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Newsletter » Canola Oil: Good or Bad?

Newsletter July 20/01 - Susan Van Dueck

Canola Oil: Good or Bad?

  1. Heat Causes Deterioration

  2. Genetic Tampering

  3. Questions Raised About Health Risks

  4. References

Here is some information supplied by Health Action Network of which we are a member.

Heat Causes Deterioration

While it is commonly believed that canola oil, or rapeseed oil, is a healthful addition to any kitchen, many people don't know that canola oil should only be used for cold preparations, and should not be used for cooking. According to a January 26, 1998 Omega Nutrition press release, "heating distorts the omega-3 essential fatty acid found in canola, turning it into an unnatural trans form that raises total cholesterol levels and lowers HDL [good] cholesterol." Omega suggests purchasing unrefined canola oil that has been pressed and processed at temperatures below 110 degrees F/43 degrees C.

Genetic Tampering

Even fewer people realize that canola is one of over 30 crops approved for genetic engineering in Canada. Writer Carola Barzak cautions readers that "canola is genetically engineered in Canada to be resistant to herbicides, allowing farmers to spray more chemicals to kill weeds without damaging crops. Since fat-soluble herbicides tend to concentrate in oils, does canola oil absorb the herbicide toxin residues from the soil, as do peanuts? Are there long term side effects from ingesting such genetically engineered food products? Unfortunately, the answers to these questions are unknown" (Health Naturally, October/November 1997, page 33).

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Questions Raised About Health Risks

A recent article in The Province newspaper reveals that this $2.5 billion Prairie crop is being investigated for possible health concerns. Initial questions were raised by health officials in Japan, the final destination of two-thirds of our oilseed exports. Japanese researchers found that the life spans of rats fed diets rich in canola oil were 40% shorter. Canadian federal scientists have spent the last 3 years and $730,000 trying to alleviate fears linking canola consumption to hypertension and stroke. Health Canada insists that although their tests match the Japanese data, canola poses no risks to humans. "There is no indication that there is any concern of health risks to Canadians at this point." said Health Department spokeswoman Lynn Sage (as quoted in The Province). On the other hand. The Province also reported that the relationship between Health Canada and the canola council which performed the tests is a little too comfortable for federal NDP health critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis. "’It's another example of how Health Canada is abdicating its responsibility to Canadians,’ the Member of Parliment for Winnipeg-North Centre said." (The Province, May 11 1999, page B24).

References:

  1. Health Action Network (www.hans.org)

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