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Interesting Information: Canola Oil and Toxic Erucic Acid

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Interesting Information:  April 19, 2012

Canola Oil and Toxic Erucic Acid

Canola oil is the “go to” oil for almost everyone now.  Because it does not have a strong taste–as it’s highly processed–it gets put into salad dressings, baked goods, and cooked with in all kinds of ways.

Loren Cordain, the modern “father” of the Paleo diet research, has withdrawn his support of canola oil, which he allowed in the 2002 original version of his THE PALEO COOKBOOK.

Here’s the excerpt explaining why (22-23):

Since the publication of the first edition of THE PALEO DIET in 2002, I have reversed my position on canola oil and can no longer endorse its consumption.  Canola oil comes from the seeds of the rape plant (Brassica rapa or Brassica campestris), which is a relative of the broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and kale family.  Undoubtedly, humans have eaten cabbage and its relatives since before historical times, and I still strongly support the consumption of these health-promoting vegetables.  Nevertheless, the concentrated oil from Brassica is another story.

In its original form, rape plants produced a seed oil that contained elevated levels (20-50 percent) of erucic acid (a monounsaturated fatty acid labeled 22:1n9).  Erucic acid is toxic and causes tissue damage in many organs of laboratory animals.  In the early 1970s, Canadian plant breeders developed a strain of rape plant that yielded a seed with less than 2 percent erucic acid (thus the name canola oil).

The erucic acid content of commercially available canola oil averages 0.6 percent.  Despite its low erucic acid content, a number of experiments in the 1970s showed that even at low concentrations (2.0 and 0.88 percent), canola oil fed to rats could still elicit minor heart scarring that was considered pathological.  A series of recent rat studies of low-erucic canola oil conducted by Dr. Ohara and colleagues at the Hatano Research Institute in Japan reported kidney injuries, increases in blood sodium levels, and abnormal changes in the hormone aldosterone, which regulates blood pressure.

Other harmful effects of canola oil consumption in animals (at 10 percent of their total calories) included decreased litter sizes, behavioral changes, and liver damage.  A number of recent human studies of canola and rapeseed oil by Dr. Poiikonen and colleagues at the University of Tempere in Finland showed it to be a potent allergen in adults and children that causes allergic cross-reactions from other environmental allergens.  Based on these brand-new findings in both humans and animals, I prefer to err on the safe side and can no longer recommend canola oil in the modern-day Paleo Diet.

Cordain goes on to say that olive oil has “less than positive omega 6 to omega 3 ratios–11 to 7.  So, excessive consumption without enough long-chain omega 3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) will “derail an otherwise healthy diet.”

The Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) has long warned that all of the highly-processed vegetable oils cause heart disease.

I use high-quality (centrifuge extracted) coconut oil to saute or bake.  Or, tallow or lard if I can get it.   If I’ve got chicken fat on top of my broth, I use that to sweat out vegetables for a soup using the broth.  I reserve high-quality olive oil for salad dressings.  I use rendered duck fat to pan fry potatoes for a special treat–and they are beyond delicious!  It’s pretty safe to say that I rarely, rarely deep-fry anything.  I think the last time was some doughnuts, but I’ve since learned more about fats.

I’m not above eating the very occasional homemade doughnut when breakfasting out, however.  The are delicious.  And, addictive.

Written by louisaenright

April 19, 2012 at 1:52 pm

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  1. […] highly processed–it gets put into salad dressings, … … Go here to see the original: Interesting Information: Canola Oil and Toxic Erucic Acid « Louisa … ← Savory Gruyere and Corn Relish Bread Pudding Recipe … Chicken Fried Turkey […]


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