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Canola Oil

Updated: Dec 20, 2022




Is canola oil good or bad for you? Is it the same as rapeseed oil? It's one of the cheapest oils you can buy, and is being used more and more in processed food. It is probably genetically engineered, and if you heat it to a high temperature, it can form products harmful to your health, e.g. aldehydes.


In its refined form that you buy in the supermarket, the nutrients would not be significant. Read this comprehensive article about canola oil.


Any oil that has to go through a lot of processing before the oil is extracted is likely to be less beneficial for you. Canola oil is a case in point: it has to go through so many long chemical processes, as the article above outlines. Ideally, any oil you buy would be less refined, fresh and organic, and you would not heat it very much if at all.


Oils for cooking

Oils we suggest for cooking are coconut oil, ghee, avocado oil or, to a low temperature, butter or olive oil.



Oils for eating raw

Oils we suggest for eating raw are flaxseed, hempseed, extra virgin olive, walnut. It is better to minimise your cooking with oils, and avoid using polyunsaturated oils such as 'vegetable oil'.


 

What about rice bran oil?

Rice bran oil does seem to have the advantage of a higher smoking point, 232C, compared to other oils, and it has an even balance of polyunsaturated, monosaturated and saturated. However the proviso remains that the higher you heat the oil to, the more likely that harmful compounds could be formed, especially from the polyunsaturated components. I would recommend saturated oils over rice bran.



What temperature is too high?

Aldehydes are lower in canola oil than coconut oil at 180C (optimum deep frying temperature), however another chemical acrolein is higher in canola oil, and this has the potential to cause indoor pollution problems. One conclusion I would draw from this is that the higher the temperature, the worse it gets, and this is especially true for polyunsaturated oils.


What is a healthier alternative to frying?

If you have the luxury of having an air fryer at home, this does seem to be a good solution for the dilemma of 1) using too much oil and 2) using an oil which is harmful for your health.

 

Written by Alison White, Safe Food Campaign NZ June 2020

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