Canola Oil: The Health Hazard in Your Pantry

Originally known as rapeseed oil, a derivative of the rapeseed plant, canola was renamed in 1978 to disassociate the oil with the word "rape" and its darker affiliations. A literal combination of the words "Canada" and "oil", canola oil surfaced in Canada and quickly found a niche in the United States as a cheaper alternative to olive oil. Tasteless, easy to make, and genetically modified, canola oil flew off the shelves, into our homes, and crept with even greater stealth into virtually every packaged and fast food on the market. Even foods claiming to contain olive oil often possess canola oil in addition. Similarly, in cases where labels read "contains either: canola, olive, or safflower/sunflower oil", you can bet your dollar it contains canola. It's the least expensive option out there, and it's a big moneymaker for the US. Altered so that it no longer contains high levels of erucic acid (a toxic substance connected to various heart issues), Canola oil is touted as "the healthiest salad and cooking oil available to consumers." It is promoted as being:

  • low in saturated fats (which recent studies are showing we need more of rather than less if we wish to preserve our brain and nervous health)
  • high in monounsaturated fatty acids
  • rich in omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids

What they don't tell you is that the FDA prohibited canola oil consumption by infants, banning it from all infant formula. They recently retracted this ban in 2013, now allowing up to 31% of the oil's fats in the formula. The FDA considers canola oil generally safe and a good source of ALA, an important acid for growth and development. They couldn't be farther from the truth. Canola oil has been linked to health issues such as:

  • blood clotting
  • stilted growth
  • tremors
  • lack of coordination
  • memory issues
  • slurred speech
  • numbness
  • tingling in hands and feet
  • altered/accelerated heartbeats
  • heart lesions
  • severe vitamin E deficiencies
  • inhibited enzyme function
  • slowed metabolism
  • blood platelet abnormalities
  • multiple sclerosis
  • free radical damage (often linked to cancer)
  • respiratory illness
  • blindness
  • anemia
  • irritability in infants
  • low birth weights
  • fatty deposits on the thyroid, kidneys, heart, and adrenal glands
  • depressed immune function
  • and more.

Even worse, canola oil is practically everywhere, and unless your diet consists of all-organic foods, there's a large chance you have some sitting in your closet or pantry, hidden away in the ingredient lists in packaged and processed foods. It's hard to avoid, but not impossible. Ways to avoid canola include: switching to healthier cooking oils. If you're thinking of corn, vegetable, safflower, sunflower, or soy oils, think again. These all have their own lists of health issues and side effects, and most are made from GMOs. A few safe, high-quality options include:

  • olive oil
  • coconut oil
  • pastured butter
  • sesame oil
  • flaxseed oil
  • avocado oil
  • red palm oil

You want to make sure your oils are GMO-free, and either cold-pressed or extra-virgin. This basically ensures they are unprocessed and in the most natural form available. If you can afford to pay a little extra for organic, that ensures an even higher quality and supply. 

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Please note: 

We do not directly or indirectly give medical advice or prescribe through alternative treatment. We recommend that people contact their doctor if they need a medical diagnosis. We assume no responsibility if anyone decides to use this information, which is of historical value, for they are choosing to prescribe for themselves. Healing is sometimes a slow process, and we suggest that you do not stop taking any medications without the guidance of a doctor.

Dr. Josh Axe. "Stop Using Canola Oil Immediately." No date.< > Accessed 26 June, 2014.Cindie Leonard. "There is the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly." 16 July, 2009.< > Accessed 26 June, 2014.

Sally Fallon & Mary G. Enig. "The Great Con-Ola." 28 July, 2002.< > Accessed 26 June, 2014

Shona Bates. "Side Effects Result from the Consumption of Canola Products." 2 March, 2011.< > Accessed 26 June, 2014.