Putting out the grease fire over canola oil

Q: I was surprised to see a mention of canola oil in a recent Daily Dispatch. Do you recommend it ?

Dr. Micozzi: In a word: No! The passing mention of canola oil that appeared in the Daily Dispatch last month was inadvertent. We promptly clarified this question in the following Dispatch, but this topic is quite an important one, so I delved deeper through the oily layers of this slippery substance for Insiders’ Cures. You see, the whole sad story of canola oil is a series of unfortunate events—at least for consumers.

Proponents like to point out that canola oil has been around since ancient China and India. Use in Northern Europe has been documented as early as the 13th century. However, the oil was used to burn as a fuel (for example, in oil lamps) and as a lubricant. Not to eat as a food. Canola oil became so popular as a lubricant for steam engines that a shortage during WWII led Canada to vastly expand its production. After the war, there was an oversupply and our erstwhile allies scrambled to find a new use for it. And they found the “perfect” place to dump the oil in the expanding post-WWII “baby boom” U.S. food market of the 1950’s.

To make matters worse, over the years, the rapeseed crops used to produce canola oil have become increasingly genetically modified. ).  In fact, by 2009, 90% of rapeseed used to make canola oil was GMO.

Bottom line: Canola oil was never meant for human consumption. I have never used canola oil for cooking and I don’t recommend it. Stick with olive oil, which is TRULY healthy. And always read the labels of packaged foods—even on so-called “healthy” products in popular “health food” stores.