Claims About Canola Oil
Auburn, Feb. 22---Recently,
false e-mail messages concerning canola oil have been circulating on
the Internet. The claim is that canola oil is bad for human
is totally false," says Dr. Jean Weese, a food safety scientist
with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. "Canola oil is
one of the more heart healthy oils on the market, " says Weese.
is a hybrid variety of the rapeseed plant developed in Canada during
the late 1960s and early 1970s from traditional pedigree hybrid
propagation techniques based on black mustard, leaf mustard and
The original rapeseed
plant was high in erucic acid. Oils are made up of many types of
fatty acids. Some are saturated short-chained fatty acids such as
stearic acid, and others are long-chained, unsaturated fatty acids
such as linolenic acid. Oils or fats that have more long-chained
fatty acids are usually classified as being more healthy or better
for you than foods containing short-chains like meat fat.
Consumers have enjoyed
canola oil, which is made from this plant, for more than 25 years.
This plant has allowed the production of less costly seed oils. Some
forms of rapeseed plants that produce canola oil are genetically
engineered, but definitely not all of them. These plants have been
genetically modified to be herbicide tolerant.
One false claim is that
canola contributes to glaucoma. Some individuals say that glaucoma
is not caused by fluid pressure buildup in the eye, which causes the
optic nerve to deteriorate, but instead is due to oxygen starvation
that can be caused by blood platelet aggregation.
While it is possible
platelet aggregation could be a cause of glaucoma, no scientific
study links glaucoma to any lipid toxicity or diet, says Weese.
"If this were true,
canola oil might be helpful since the 10 percent omega-3 fraction in
canola oil, as well as its 16 percent omega-6 fraction of fatty
acids, tend to reduce platelet
aggregation. If platelet
aggregation were actually found to be the cause of glaucoma, canola
oil could be a helpful rather than a causative agent," says
Several years ago,
studies showed rats fed traditional rapeseed oil containing up
percent erucic acid
developed fatty degeneration of heart, kidney, adrenal and thyroid.
Due to the results of these studies, researchers worked to lower the
content of the erucic acid in rapeseed plants through plant
breeding. As a result, the plant called the canola variety of
rapeseed plant was developed. This variety contains less than 1
percent erucic acid.
Another claim is that
rapeseed contains large amounts of "isothiocyanates",
cyanide-containing compounds and glycocides that interfere with the
biochemistry of humans and animals.
In actuality, most seeds
of any type have small amounts of cyanogetic glycosides that, if
ingested in concentrated amounts over a number of years, may be
detrimental to one's health. For example, eating large quantities of
the seeds within apples can become lethal due to the cyanide
compounds each seed contains.
Rincin, processed from
rice, is also a lethal refined material used as a nerve agent.
Still, these toxic substances do not make rice, apples and canola
seeds lethal in their natural form, adds Weese. Even so, the heating
of seeds destroys these low-level natural agents. As seeds are
expeller pressed and heated above 120 F, isothiocyates and other
compounds are destroyed.
Another outrageous claim
is that mad cow disease, a brain disorder (spongiform encephalopathy)
thought to be caused by errant protein structures in the brain, is
by the consumption of
erucic acid or rapeseed/canola oils.
In reality, prions,
protein structures that cause decay of synapses nerves and cells in
the brain, are the suspected cause of mad cow disease. Cattle are
not fed canola oil as part of their diet in England where mad cow
disease was a problem, nor is there a suspected causative role
played by canola seed, meal or oils in this disease.
SOURCE: Dr. Jean Weese (email@example.com),
Extension Food Safety Scientist, Alabama Cooperative Extension
System (334) 844-3269