences in metabolism will dictate needs for more or less of these types of oils and fats.
An attorney for the Canola people sent Breathing.com the below in green.
"If you read down into this page you will see a number of links to other independent and very reputable Websites (the Cancer Association, American Society of Science and Health, Washington Post, Health Central and others) that refute the claims made on this page."
I personally would not believe much of anything from the Cancer Society.
A forwarded email:
"I know you wouldn't want to make irresponsible claims so I'm providing you with this information: Although canola oil is not a favorite oil with me for a number of reasons (none of which were listed in the article), the statement suggesting that because it is used as an industrial oil it is therefore not edible is not valid. Flax oil is also used as an industrial oil for paint and linoleum, etc. But when it is prepared as a food it is edible. Most oils have been used at one time or another as industrial products. One of the most edible oils, coconut oil, is used for many industrial products, especially for soaps and cosmetics. Olive oil apparently has been used to make soap for as long as it has been used as a food oil. Perhaps the most blatant error and comparison made by Mr. Lynn, though, is that regarding canola oil and mustard gas, which chemically has absolutely no relationship to mustard oil or any other mustard plant. Mustard gas is 2,2'-dichlorodiethyl sulfide and its preparation using ethylene and sulfur chloride is given in the Merck Index. It received its name because of the yellowish color of the gas and the sulfur odor. Canola and regular rapeseed oils are extracted from the seeds of several of the brassica plants - the same family of plants from which we get vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, kale, mustard greens, and several other vegetables. Of course, there is not much fat in these vegetables; but what fat there is in some of them, e.g., mustard greens, is as much as 29 percent erucic acid. Also, since glycosides (typical are stevioside and other flavonoids) are basically water soluble, I would not expect to find much of them in any oil. Those glucosinolates found in rapeseed meal after the oil has removed from the seeds are the same goitrogens that are found in the brassica vegetables. One problem with canola oil is that it has to be partially hydrogenated or refined before it is used commercially and consequently is a source of trans fatty acids; sometimes they are very high levels. Another problem is that it is too unsaturated to be used exclusively in the diet; some of the undesirable effects caused by feeding canola can be rectified if the diet is made higher in saturated fatty acids. Mary G. Enig, Ph.D., Director Nutritional Sciences Division Enig Associates, Inc. email@example.com FAX:(301)680-8100"
GE canola class action suit moves forward in Canada
Court to hear GE canola class action suit arguments
Pesticide & Toxic Chemical News, October 28, 2004 Vol. 6, No. 209
An attempt by organic farmers in Saskatchewan, Canada, to file a class action suit against developers of genetically engineered canola moves into a courtroom in early November.
Justice Gene-Ann Smith of the Court of Queen's Bench in Saskatoon will hear lawyers representing Monsanto Canada, Bayer Crop Science and two organic growers argue the merits of the suit. Class actions are relatively new in Canada, and the plaintiff has to convince the court the action should be allowed to go forward. If the judge agrees to certify the suit, then a trial would be held later.
Farmers Larry Hoffman and Dale Beaudoin, on behalf of a group called the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate, want to be able to sue Monsanto and Bayer for an as-yet-undetermined amount in compensation for being unable to grow organic canola. They say the companies' GE varieties spread into fields of conventional canola, making it almost impossible to grow and sell organic canola that must be free of GE seeds.
Monsanto spokeswoman Trish Jordan said her company will argue that the suit should be dismissed. She said the farmers are being put forward by the Directorate, Greenpeace, and the British Soils Association "as a platform to advance their anti-GE position in the public arena and this is not an appropriate use of the court's time and resources. These groups are engaging in a scientific, social and political debate concerning GE foods rather than having a legitimate legal dispute."
Recent june 08 email. "Thank you for your web article on rapeseed oil.
I want to tell you about one of my experiences concerning cottonseed oil.
I am terribly allergic to cottonseed oil (have had the checkerboard tests on my back and back of arms twice in my life to confirm this), and my allergist told me that one in five people are allergic to cottonseed oil yet no companies place any warnings on their product to indicate that cottonseed is in the product. I could die if I got a dose of cottonseed oil!
Neosporin has put cottonseed oil in their regular antibacterial ointment. I learned this the hard way back in November 2004. My skin turned crimson red and began to itch terrible when I applied Neosporin ointment to a minor burn. I washed the Neosporin off but the skin continued to itch and remained very red. It finally calmed down, the burn healed completely in a couple of weeks, but for a full year after the burn was completely healed I still had that same patch of skin flare up on me from time to time, and go crimson red and itch. It was a reaction to the Neosporin that I applied way back in November 2004 yet I was still having a reaction in November 2005.
