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Dr. Oz’s Advice On Canola Oil – Why You May Not Want To Follow It

One of my clients recently asked me about my opinion of using canola oil for cooking and she appeared shocked when I told her I won’t touch the stuff. Her immediate response was, “but Dr Oz recommends it!”

Look I have a lot of respect for Dr Oz and agree with a lot of his recommendations, just not all of them. The use of canola oil as a “healthy choice” for cooking is an area where we’ll have to agree to disagree.

I explained to my client why I wouldn’t use canola oil and what I would use in its place, and figured I’d share my response in a blog post for my readers.

More after the jump…

But I thought Canola oil was a healthy oil?

The premise behind Dr. Oz’s assertion, and many other health professionals mind you, is that canola oil is healthy because it’s a monounsaturated fat. Once again this goes back to the idea that saturated fats are “bad” and unsaturated fats are “good.”

Here’s a link to a video where Dr Oz makes his case for using canola oil:

Dr Oz promoting canola oil

Unfortunately it’s just not that simple to declare saturated fats as “bad” and monounsaturated fats as “good,” especially when heating is involved. While we don’t want EXCESS saturated fat in the diet, some individuals like menopausal women want to really minimize it, it’s just not some evil fat that automatically clogs arteries and causes heart disease.

I’ve spoken at length on this subject in previous posts so I won’t get on my soapbox again here. I’ll just say there are without question other variables involved with arteriosclerosis than mere saturated fat being ingested.

I’ve come to this conclusion not just from the research I’ve reviewed, but also from the one fundamental piece of evidence I can’t seem to disregard. The fact that our grandparents and earlier generations consumed saturated fats from several natural food sources without suffering much metabolic dysfunction.

But let’s not get caught up in that argument. Here are the main reasons why I don’t use canola oil…

What is Canola Oil in the first place?

No, there’s no canola seed or grain that’s used to make canola oil. The reality is that canola oil comes from the hybridization of rape seed. Yes it’s a plant source which is why it’s monounsaturated, but the reason it’s called canola oil is oddly enough because it’s largely an export of Canada.

It’s named canola oil (as in “oil from Canada”) because I guess that sounded better than “rape” seed oil. Yeah, marketers had some influence over that decision.

Anyways, what’s my beef with it? Well canola oil is by nature a very delicate oil that oxidizes and turns rancid fairly quickly.

Canola oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which is a good thing, but when subjected to oxygen and high temperatures it’ll become foul-smelling in a minute. How do the manufacturers get around this?

You may not know this but they’ll often use deodorizers in the manufacturing process. Like a lot of plant oils, canola oil goes through a refining process that often involve either high temperatures OR chemicals.

I’m not so keen on either option. My main problem with canola oil is that it can and does oxidize very quickly. What’s the big deal with that?

This isn’t even about the possible rancid taste or foul smell. If an oil becomes oxidized it’s no longer beneficial at the cellular level. In fact, this could lead to further inflammation, which as we known is a precursor to a lot of degenerative diseases.

And finally my last gripe with canola oil is that it’s largely a product of genetically modified crops. Trying to find truly “organic” canola oil is difficult to say the least. No matter how much the government declares GMO crops are “safe” and we need not to worry, I’m still largely suspect.

So what could I use instead of canola oil for cooking?

Personally, I prefer a more stable oil for cooking, especially when subjecting to higher temperatures. Here are my preferred choices:

For baking:

- coconut oil
- high oleic safflower or sunflower oil

For Frying:

- avocado oil
- peanut oil
- palm oil
- sesame oil

(yeah you shouldn’t be frying that much anyways, but if you did, this is what I’d use)

For Saute’ing:

- coconut oil
- organic butter or Ghee
- avocado oil
- grapeseed oil
- sesame oil
- high oleic safflower or sunflower oils

But what about extra virgin olive oil?

While I used to use extra virgin olive oil for low-medium temperature cooking, I don’t follow this practice any more. I’ve found coconut oil to be a better choice and that’s more of a staple in my kitchen these days. While I LOVE extra virgin olive oil as a salad dressing, I don’t look to heat it due to the oxidization.

This may come as a shock to some, but I personally feel that saturated fats like lard, which is very stable by the way, may well be a better choice for high temperature cooking than canola oil. While I’m more of a coconut oil promoter, I’d rather have something cooked in a natural fat (yes, even lard) than some processed oil than oxidizes quickly.

My personal favorite with coconut oil is the Barlean’s brand.

You can pick up a good value on the 32 ounce container from Amazon.com. I’ve attached a link if you’d like to pick one up.

Barlean’s 32 ounce extra virgin coconut oil

That’s my two cents for what it’s worth. Let me know what you think.

Yes, monounsaturated fats are good for you in their natural state, I just think we have to be careful with looking at the refining process, how it’s stored, and how we use it. Is canola oil better than junk vegetable oil? You betcha…I’m just not so sure it’s better to cook with it than say compared to coconut oil or some of the other options I’ve provided you.

This is an open forum blog so feel free to leave your comments or questions.

Shane Doll is a certified Charleston personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts Personal Training Studios. He specializes in helping people achieve a body transformation with burst training exercise and whole food nutrition. You can receive a FREE no-obligations trial of his Charleston personal fitness programs and start experiencing the Shaping Concepts difference today.

 

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Category: Nutrition.