Canola Oil: Separating Fact from Fiction

Canola Oil: Separating Fact from Fiction

Written by: Oriana Bellissimo , April 2023 

Walking down the aisle of your local grocery store can feel like a daunting task with countless options to choose from, and cooking oils are no exception. To make matters worse, there's a lot of conflicting information online about which oils are healthy and which are not, leaving you feeling confused and frustrated. In recent years, canola oil has been the center of controversy among health enthusiasts that claim it’s toxic and should be avoided completely. But what do nutrition experts have to say?


Canola oil is toxic: FALSE

The Canola plant, where canola oil is derived from, was developed through a crossbreeding of a rapeseed plant. Canola is not rapeseed. Rapeseed oil contains very high levels of erucic acid, a compound that in large amounts can be toxic to humans. Alternatively, canola oil has been manufactured to contain less than 2% of erucic acid (Lin et al., 2013)


Canola got its name by combining "Canada" and "ola", which stands for "oil low acid". This name was chosen because it was developed in Canada and has a low content of erucic acid.


Canola Oil Contains Toxic Levels of Hexane: FALSE

Edible oils and fats can be produced through solvent or mechanical extraction of seed oils, with hexane being a commonly used solvent in the industry. After the initial pressing of the canola seeds, there may still be some remaining oil that is difficult to extract. This is where hexane comes in. It is used to remove any leftover oil from the seeds, ensuring that every last drop of canola oil is extracted to minimize waste. However, you may have heard rumors that hexane is harmful and should be avoided. While it is true that hexane can be toxic in high concentrations, its use in food production is regulated, with a maximum residue limit set at 1 mg/kg for oils and foodstuff containing solvent-extracted flavorings, including canola oil (Cravotto et al., 2022). Refined vegetable oils contain a maximum of 0.8 mg/kg, and canola oil is even lower at only 0.043 mg/kg (Yousefi et al., 2017). 


Canola Oil Has Health Benefits? TRUE

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a leading cause of death worldwide, and research has shown that certain risk factors, such as diet, play a significant role in its development. One of these risk factors is the consumption of saturated fat. Canola oil has been characterized by having a low level of saturated fat (7-10%), and elevated levels of mono- and poly-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA’s & PUFA’s), including 61% oleic acid, 21% linoleic acid, and 11% alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), all of which are cardio-protective substances. When canola oil was compared to olive oil on the levels of fat in the blood of adults, canola oil was found to be a healthier option for heart health compared to olive oil. This has led to an increasing interest in some countries to replace olive oil with canola oil (Pourrajab et al., 2022).

Seed oils, like canola oil can be just as healthy as other vegetable and nut oils, this just depends on the specific health benefits and nutrients you’re looking for!


Are BEANIES healthy? TRUE

It’s time to put your hesitation aside and indulge in heart-healthy snacking by choosing BEANIES made with nourishing ingredients like canola oil, which is rich in unsaturated fats and other beneficial nutrients including fiber, protein, and real vegetables.


References:

Cravotto, C., Fabiano-Tixier, A. S., Claux, O., Abert-Vian, M., Tabasso, S., Cravotto, G., & Chemat, F. (2022). Towards Substitution of Hexane as Extraction Solvent of Food Products and Ingredients with No Regrets. Foods (Basel, Switzerland), 11(21), 3412.

Lin, L., Allemekinders, H., Dansby, A., Campbell, L., Durance-Tod, S., Berger, A., & Jones, P. J. (2013). Evidence of health benefits of canola oil. Nutrition reviews, 71(6), 370–385. 

Pourrajab, B., Sharifi-Zahabi, E., Soltani, S., Shahinfar, H., & Shidfar, F. (2022). Comparison of canola oil and olive oil consumption on the serum lipid profile in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 1–15. Advance online publication. 

Yousefi, M., & Hosseini, H. (2017). Evaluation of hexane content in edible vegetable oils consumed in Iran. Journal of Experimental and Clinical Toxicology, 1(1), 27.

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