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There’s a lot of confusion out there about cooking oils. In recent years, we were encouraged to use vegetable oils, with canola oil at the top of the list, since they are high in unsaturated fats and low in the saturated ones.
However, saturated fat content doesn’t tell the whole nutrition story. And, in fact, canola oil is NOT the best oil to use for several reasons. Want to get the scoop on why this oil may be causing you health issues?
Read on for the concerns about this popular oil and discover healthy substitutes for canola oil.
What is Canola Oil?
This neutral tasting oil comes from crushing the seeds of the canola plant.
The canola plant, however, originated as the rapeseed plant. That plant contains toxic compounds, making it unsafe for consumption. Canadian scientists learned to remove those toxic compounds through the targeted cross breeding of plants and came up with the canola plant, so named for Canada – can, and oil – ola. Most canola crops are also genetically modified (GMO). GMO products can create inflammation in the body.
Extracting oil from the canola plant is a long process that includes using chemical solvents such as hexane or a combination of chloroform and methanol. That extraction step removes most polyphenols, a healthy compound that promotes longevity.
The high heat used during the process can also affect the stability of the oil’s molecules, turning it rancid and destroying the omega-3s. The addition of synthetic antioxidants increases shelf life.
Canola oil may also contain small amounts of trans fats, which can lead to harmful effects on health.
How Canola Oil Can Impact Health
Canola oil can impact health in negative ways.
Those synthetic antioxidants, which include BHA, BHT and TBHQ, when consumed over time are toxic and carcinogenic.
Canola oil contains a high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory, while consuming too much omega-6 contributes to inflammation and cardiovascular disease. Canola oil’s ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is 2:1, adding to the overconsumption of omega-6s that’s common in the typical American diet. Most in the US consume these two fatty acids in a 20:1 ratio.
The spike in inflammation that canola oil can cause contributes to many chronic disorders such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and colitis.
Recent studies show that canola oil can cause impairment in cognitive function and memory. Plus it can worsen hypertensions and damage blood vessel function, especially when the oil is combined with salt when frying foods.
Beware of studies and reports claiming canola oil is a healthy oil to use. Most of those are funded by the Canada and US Canola Associations. There are better oils to use.
Healthy Substitutes for Canola Oil
Try one of these oils, if using oil is a part of your diet.
Use sesame oil to sauté veggies or add to marinades and dressings. It comes from sesame seeds and is one of the earliest known crop based oils.
Health benefits include anti-inflammatory properties, boosts heart health and protects skin from sun damage.
Made from the pulp of the avocado, this oil is rich in oleic acid, a healthy omega-9 fatty acid. Use avocado oil as a high heat cooking and frying option and in baking.
Benefits include reduces cholesterol and improves heart health, supports eye health, enhances the absorption of nutrients and reduces symptoms of arthritis.
Made from peanuts, this oil is ideal for cooking at high temperatures. It’s high in unsaturated fats, antioxidants and phytosterols, a plant compound that blocks the absorption of cholesterol from foods.
Highly refined peanut oil is free from the allergen that causes a reaction. However, if you have a peanut allergy, do not use cold-pressed, expelled or extruded peanut oil. Always ask your health care provider for guidance.
Health benefits include lowers bad cholesterol, reduces risks for heart disease and strokes and maintains immune system and metabolism.
Coconut oil comes from the coconut palm fruit. It’s a white solid fat that melts easily at room temperature, turning into a clear liquid. Use for frying, baking and DIY skincare and haircare recipes.
Coconut oil contains rich fatty acids and antioxidants.
Health benefits include fights against Alzheimer’s, reduces risks for heart disease, boosts liver health and energy and aids digestion.
This oil is made from ground flax seeds. Use for cooking, dressings, sauces and frying and also as an ingredient in DIY skincare recipes. Flaxseed oil is high in omega-3s.
Benefits include reduces inflammation, improves heart and skin health, lowers blood pressure and may help reduce cancer cell growth.
Pumpkin Seed Oil
Also called pepita oil, this rust colored oil is extracted from pumpkin seeds. It’s versatile as a cooking oil and also as a supplement. And it’s rich in nutrients, fatty acids and phytoserols.
Health benefits include lowers cholesterol, eases symptoms of an enlarged prostate, lowers high blood pressure, eases menopausal symptoms and improves urinary tract health.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
This well known oil comes from olives. Use it for cooking, frying, baking and salad dressings.
Look for cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil as it is the least processed and often considered the healthiest oil to use. It contains heart healthy fats and antioxidants and possesses a rich flavor.
Health benefits include anti-inflammatory properties, supports heart health, promotes longevity, helps manage blood clotting, lowers blood pressure, lowers the risk of cancer and reduces the risk of dementia and cognitive decline.
Which Oil Do You Use?
If you prefer not to use oils, you can substitute applesauce or mashed bananas in baking recipes. Use a small amount of water or vegetable broth when sautéing.
I’ve lightly used olive oil, since going plant based. However, since embracing the Blue Zones lifestyle, I use more than I used to, and love it. Look for the best quality cold pressed olive oil, for the most health benefits.
Do you use oils? Which is your favorite to use?
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I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.
One thought on “Healthy Substitutes for Canola Oil”
I am so thankful Canola Oil was never really used in my family/upbringing. We use mainly Avocado oil or Olive oil at home.
So many important health facts here.