Reading about Canola, rapeseed oil, and how animals get angry after being fed this oil makes me wonder if it has the same psychological effect on humans? Has anyone done any research on canola, rapeseed oil in the diet and the reactions humans have after digesting it?
Recommendations from Mike
Dr. Doug Graham states that "oils in general inhibit nutrient absorption in the small intestine".
Because the lungs need for essential fatty acids in the oxidation relationship and are a lot of what make up surfactants in your lungs I have to encourage you to eat oils in some form.
All the above is very controversial and very time consuming to prove or disprove so with all the oil choices out there why take chances? If you must use oils.
Pure Olive oil only. Bariani (Sacramento California area) is a good one. Safflower and Sunflower oils are OK, but they contain Omega 6 which may or may not be not a good option for the heart or the myelin sheaths. ProEFA or UDO's choice are real good ones for balanced EFAs.
Reject any foods, packaged or otherwise, which have in the label "...may contain vegetable oil, cottonseed, canola oil.." And if the label just says vegetable oil, I reject it since it does not specify which oil.
Thought you might find this interesting. I received this information from Dr. Andrew Weil. He said "that despite the scare stories, canola oil is not toxic. I suspect that your Internet informant might be confusing two varieties of the rapeseed plant (Brassica napus). Oils from the original rapeseed plant, a member of the mustard family, have been used as industrial lubricants. Rapeseed oil contains very high levels of a potentially heart-damaging compound called erucic acid, so plant scientists created a low-erucic-acid hybrid they called "canola" for use in cooking. (Most food-oil plants, including flax, peanut, corn, soy and sunflower, have been similarily crossbred to produce varieties with greater or lesser amounts of certain fatty acids, so this process is not uncommon) By federal regulation, canola oils can contain no more than 2 percent erucic acid: most varieties contain far less. Organic (unsprayed and not genetically modified), expeller-pressed canola oil is a moderately healthy oil that can be used for cooking when olive oil is not appropriate. It is mostly monounsaturated fat, with less saturated fat than olive oil and some omega-3 fatty acids." So how do we tell if it is not genetically engineered and safe? Any suggestions? Thanks for your help, J. McG...
What puzzles me is that with all the really good and safe oils out there you are paying so much attention to canola. I think it is bad. Genetic engineering scares me. I care not so much what Andrew Weil says about it because as good as Andrew is, the medical model in general has a much wider tolerance of toxicity then I am comfortable with. So with any doubts I just go to what is safe and sound. Federal laws give me even less security or a sense of rational safety. Study prescription drug side effects to learn more about that.
Get Bariani olive oil
or Udo Erasmus' EFAs and be pretty safe and sure. Or for Essential Fatty Acid oil
May 3, 2012 - Dear Mike: I would like to tell you about my experiences with canola oil. It took me five months to track down the culprit after having these symptoms for the first three of those months:
I woke between three and five every morning with a pounding heart, swollen hands, and tingly fingers and toes. I used to get up and sit rocking and/or reading because I was so frightened. It took until nearly noon for the symptoms to subside. I had difficulty concentrating and gradually became uninterested in what used to be exciting for me to do.
Finally I went to a doctor who, after little medical history and only the one BP test, declared I had HBP and prescribed a very potent and (to my mind after researching it with all my chemical allergies) a problematic medication.
Instead of filling it, I thought back to when I felt well and tried to determine what I had been doing differently since then. The answer came back that I had replaced butter and other fats and oils with canola oil because it was advertised widely here in Canada as "heart healthy"
I decided to eliminate it entirely and did I get a shock when I discovered how many items I would no longer be buying! After being off it for a couple of months with no early morning wakings I realized it had been the problem.
I missed bread so much I phoned baker after baker until I finally found an Italian one that used no oil in the recipe and baked the loaves on an unsprayed board.
I haven't eaten out in four years and never try food at bazaars, etc. It is a real hardship, especially now that I read that canola oil is being touted as fertilizer for potatoes. If that happens and its use becomes common I will be in a real pickle. At least with ingredient lists I can shop wisely, but fresh veggies.
I had a 24-hour reaction on Saturday afternoon after eating hothouse tomatoes in my salad. The same old troubles with the addition of weak legs, so no tomatoes for two more days and then a half one yesterday. I woke this morning with a strong heartbeat, swollen hands, tingly toes, and weak legs; symptoms which were gone by noon this time. So I suppose that producer is using oil as fertilizer.
Don't let anyone tell you canola oil is safe. at least not for everyone. Just like with peanuts and citrus, somebody is sure to react to it.
I don't know how to put the message out there though. The canola lobby is so loud and well-financed.
Evelyn Capps, Edmonton, Canada