Canola Oil Linked to Dementia

Now that’s a scary headline, isn’t it? You’ve probably seen similar headlines over the last few days as even some of the major news outlets have been talking about it. What’s especially troubling is that canola oil has been marketed as being a “healthy” oil for many years now, and it is in very wide spread use around the world. So the possibility that it is linked to something as scary as dementia is pretty serious.

What is canola in the first place? Well, in a way “canola” doesn’t really exist. It actually a variety of rapeseed. The term “rape” comes from the Latin word “rapum”, which means turnip. Rapeseed is related to turnip, rutabaga, cabbage and mustard. We’ve been using plants in this family for oil for thousands of years. It seems that rapeseed oil in the first half of the 20th century was used more as a lubricant than as a food product. Production in Canada increased enormously curing WWII.

After the war demand fell drastically and farmers began to look for other uses. Rapeseed oil was brought to the market in the mid 1950s as a food product, but it had some problems. It had a nasty green color and tasted pretty bad. Even worse, it had a high concentration of erucic acid. Animal experiments indicated that consuming large quantities of erucic acid caused heart damage.

In the 1970s Canadian researchers bred a variety of rapeseed that had far fewer objectionable qualities and far less erucic acid. The term “canola” was originally a trademark name for the new variety, made out of “Can” for Canada, and “ola” from other vegetable oils like Mazola.

Modern canola oil is considered, or was considered before this study came along, to actually be fairly healthy. But now…

How concerned should we be about this? This was just one study and more research needs to be done, but it still is something we need to be concerned about. Dementia is very scary and anything that increases the risk of getting it needs to be avoided if at all possible. To be honest, I’m not going to be buying canola oil after this. There are other oils out there with similar smoke points and nutrition profiles that can be used instead.

Author: grouchyfarmer

Yes, I'm a former farmer. Sort of. I'm also an amateur radio operator, amateur astronomer, gardener, maker of furniture, photographer, wanna-be artist, owner of cats, motorcyclist, cook, and I'm trying to learn Japanese for the heck of it.

7 thoughts on “Canola Oil Linked to Dementia”

  1. I’ve never really used Canola at home, but now I’m wondering where I consume it when I buy premade food.

    Of course I’m also something of skeptic about food studies generally. The entire animal fat is going to kill you thing that I grew up with is now being discredited. And that was GOSPEL.

    And the worst part of that is the fact that the BEST – double blind study done showed that that vegetable oils were actually associated with people die earlier and it wasn’t published for years and then quietly ignored. It was the BEST study on the subject done in a field that has a terribly hard time doing good studies. And it was ignored. It’s author didn’t believe the results were accurate and that helped kill it. It was accurate.

    All of that said, I also have a fear of Canola oil now.

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    1. I was just in for a checkup this morning and was talking about it with my doctor and she’s just as frustrated about all of this as we are. It seems every time I look at medical news there is some food or other that’s going to kill us or hurt us or is claimed to be a “super food” that will cure whatever disease is scaring people the most at the moment.

      As she pointed out, when it comes to information, it’s often all about the money; i.e. who is paying for the research and who has the money to get their own version of the “facts” out in the media. I think I mentioned either here or on Tumblr some time ago that there was significant research out of Europe that indicates milk is not as good for us as the dairy industry claims it is. There were some studies that showed that older women who consumed large amounts of milk actually seemed to be more prone to breaking bones than those who did not. There were even links that consuming more than two or three glasses of milk a day might increase the risk for mortality.

      I was taught the same things you were, that any kind of animal fat was going to kill us. Fat in meat, butter, cheese, whole milk… All of it was deadly. Same for eggs. Now? As long as we eat it in moderation, there’s no problem… Arrggg!

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        1. That must be a very thick book, I’d think, because there is so much BS out there about food it’s mind boggling. I actually saw bottled water labeled “gluten free” the other day. I started giggling. My wife, who is a registered dietician came over, I pointed to it and she started giggling. Until we realized that there are people out there who will actually think you need to pay a premium price to get “gluten free” water and are going to buy the stuff. Sigh

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  2. Oh thistlefeathers! I moved to canola oil for the bulk of my vegetable oil use twenty or so years back. Starting to think that smoking is the best retirement plan.

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    1. I know exactly what you mean. It’s hard to know what to believe any more. Butter was supposed to cause heart disease, now it’s fine in moderation and it’s margarine, which was supposed to be healthy, that’s the bad guy. We were told canola was healthy, now it’s not. We’re supposed to eat fish but some fish is laced with mercury and other pollutants we’re supposed to avoid. Just can’t win, it seems.

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