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Is It Safe to Use Canola Oil?

There has been a long-standing debate concerning canola oil and its benefits – or lack thereof. Some people believe it contains many healthful benefits while many others avoid it strictly. These varied points of view can be very confusing to people who want to use a healthful and wholesome kind of oil for cooking. A research claims that canola oil is quite toxic (though it is uncertain whether or not it causes mad-cow disease or blindness), while many supporters believe canola oil to be one of the healthiest – claiming that it is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and oleic acid. Canola oil is often mixed with olive oil. Instead of 100% olive oil dressing, your favorite restaurant might just be serving a mixture of canola and low-quality olive oil. So before investing in the so-called heart-healthy oil, let’s take a look and see whether it’s safe to use canola oil after all.

What is Canola Oil?

Canola oil, an abbreviation of ‘Canadian light oil’, is extracted from the rapeseed plant. In terms of taste, it is mild with a light, pleasant flavor, making it good for dressing salads, frying, and cooking. Canola oil has been used in the industrial sector for a long time, especially in the production of soaps, candles, lipsticks, inks, lubricants, and insecticides. In later years, researchers devised a way to genetically modify rapeseed oil. The result was canola oil which they claimed to be rich in unsaturated fats and other vital nutrients. However, one should know that more and more recent studies have proven that canola oil is bad for our health.

No Canola Plant:

Before you believe in hearsay, bear in mind that there is no such thing as a canola plant. Unlike corn, sunflower, mustard, or soy oils, canola oil does not come from a plant. And even though canola oil is taken from rapeseed, the process involved is terribly complicated. Since rapeseed oil is extremely odorous, it has to undergo chemical processing with hexane. Hexane is the gaseous part of gasoline and, yes, it is flammable. Like many refined oils, canola oil is liquid fat due to its high-calorie content and thus, best used in moderation.

Hydrogenated Oil:

Hydrogenated oil is undoubtedly bad for our health. Canola oil is a prime example of how hydrogenated oils can harm your body. The process that all modern-day hydrogenated oils go through involves pressing, refining, bleaching, and finally, degumming. The process also involves very high temperatures and often, questionable standards of safety. Also, as mentioned above, the Omega-3 fatty acids in rapeseed oil becomes foul-smelling and rancid when brought in contact with oxygen and high temperatures. It requires a deodorizing process which changes the healthy acids into trans-fat – the bad kind of fats. Containing almost zero nutritional value, canola, a hydrogenated oil, is one of the worst kinds of oil to use.

Health Troubles:

Consumption of canola oil not only raises the triglyceride levels in your body by more than 40% but also depletes its vitamin E levels. Some studies have also found that canola oil shortens the lifespan of animals, while in humans, it decreases the platelet count and increases the chance of lung cancer. Additionally, canola oil makes the membranes of one’s body more rigid, increasing the chances of degenerative diseases. It also inhibits proper enzyme functioning and invites free radicals to attack the body, harming the naturally occurring antioxidants in good, healthy food.

Healthier Choice:

Frankly, if one needs a healthier choice of oil to consume, the best bet would be to choose organic oils such as coconut, grape seed, mustard, and olive oil. Not only are they safe for consumption but also chock-full of nutrients that actually aid the body in many ways. Both grape seed and coconut oils have high smoking points and can be used from deep-frying to salad dressings. It isn’t advisable to use olive oil for frying due to its low smoking point. It is best for dressing salads and drizzling on bread.

Remember that canola oil often hides in plain sight among healthier oils especially in supermarkets and whole food sections. It is up to you to choose which oil is best suited to your taste and needs. But better skip that canister of canola oil at your local grocer’s. Many fast food places, bakeries, and restaurants also use canola oil in place of healthier oils. Please check with them, and ask questions if you have to. Your health should be a priority at all times!

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