What is a Canola?

Olive oil comes from olives, peanut oil from peanuts, sunflower oil from sunflowers; but what is a canola?  As I began the research for this article, I was very disturbed.   I could not believe all the research, statistics and facts about the dangers of eating canola oil.  I was grateful to a friend in Saint Louis, who once said to me, “What is a canola?”  I am not sure I thought about it or cared at the time.  I was young, just had a new baby and ate whatever I wanted.  But about a year ago, I could still hear her voice in my head, ‘What is a canola?’  I decided that my family and I were not going to eat foods made with canola oil anymore.  After our ‘canola purge’ I have since found three items that my girls cannot live without that contain canola oil: Litehouse Ranch dressing, Glutino granola bars and restaurant French Fries.  With our severely restricted diet, it is difficult to be so hard on them, but after reviewing the studies on the dangers of canola oil, I am still questioning my judgment on this matter.  Here is why.

First let’s look at what canola is.  It is genetically engineered rapeseed.  Canola is a genetically engineered plant developed in Canada from the rapeseed plant, which is part of the mustard family of plants.  It is derived from the mustard family and is considered a toxic and poisonous weed, which when processed, becomes rancid very quickly. Canada paid the FDA the sum of $50 million to have it registered and recognized as “safe”. Canola is an acronym for Canada oil, low acid, and was contrived by the Canadian oil industry in 1978. Canadian scientists genetically modified the rapeseed plants for the express purpose of processing the oil for human consumption. It was cheap and easy to grow. In the 1970s, the food super-companies were looking for substitutes for saturated fats, which were being blamed for heart and other health diseases, and Canada was set to fill the need with canola.  Insects won’t even eat it!  Rapeseed oil is poisonous to living things and is an excellent insect repellent.

Here is the problem with canola oil.  Rapeseed is lubricating oil used by small industries. It has never been meant for human consumption.   Claims of several human health side effects from canola oil are loss of vision, disruption of the central nervous system, respiratory illness, anemia, constipation, increased incidence of heart disease and cancer, low birth weights in infants and irritability.  And it has been shown to cause lung cancer.

So how does our body process this foreign chemical?  Well, it is pretty tricky.  When rape oil is metabolized in the body it produces the latex-like substance that causes the agglutination of red blood cells.  It also restricts the flow of lymph fluid and jeopardizes our immune system.   Rape oil is also an acetlycholinesterase inhibitor. Acetylcholine is critical to the transmission of signals from nerves to muscles.   Canola oil contains large amounts of isothiocyanates, which are cyanide-containing compounds. Cyanide inhibits mitochondrial production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the energy molecule that fuels the mitochondria. ATP energy powers the body and keeps us healthy and young!

Studies have conclusively shown that canola depletes vitamin E, which is necessary for life. The most well-known studies were done by Canadian researchers in 1997 and involved piglets fed milk replacer containing canola and fortified with vitamin E. Their vitamin E levels dropped dangerously low. However, the piglets on milk replacer with soy oil and fortified with vitamin E did not experience a drop in their vitamin E levels.

I know it is crazy, but I found several articles on canola oil and they all said the same thing.  So what are you supposed to do?  How do you cook?  How do you bake?  How do you fry?!!!  Here are the oils we use regularly.  For high temperature cooking such as pan-frying, stir-fries and roasting we use sesame oil and coconut oil.  For moderate temperature cooking like baking and sautés, we use olive oil, butter and coconut oil.  And for salad dressings, dips, spreads, we use olive oil and flaxseed oil.  Afraid that you will never be able to eat another fried, processed food again?  Well, here is an awesome recipe for healthy chicken nuggets.  You can make them ahead of time and stick them in the oven when you get home for a wonderful kid-friendly dinner!

Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets


1 package organic free range ground chicken

1 egg

2 T  Dijon mustard

½ cup plain yogurt

¼ cup parmesan cheese

½ cup gluten free Outside the Breadbox cracker crumbs

1 t garlic salt

1 t cumin

1 t pepper


¼ cup ketchup

1 T cider vinegar

2 T brown sugar


Form 12 balls with the ground chicken.

Dip chicken into egg, yogurt and mustard mixture.

Mix breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and spices.

Coat chicken in this mixture of dry ingredients.

Place chicken in a baking dish coated in olive oil.

Bake chicken at 375 degrees for 1 hour.

Or fry chicken in olive oil on stovetop.

Serve with Barbeque sauce.

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One Response to What is a Canola?

  1. Thanks Lisa – this was an eyeopener! I will never take Canola oil for granted again.


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