If you have ever checked out our recipes or followed any of our programs, you’ve probably noticed that canola oil is never used as an ingredient.

This extremely popular cooking fat, high in monounsaturated fat (known as monos or MUFAs), is still seen  as a nutritious option in magazines and the media.

That’s because research has shown that MUFAs, a cornerstone of the heart healthy Mediterranean diet, keep arteries supple, fight inflammation and also keep skin healthy. In addition to olives and olive oil, MUFAs are also found in sesame oil, nuts and seeds, and avocados, fatty fish – and canola oil.

So why, you may ask, are we not in favor of this “heart healthy” oil?

Let us explain.

Canola oil, which comes from a rapeseed plant, was first created in the early 1970s in Canada and was originally known as rapeseed oil (no surprise that the original name was eventually changed).

In 1995, Monsanto created a genetically modified version of rapeseed oil. To avoid the negative connotation of the word rape, they renamed it Canola, a hybrid of the words Canada and oil.

The genetic modification was originally done to replace a type of fatty acid in the rapeseed plant called erucic acid, which has been shown to have damaging effects on the hearts of test animals. So they replaced it with oleic acid, the monounsaturated fat found in olive oil.

So what’s the problem?

Aside from the fact that over 90% of the canola oil in this country comes from GMO crops (more on this in another blog post), of just as much concern is the alarming methods used to create the oil before it reaches your supermarket shelf.

You can see this in action by viewing this video.  Ironically, it is NOT meant to discredit canola oil, but is from a science show called “How It’s Made” that explains/shows exactly how things are made. Warning: viewer discretion is advised. 

Subjecting oil to high temps and chemicals is done in order stabilize the fat and extend its shelf life. FYI, most vegetable oils such as corn oil, safflower oil, and soybean oil all go through an intense chemical and refining process, rendering a product that is inflammatory and damaging to our health. Not to mention they are also high in the omega 6 fats, which when eaten in excess also create inflammation. For those reasons, we encourage our clients to reduce or avoid these oils as much as possible, which are also found lurking in most baked goods and processed foods (just check your labels and look at the ingredients lists and you will see them everywhere).

As with most things, we are partial to fats that have not been blasted with heat or washed with chemicals, but in their more natural state. These include olive oil, coconut oil, and ghee. Other good options include avocado oil, walnut oil, flaxseed oil, macadamia oil, and small amounts of unrefined sesame oil.  Be sure to look for labels that state unrefined and/or cold pressed (meaning no chemicals or high heat used). Oh and if you tolerate dairy, we like Kerry Gold grass fed butter.

Let us know – what oils do you use? Have you been tricked into thinking canola oil is a healthy choice?