Hey morons, what’s up with Canola?

Posted: May 28, 2013 by socklessjoe in It's Science!, Moronosphere, Random Crap

Lately I’ve seen a lot of hating on Canola oil, particularly on paleo-friendly sites.  I gotta tell you though, I’m not convinced.  Most of the criticisms are either vague (“high heat processing”), or dripping with Monsanto hate.  Supposedly reputable mainstream websites say Canola is the cat’s pajamas, but then again, the paleo philosophy and the broader reduced carb outlook go against a lot of mainstream thinking, so I’m completely open to the idea that mainstream thought on Canola is dead wrong.

So morons, I put it to you – tell me why I shouldn’t use Canola without referring to (1) genetic modification, as I couldn’t care less, or (2) general complaints about Canola being heavily processed.  Is there some verifiable harm that comes from the processing?  If the processing changes the fatty acid profile, link me something solid.  Or is there some other essential evil in Canola?

Relatedly, if Canola is bad, what’s the alternative?  Olive oil can’t be used for all applications, and something more exotic like macadamia oil isn’t readily available.  Looking for relatively high smoke point and, decent fat profile, mild flavor, and broad availability.

  1. Thomas F says:

    Save your bacon fat…… everything is better w/ bacon…..

    • Sockless Joe says:

      I do, though not quite everything is better with bacon grease. Hardly a neutral flavor. And while certainly better than Crisco, not particularly healthy.

  2. MikeD says:

    I question the whole “paleo diet” stuff to begin with. The idea that the hunter/gatherer diet was what is BEST for humanity assumes that because we came up with agriculture that this is somehow “unnatural”. Also in there is the assumption that “natural” equals good. And I remind everyone who tells me “but it’s natural!” that foxglove, nightshade and oleander are all natural, but eating them can be fatal. And finally, basing your diet on the same thing eaten by people (who again, I remind you, HAD NO OTHER OPTIONS) with a life expectancy in their 30s is hardly a recipe for long life and health.

    Realistically, people have no non-conspiracy level reason to dislike Canola. My favorite reason I’ve heard why you shouldn’t use Canola is “they changed the name to hide the fact that it comes from RAPESEED!!!” Yes, because most consumers would be put off by the name “rapeseed oil”, not because there’s something sinister about rapeseed itself. You’d be less likely to want a bowl full of Jello if it was called “flavored ground horse hoof suspension,” but that doesn’t make it BAD for you.

    • Sockless Joe says:

      I’m sort of a Paleo in name only right now. But I mostly agree with the carbohydrate and fat theses on an intellectual level. Trying to shift away from refined sugars, towards veggies and meat, and am at least a little cautious about what kind of fats I use.

      “Paleo” is not really a good name for most of what supposedly paleo dieters do, but it’s the name that stuck. Check out http://nomnompaleo.com for a more balanced approach.

      As far as things being “natural”, I totally agree. I have no inherent problems with GMO food, and while I am a little skeptical of “processing”, it is not a deal breaker. Like I said before, I think the important things to focus on are carbs, especially refined sugars, and the types of fats one consumes.

    • See my comment below about fatty acids. Canola is a seed oil, and all seed oils are inflammatory.

    • Also, “life expectancy in their 30’s” is a shitty argument. The numbers were so low because death in childhood was so common. If you made it to 20, you probably lived to 70, for most of human history.

  3. Mitchell says:

    I forget exactly what the objection is, but it does have something to do with the molecule formation. I have a book at home that goes over the whole thing & I’ll look it up tonight. If you can’t go with olive oil then a good alternative is sunflower oil. It has a very neutral flavor and it’s good for high temp. cooking.

  4. Clemenza says:

    Leave the gum, take the canola

  5. Doctor’s orders, I can’t have the processed stuff anymore so I’m forced into a low carb diet at the moment. So far have lost 20 pds since mid-April. 🙂

    The main objection, even with my nutritionist, is the processing. I’m trying to find a healthier alternative right now, so in the meantime I haven’t had a fried food since I started.

    • MikeD says:

      What constitutes “processing”? Does milling grain into flour count as “processing”? Does salting a piece of pork to keep it from spoiling count as “processing”? Packing it in a can? Cutting a steak off a cow? Refrigerating? COOKING it? The word “processing” can mean any or all of those things. What I fail to understand is how milling grain into flour (which consists of grinding it and putting it in a bag) somehow reduces the nutritional value (since all the original parts are still there, just ground smaller), and yet, I’ve seen people swear it does.

      Now, if you want to make the case that cooking something may cook off some healthy nutrients, I don’t know that I’d disagree, as heat breaks down amino acids and proteins and such. Heat causes all manner of chemical reactions. But unless you’re subjecting your food items to pressures excessive enough to heat them, I fail to see how grinding it up would do anything to the nutrients contained within.

      • scoop11 says:

        In my case, nutritionist told me to stay away from the “white” foods like white bread. I can have wheat bread (preferably whole grain) because it takes longer to turn into sugar in the blood. I also try to stay away from canned or boxed food when possible because it has more carbs in it.

  6. I have been aware of and eating Paleo off and on for the last three years. Some people argue that it may be a misnomer but regardless I have found that I feel and physically perform my best when I’m eating Paleo. The arguments should be with the actual content of the diet not whether or not cavemen truly ate like that.

    That being said, might I suggest coconut oil? It has a high smoke point, and tastes delicious. I’ve actually grown fond of using it on sweet potatoes instead of butter. It can be expensive in normal grocery stores, but I found that Costco sells it in a huge tub/jar for 25$-ish.

  7. bandersnatch45 says:

    peanut oil also has a high smoke point and almost no taste. good for wok cooking and is priced just like canola or other cooking oil.

  8. Fatty acid content. Rapeseed (euphemistically “canola”) oil is loaded with w-6 fatty acids, and eating it will knock your w-3/w-6 fatty acid ratio too far in the w-6 direction. w-6’s are known to be strongly inflammatory, and the overall effect on health is pretty craptastic.

    Looking for relatively high smoke point and, decent fat profile, mild flavor, and broad availability.

    If you’re looking to fry, I second the rec for coconut oil. That’s all I cook with other than grassfed butter and bacon grease.

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