Category Archives: canola

Canola oil … heart healthy or not?

200017_10150140302023407_7125221_n.jpgOlive oil comes from olives. Peanut oil comes from peanuts. Coconut oil comes from coconuts. Did you ever stop to think where canola oil comes from? Is there any such thing as a canola plant?

The answer to that question is, “sort of.”

Let’s make this clearer. Today’s canola plant is a biologically modified cousin of the rapeseed plant, which is part of the mustard family. Rapeseed plants produce a substance called erucic acid that can be toxic in large amounts. So rapeseed oil is not actually fit for human or animal consumption. It is used, however, as a lubricant, fuel, soap and synthetic rubber base. It can also be found in insect repellents. The canola plant was developed in Canada during the 1960s and 70s in order to assure its safety for human consumption. That’s where the name comes from. It stands for Canadian Oil Low Acid.

So today there is a canola plant that exists because of the rapeseed plant, whose oil is inedible. The oil from the canola plant is not only edible, but, according to most sources, is better for consumption than many other available oils. It’s a good source of monounsaturated fats, the kind that, when used to replace saturated fats like butter and cheese, can help reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease. Canola oil is also a source of omega-3 fatty acids that have also been linked to heart health.

Still, there’s plenty of conflicting information out there. And because believes in consumer education, we thought it would be beneficial to report on the “other side” of canola oil.

Let’s begin with how the oil is extracted from the seeds of the canola plant. It appears that most canola oil is processed using hexane, which is a known carcinogen. The industry actually admits that trace amounts of hexane can be found in the finished product, but these amounts are insignificant. To be fair, many different vegetable oils, including soybean oil are processed the same way.

In addition to the use of hexane, the oil is removed using high temperature mechanical pressing. The presence of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the oil cause it to become foul-smelling during this high-heat process. It then becomes necessary to deodorize the oil. Because of the high-heat involved, both processes remove much of the omega-3s by turning them into trans fatty acids. The Canadian government lists the trans fat content of canola at just .2 percent.

And to add more conflicting information into the discussion, there are further reports that heating canola oil above 120 degrees will cause the formation of more trans fatty acids, again because of the breakdown of the remaining omega-3s. Most cooking classes teach that in order to saute protein properly, fat should be introduced into a pan heated to at least 212 degrees, depending on the fat used. So if the reports about heating canola oil over 120 degrees causing the formation of trans fats are realistic, we’re consuming more trans fat every time we cook using the oil.

These are just a few of the arguments against canola oil and its current status as a healthy fat for cooking. There are plenty of arguments out there in its favor though. Regardless of those, does think it’s important to repeat that nature didn’t create a canola plant. People did. As the FDA is considering a ban on trans fat in the food supply, we certainly think we could all use more clarity here.

Are GMOs adding to obesity problems?

Here at Food Facts, we’re always discussing the effect of ingredients on our health and well being. We’ve always believed that the ingredient list is key to many, many issues … including weight gain. While calories are important, we don’t believe that they are the be all and end all of weight control for anyone. If a low-calorie food has a bad ingredient list, we understand that a person might actually end up hungrier and looking for more to eat. We understand that ingredients like MSG or hidden MSG ingredients are actually known to increase hunger.

With the country more focused than ever on the obesity epidemic, we feel that it’s more important than ever to pay close attention to the foods we eat and their effects. Now it appears that we may be able to add GMO ingredients to the list of those that might make you eat more and consequently gain more weight.

There’s some new research coming from the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science. Yes, it’s an animal study, but its results are certainly a cause for concern throughout the human population. It has linked GMO food products to weight gain.

The study was conducted over a 90-day period and involved both rats and salmon and was focused specifically on how these populations reacted to a diet of genetically modified foods.

The rat population was divided into two study groups. One group was fed only GMO foods and the other only non-GMO foods. The rats who were fed genetically modified corn not only got slowly fatter than the non-GMO population, they also grew considerably quicker and ate more food, more often.

The salmon population studied experienced the same results, with some extra findings. The GMO salmon population experienced more weight gain, and ate more food, more often. In addition, they developed an inability to properly digest protein and developed intestinal changes.

In both rats and salmon, there was a link between the consumption of genetically modified foods, hunger and weight gain. It’s important to remember that in both the rat and salmon populations, there was no restriction of movement (or calorie expenditure). The weight gain occurred regardless of the normal energy expenditure of either the rats or the salmon. Therefore, calories consumed vs. calories burned had nothing to do with the weight gain.

While the study concentrates on animals and fish, it does lead you to ask if it’s possible that the obesity explosion we’re experiencing in our own country and throughout the world, might just have something to do with the amount of processed foods we’re ingesting and their ingredients. Considering that corn is present in almost every processed food available, soy is a common ingredient (and mostly GMO) and canola oil is a popular and “better” oil (that’s also GMO), and that the phenomenal infiltration of these food products actually might coincide with the obesity problem, it’s definitely something we want to keep an eye on.

Food Facts wanted to make sure our community has this important information so that we can all continue to make the best choices we can for our diet and health. Read more here:

Research shows NEGATIVE effects in mammals consuming GMOs

Most “foodies” and concerned followers are familiar with the underlying fear of genetic modification (GM) in the worldwide food supply. Why does this subject frighten most? We barely know the effects that this type of engineering may have on our health and well-being. Most crops are much more complicated than a simple seed blooming into a root or flower. Instead, most seeds now have DNA and genomes crossed, or linked, to resist this one pesticide, but absorb this herbicide, and not to produce seeds, etc! Also, because there is not yet a labeling requirement for GMO products, we’re not quite sure what is and isn’t modified. We have little to no control over biotechnology, which leaves us vulnerable.

It is our understanding that different varieties of crops by genetic engineering became available starting in 1996. Currently, about 70 percent of corn, 96 percent of soy, and 80 percent of canola in the US is genetically modified. Unsurprisingly, the also US accounts for two-thirds of all GM crops. Other major players in the biotechnology game are Canada, Brazil, Argentina, and China.

Many people eat GM products, whether they know it or not. Sadly, a large portion of people would recognize the name “Britney Spears” before they recognized a GM company; which they potentially give business to everyday. However, this is because Monsanto and other major biotechnology companies pay to stay out of mainstream media. With their massive revenue and control over most agriculture processes, they are able to persuade government lobbyists to keep them under the radar.

Surprisingly, we’ve come across one study published in 2009 from the International Journal of Biological Sciences shining a negative light on genetic engineering. The interesting part, the trials were done by Monsanto. The European government was able to obtain the raw data to have it scrutinized and further evaluated. Three French scientists conducted a research paper using this data to examine the effects of genetically modified corn on general mammalian health. Three types of commercialized corn were given to rats over a 14 week period. During this time, urine and serum samples were collected to determine and compare physiological effects that occurred.

Researchers found the following results to be possibly associated with glyphosate-based herbicides such as Roundup; which are highly toxic at very low concentrations to human embryonic kidney cells, and other organs of the body.

- Renal leakage
- Weakened heart muscles
- Diminished liver function
- Elevated triglycerides
- Increased spleen, adrenal gland, heart and kidney weight
… to name a few.

Check out this study and let us know what you think!