Canola Oil is NOT Good for You (despite popular belief)
- Mel’s weekly food pick: California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Mel’s weekly recipe pick: Loaded Hummus Plate
A descendant of the rapeseed plant, the canola plant was first bred in Canada in the early 1970s. Its name is derived from “Canada” and “ola”, which means oil.
For some reason, society for the most part still collectively believes that canola oil is healthy; don’t worry, I did too! While it is higher in cardio-protective monounsaturated fat, it’s also a highly refined, genetically modified (GMO) vegetable oil that undergoes a 7-step process before hitting the shelves.
Check this out…
Canola oil: Hexane, bleaching, and deodorizing…oh my!
During processing, a chemical solvent such as hexane, is first used to extract the maximum amount of oil from the seed. Hexane comes from petroleum and crude oil and is used as a cleaning agent in the textile and furniture industries. It also doubles as an additive in gas, glue, and varnishes. Yeah…enough said.
After bathing in this toxin (seriously, the EPA considers it an air pollutant, while the CDC classifies hexane as a neurotoxin), canola oil is put through a bleaching process to lighten the color. A deodorization process follows, which removes a large portion of omega-3 fatty acids by turning them into trans fatty acids. The end result is an oxidatively damaged oil, which poses a risk to the health of your body.
But wait, there’s more!
Omega-6 fats (i.e. canola oil) are PRO-inflammatory
Both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats considered “essential” because your body can’t make them. This means you must get them through food or supplementation.
Omega-3 fats—found in seafood and certain plants—have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, while omega-6 fats tend to be pro-inflammatory. This means they promote chronic inflammatory conditions such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, cardiovascular disease, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Remember, omega-6 fatty acids are essential, and if you eat them in the form of unprocessed foods like nuts, seeds, poultry and eggs, you will have no problem.
So what is the problem?
Omega-6 fats are hiding out in TONS of processed food
Omega-6 fatty acids are found in cereal grains, like corn and wheat, and in refined vegetable oils, such as corn, safflower, sunflower, cottonseed, soybean, and yes…canola oil. Read the nutrition label on any processed food, whether it’s a bag of chips, a frozen pizza, or a box of “healthy” cereal, and you will likely see one or more of these pro-inflammatory ingredients.
So if you live on a steady diet of convenience food, you are consuming way more omega-6 fats than you should.
PS: Canola oil is hiding out in many popular brands of hummus. Read your nutrition labels and choose those made with tahini and extra virgin olive oil instead.
Our ancient ancestors did not suffer from inflammatory diseases like we do today
Research from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed omega-6 and omega-3 fats in a ratio of roughly 1:1. It also indicates that both ancient and modern hunter-gatherers did not experience inflammatory diseases.
Ready for a real shocker?
Today, thanks to our standard American diet, we consume a ratio closer to 20:1 (that’s 20 omega-6 fats to 1 omega-3 fat!).
The bottom line: Excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids promote chronic inflammatory conditions. There’s a price to be paid for filling your body with processed and refined foods, while neglecting a relentlessly consistent diet of Earthfoods; it’s called disease! Dis-ease.
What fats should you be eating for better health?
I recommend the following:
- For salads, stews and low-temperature cooking: extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, macadamia oil, walnut oil, almond oil
- Grass-fed butter such as Kerrygold or Organic Valley
- Ghee, or clarified butter (good for high-heat cooking)
- Unrefined coconut oil
- Nuts: almonds, walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, pistachios, hazelnuts
- Seeds: sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds
- Nut and seed butters
- Fatty fish like sardines, mackerel, herring, wild salmon
- Tahini (sesame seed paste)
- MCT oil (medium chain triglyceride)
Mel’s weekly food pick:
California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is essentially “olive juice”. It’s the oil extracted from the olive– that’s it! Unlike canola and other highly processed oils, no solvents or chemicals are used in its production.
EVOO is high in heart and brain-protective monounsaturated fats and contains polyphenols, which act as antioxidants, reducing oxidative stress throughout your body.
To protect from light, which can deteriorate the quality of the antioxidants, choose EVOO in dark bottles and store away from heat. For best quality, it’s suggested to use within 30-60 days once opened.
Don’t be fooled by the lingo on the front of the bottle– olive oil labeled as “Light” or “Pure” are refined, meaning heat and/or chemicals are used in the process of extracting the oil.
Founded in 1998, California Olive Ranch offers a variety of high quality, great tasting extra virgin olive oils, ranging from mild to peppery. They’ve pioneered new ways of cultivating and harvesting olives in order to make their extra virgin olive oil premium and affordable. All of their products are certified by Applied Sensory and California Olive Oil Council (COOC).
Their Everyday Extra Virgin Olive Oil has notes of fresh herbs, fruit and green grass, and is recommended for everyday use in dressings, dips, cold dishes, and low heat cooking. California Olive Ranch offer some pretty amazing recipes on their website too, so check them out!