I generally don’t like to tell people to eliminate things in their diets. My approach is really to allow anything as long as the “bad” stuff is kept to moderation. But when it comes to canola oil, please, I beg you, throw it out ASAP. It is absolutely astonishing to me that this product exists and is legal to be sold.
Here’s why: Canola oil was developed in the 70s by genetically modifying the rapeseed through plant breeding manipulation. The main incentive was to create oil that is less costly. The result however was refined, highly hydrogenated oil.
Hydrogenated oils literally mean they are saturated in hydrogen bonds to increase the stability of the product, but this does not help us health wise. Hydrogenated oil is known to be one of the main culprits for increasing LDL cholesterol, the bad cholesterol responsible for artery blockage and such.
Additionally, canola oil is by nature genetically modified, and GM products are most often accompanied by an overuse of pesticides.
Finally, the “refined” nature of the oil literally means A LOT of unnatural processes are done to extract the oil from these seed including:
- heating the seeds to high temperatures
- mixing the seed pulp extracted with a chemical solution know as hexane (which is a derivative of petroleum oil!!!!! Literally poisonous!!!)
- using phosphorylation and centrifugation to separate the seeds from its residue
- and bleaching the product to remove all the colors of the chemicals used in the process.
This is just to name a FEW of the processes applied to extract the oil. It’s astonishing how many chemicals, methods, and denaturing techniques are used on a seed. Literally scary to think we are ingesting products which have undergone all this manipulation.
So on a basic level, there is just nothing good about this oil whatsoever. This, in my eyes, is seriously on the same level as being told told not to smoke. Both have MAJOR health implications. Why on earth would you want to put this poison into your body just because it’s a tad bit cheaper?! You can be saving long-term health complications by just spending the extra few bucks (NIS, I mean!! I’m the fresh sabra after-all 😉 ) to get a better quality, and HEALTHY oil.
Other vegetable oils that I’d avoid for the same reasons noted above include: safflower oil, soybean oil, and corn oil.
So what oils are ok to use?
There are two guidelines I like to use when choosing oil:
1) Always ensure the oil has been cold pressed
As opposed to refined oil, which is an unnatural process of extracting oil, cold pressing oil is the most natural way to extract the oil from the seed/plant. These seeds have oils that are readily available to be used and therefore don’t require any manipulation. The cold pressing process is essentially like using a mortal and pestle to extract the oil from the plant. As simple as that.
The cold pressing process also ensures the health benefits of the seed remain in the oil and aren’t denatured or chemically altered.
2) Smoke point
Every oil at a certain point, will reach a temperature known as its smoke point, where the oil will begin to denature and release free radicals. Free radicals are a leading cause of many diseases and health complications i.e. extremely harmful to the body.
Every oil has a smoke point specific to it, and so depending on your intended use, oil selection can vary.
Some high smoke point oils include (in decreasing order):
1) Peanut oil
2) Avocado oil
3) Sesame oil
4) Grapeseed oil
5) Extra virgin olive oil
It is important to note that any refined oil (ie, oils that have NOT been cold pressed) will naturally have a higher smoking point, but this is at the expense of many other health factors as noted above. So olive oil that has not been cold pressed, for example, may have a higher smoke point, however may have been extracted using many unnatural processes.
I like to use grapeseed oil in virtually everything because it has a very neutral taste and can be used in high temperatures without a problem. Avocado oil is also great in the neutral taste arena, however can get quite pricey. Sesame oil is also a really high smoke point oil, but the flavor is very potent so may not work in every dish.
If you are not using oils in cooking or baking, and just using as a garnish, or as a salad dressing for example, then any cold pressed oil can be used without a problem.
Here’s a list of brands I like for each of the oils listed above:
Peanut oil usually find it between 30-32 NIS
Sesame oil is another one I find pretty expensive here, but this is one I’ve seen around most often.
Grapeseed oil is one of those oils that I love because of its availability. You don’t need to go into a health food store to find it. Just make sure whatever brand you do find is unrefined, and has been cold pressed 🙂
Olive oil is one of those things in this country that we are not lacking! There are so many amazing brands that sell cold pressed, and often farmers markets sell the big 2 liter bottles as well. So keep an eye out for sales!
Happy oil hunting my fellow fresh sabras!