encyclopedia

Canola Oil

Scientific Names:    

B. napus L. and Brassica rapa L. (formerly B. campestris L.) [Fam. Cruciferae]    
     

Forms:    

Organic canola oil expeller-pressed in the absence of light, heat and oxygen.    
    

Traditional Usage:    

– Essential Fatty Acid Deficiency
– Heart Health Maintenance
– High Cholesterol
– Nutritive     
     
    
Overview:    

Canola was developed in Canada from rapeseed through plant breeding and research and is comprised of two Cruciferous plant species: Brassica rapa L. (formerly Brassica campestris L.), known as Polish canola; and Brassica napus L., known as Argentine canola. Canola oil has a complement of fatty acids that make it one of the healthiest edible oils. It is rich in heart-smart monosaturated fat (62%) and polyunsaturated fat (32%) and very low in saturated fat (7%). Many Brassica species have been cultivated since prehistoric times for their edible roots, stems, leaves, buds, flowers and seeds. Members of the B. rapa species provide the turnip, the Chinese cabbage and canola oil. Within the B. napus species, plants have been developed which produce the rutabaga and canola oil. Canola oil is rich in linoleic acid (omega-6 Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) – polyunsaturates), oleic acid (omega-9s monosaturates) and Vitamin E. Dr. James Duke in The Green Pharmacy notes that Australian cardiologists have shown that dietary canola oil helps prevent cardiac arrhythmias in laboratory animals. However, it is important to have the right balance of omega-6 and omega-3 EFAs in the diet for optimal health. Because canola oil contains very little linolenic acid, or omega-3 EFAs (approximately 10%), it is often combined with flaxseed oil in the diet. Excess omega-6 EFAs in the diet in the absence of adequate omega-3 EFAs favors the production of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins associated with inflammation, joint pain and many other debilitating conditions. Studies indicate that a right fat diet, rich in both omega-6 and omega-3 EFAs and monounsaturates (oleic acid) and low in saturates, lowers serum cholesterol, promotes HDL lipid production and reduces the risk of vascular diseases. It is best to use certified organic, expeller-pressed canola oil to avoid trans-fatty acids, which decrease beneficial HDL lipids in the body.    
     
    
Active Ingredients:    

Canola oil (Nutrient Units Value per 100 grams of edible portion (Proximates): Total lipid (fat) 100.00g; Vitamin E (ATE) 21mg; Fatty acids, total saturated 7.1g; 16:0, 4.0g; 18:0, 1.8g; 20:0, 0.7g; 22:0, 0.4g; 24:0 0.2g; Fatty acids, total monounsaturated (omega-9s) 58.9g; 16:1 undifferentiated 0.2g; 18:1 undifferentiated 56.1g; 20:1 1.7g; 22:1 undifferentiated 0.6g; Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated 29.6g; 18:2 (omega-6s) undifferentiated 20.3g; 18:3 (omega-3s) undifferentiated 9.3g; Cholesterol 0.00 mg. [USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 14 (July 2001)]. Canola seed yields about 40% oil and 60% meal.    
   
     
Suggested Amount:    

Take one to two tablespoons of oils rich in essential fatty acids per day. Canola oil can be blended with flaxseed oil, rich in omega-3 EFAs, to make an EFA-balanced oil for average diet (low in omega-3s). Canola oil can be used to make pleasant tasting culinary oils for salad dressings and other foods.    
   
     
Drug Interactions:    

None known.    
     
    
Contraindications:    

None known.    
     
    
Side Effects:    

Canola oil, taken as a part of a well balanced diet, does not cause any side effects. However, researchers now understand that an excess of omega-6 EFA's in the diet increases the incidence of cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and obesity. All of these diseases are associated with hyperinsulinemia (HI) and insulin resistance (IR) and are grouped together as the insulin resistance syndrome or syndrome X. There is also an increased cancer incidence and mortality rate, especially in women. Researchers conclude that, “high omega-6 linoleic acid consumption might aggravate HI and IR; such diets, rather than being beneficial, may have some long-term side effects within the cluster of hyperinsulinemia, atherosclerosis and tumorigenesis”. Excesses of omega-6 EFA's also promote high blood levels of estradiol. High circulating estrogen levels in the blood tend to increase insulin levels and this reduces blood sugar. Low blood sugar leads to irritability and this is one of the main problems with PMS. Thus, excess omega-6 EFA in the diet is linked to estrogen dominance, hyperinsulinemia, PMS and many other diseases.    
     
    
References:     
     
Duke, J. 1997: The Green Pharmacy, The Ultimate Compendium of Natural Remedies from the World's Foremost Authority on Healing and Herbs. Pp. 147. Rodale Press.
 
Erasmus, U. 1993: Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill. Published by Alive Books, Burnaby, B.C., Canada. pp. 1-456.
 
Makrides M, Neumann MA, Jeffrey B, Lien EL, Gibson RA. 2000. A randomized trial of different ratios of linoleic to alpha-linolenic acid in the diet of term infants: effects on visual function and growth. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Jan; 71(1): 120-9.
 
Sebedio JL, Vermunt SH, Chardigny JM, Beaufrere B, Mensink RP, Armstrong RA, Christie WW, Niemela J, Henon G, Riemersma RA. 2000. The effect of dietary trans alpha-linolenic acid on plasma lipids and platelet fatty acid composition: the TransLinE study. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2000 Feb; 54(2): 104-13.
 
Yam, Eliraz and Berry 1996: Diet and disease–the Israeli paradox: possible dangers of a high omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid diet. Israel Journal of Medical Sciences 2(11): 1134-43.