Canola Oil: Yes or No?

I will admit that I never thought much about the canola oil I routinely use for my baking until I asked myself one day, “is there a canola plant”?

Canola oil comes from cross-breeding several types of rape plants. The rape plant is part of the mustard family, along with turnips, cabbage, watercress, horseradish, and radish. Traditional rapeseed oil was used for cooking in Europe, India, and Asia. But it naturally contains a high percentage of erucic acid, a toxic fatty acid. These levels have been reduced significantly through the process of cross-breeding, which replaces the erucic acid with oleic acid (a monounsaturated fat).

This was done by Canadian scientists in the 1970’s and is the origin of the name, canola oil-“Canadian oil, low acid”. They gave this product a new name, so it wouldn’t be associated with the negative aspects of rapeseed oils. Natural rapeseed oil is used in the manufacture of biodiesel in Europe and there have been correlations with breathing problems from inhaling the dust or smoke of the oil.

Americans got their first taste of canola oil in 1986 and have since been bombarded with the many purported health benefits. A few years ago, the FDA gave the O.K. for the health labeling claim that canola oil may reduce the risk of heart disease. This comes from the fact that it has less saturated fat compared to most other oils, has omega-3 polyunsaturated fat, and a high amount of monounsaturated fat. But I still prefer my extra virgin olive oil, especially since there are more studies backing up its health benefits. When I do decide to use canola oil, I chose organic, expeller pressed varieties (such as Spectrum Organic Canola Oil) to reduce my exposure to chemical solvents, pesticides, and genetically-modified varieties.

I know there are numerous opinions on using canola oil. I’d love to hear how you feel about it!

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Dr. Christine Gonzalez

A contributing writer for, a Certified Health Coach, and an Integrative Pharmacist.

She decided to become a health coach, because as a pharmacist, she felt something was missing in her practice, that patients were being treated symptom by symptom and not for overall wellness. She embraces Eastern traditions, and is honored to share with, and support others, on their journeys. Christine trained to be a Certified Health Coach at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

She earned her B.A. in biology at Rutgers University, her Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of California at San Francisco, and is currently studying Western herbology. She finds nourishing, balanced energy in her own life through a dedicated yoga practice, running, and bike riding along the beach in Southern, CA, where she resides.

Dr. Christine Gonzalez

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  1. Anonymous says

    I just purchasd Butter with canola oil to make it easier to spread. What does that due to the health condition? I guess we have deceided that real butter is not good for you either.
    Things get real confusing. What should we use for spread on bread or should we use honey or nothing.


  2. jim.callas says

    Just use organic butter and buy yourself a butter conditioner for your refrigerator which keeps it spreadable. Alternatively spread avocado on your bread Anon.

    As for you, Christine, you are obviously too busy to repsond although you state “I know there are numerous opinions on using canola oil. I’d love to hear how you feel about it!”
    Guess you lose my challenge – so much for “healthier talk”

  3. Anonymous says

    If using Canola/Rapeseed Oil – then it must be the cold pressed variety to reap the benefite – cheaper commercial products as found in most supermarkets is pretty poor stuff

  4. Anonymous says

    I only use Cold Pressed Virgin Olive Oil on my toast.
    And they do recommend to get 3 tablespoons a day of Olive Oil.
    I put it on sandwiches, any think I have for lunch and dinner.

  5. sHAYAM says

    I am using Canola cooking oil …..for the past months…….Canola oil is considered one of the most heart healthy oil as it has the highest ratio of unsaturated to saturated fats.

  6. Mike J. says

    My Partner buys Organic Coconut from the Phillipines,and Organic Hempseed [ though Hempseed in general doesn’t require chemicals to grow ] and Cold Presses them to make some of the finest Edible Oils on the Planet. Coco Butter and jam on your toast or pancakes one day and hempseed oil them the next mmmmm.

  7. Anonymous says

    I am always surprised how much Americans have been brainwashed into thinking that canola oil is acceptable and even “healthy”?!?!?

    >I guess we have deceided that real butter is not good for you either.

    Wrong, butter is healthy, particularly if from unpasteurised, organic milk. See Weston Price website.

    Canola oil is obviously not good for you – it is genetically modified rapeseed oil. That was bad in the first place anyway. Go to the Weston Price website to read more about it.

    What I have noticed when I went to Australia last year is that canola oil is readily available to buy as dietary oil and also contained in 90% of the breads. Of course, GMOs have made a big headway in Australia too over the last few years. I really think there is a strong connection between this fact and the fact that obesity in Australia is now one of the WORST in the WORLD!

    Extra virgin olive oil (beware of adulterations, as uncovered by Australian Custom officials, so organic is best) and raw, unpasteurized organic butter are much better options. Also organic, virgin, unheated, untreated, unbleached, non-deodorized coconut oil has its benefits, among which are medium-chain triglycerides (energy, not fat storage), lauric acid, anti-fungal ingredients and a lot of health-promoting benefits.

  8. Roxx says

    Just recently I received information that Canola Oil was not good for you. Unfortunately, I’ve used it for a lot of years thinking it was good for me. I’ve stopped, but I hope it has not caused any damage.

    What I noticed, Canola oil has a very bad smell when the old oil is stored. Smelling it made me sick to my stomach, that’s how I knew for sure it’s not good for human consumption (organic or not)!

  9. jim.callas says

    To Annonymous on 02/27/2011: Glad to read your comments mate and agree with everything you said. Pity Christine is still MIA.

  10. Murl says

    I believe all oils that contain unsaturation (carbon to carbon double bonds) will rancidify, and smell and taste bad, if left standing long enough. The reactions producing this condition are accelerated by higher storage temperatures and/or exposure to air, and retarded by the addition of antioxidants to the oil.
    Also, canola oil produced today is a product resulting from the rapeseed plants that have been modified to reduce or eliminate the potentially toxic erucic acid found in rapeseed. The canola plant is derived from cross breeding rapeseed and not synthetically genetically modified. The process is not dissimilar from the processes that have produced a wide variety of apples, peaches, roses, and countless other food products and flowers.

  11. AZ93 says

    Thank you Dennie and Mari for being about the only ones with brains on this site. For those of you quoting the Weston price article, please note it is over 10 years old. Further, the Weston price foundation has been condemned by the FDA for putting out false information and for not updating their previous articles with newer scientific facts. There are both benefits and detriments to health in both veg and canola oils. My suggestion to the lesser educated on this site would be to read the most recent information on legitimate sites, and read A LOT, not just one article. Then make your decisions from there. It still amazes me in this day and age with so much information available at your fingertips that people will simply read one article and call themselves experts.
    By the way, quit giving Christine grief about not replying to your drivel. So far none of the whiners have said anything worth replying to.

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