Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Canola Oil and GMO's - The Facts

Canola oil has become more popular within the past couple years...some popularity has been positive but most has been negative. It seems as if so many people are just looking to jump on a bandwagon to burn someone, or something, at the stake without truly doing their research. I have done extensive research on this subject as I am incredibly against GMO's and all in support of companies required to label their products that contain it.

First of all, the majority of canola oil IS genetically modified. I won't lie to you about that. But so are many, many other foods...some we aren't even aware of. It is up to us to do the research if we want to live a life free of genetically modified foods. With that said, not all canola oil contains GMO's, no matter what someone else says or what some other blog claims.

Canola oil is actually the healthiest of all common cooking oils. It's the lowest in saturated fats, high in cholesterol-lowering mono-unsaturated fat, and the best source of omega-3's from any other oils. Canola oil contains just 7% saturated fat compared to 15% for olive oil, 19% from peanut oil, and 12% for sunflower oil.

A lot of information out on the internet claims that canola oil is made from rapeseed. This has only the tiniest amount of truth to it and I will explain why. Canola oil comes from pressed canola seeds, not the rapeseed. Though they look similar on the outside they are completely different on the inside and that's where it matters. Canola seed has been grown by North American farmers for over 30 years.

There were no canola plants prior to the 1970's, they just didn't exist. And rapeseed, the starting point to producing a canola plant, is very toxic; this I will not deny because these are the facts. However, through traditional plant breeding methods - natural breeding methods, NOT genetically altering plant DNA - scientists were able to breed a plant similar to the rapeseed but without its undesirable and toxic qualities. Let me state this again. Scientists used natural and traditional breeding methods, methods that have been around since the beginning of time, to create a new plant that contains the beneficial elements of the rapeseed plant without the toxic negatives - and this new plant was named the canola plant. Canola oil and meal is completely different from rapeseed oil and meal.

Though biotechnology (genetic modification) was not originally used in the creation of the canola plant, that doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. In fact, about 80% of canola plants in Canada, the origin of the canola plant, is now modified using biotechnology. However, (and I state these facts with a grain of salt because I am very against genetically modifying plants no matter how insignificant), the genetic modification on canola is to the plant and not the oil. "What does this mean exactly?" The genetic modification is to the DNA of the actual plant and is made to only one canola protein gene. When the seed of the plant is processed into oil all proteins are removed. With this process, any canola oil made from a genetically modified plant should be the same as a non-genetically modified plant. 

But, like I said, I state these facts with a grain of salt. When it comes to my health and the food I ingest, I like to play it safe than sorry. With GMO's, the effects are usually not seen until many years after the fact and research is still ongoing. My opinion is that if changes in plants happen through a natural nature then I'm okay with it. If changes in plants are forced by a scientist using a DNA gun then I am NOT okay with it. Changes to plants, animals, and even humans have been naturally occurring and evolving since the beginning of time. Cross pollination has naturally been happening on this Earth since it existed. (And, no, cross pollination is NOT the same as genetically modifying. More facts on the differences between what it means to be GMO versus cross-pollinated, click here.) But when man steps in and "plays God", (or Goddess...hehe), it is not okay with me and the long-term, negative effects are starting to prove to us that we need to stop forcing nature to immediately adapt to our standards.

To purchase certified, non-GMO Canola oil you can check your local natural foods store or even buy it online through sites like Amazon. Many natural food stores are taking part in the Non-GMO project and all food items apart of this program will be labeled as so.

Look for items with this label.
Canola oil is in no way poisonous to humans or animals like many people will try and claim simply because scientists used rapeseed plants when they started the natural breeding processes to produce a canola plant. This is simply not true.

And though rapeseed is a toxic plant, there are rapeseed oils that are not toxic or poisonous. However, this is hydrogenated rapeseed oil and I, as well as many others, are against the hydrogenation process which actually mixes rancid oils with small metal particles and then subjects it to hydrogen gas in a high-pressure, high-temperature reactor. Hydrogenated rapeseed oil is usually found in peanut butter and helps prevent the peanut oil from separating from the peanut butter.

Another myth is that canola oil must be bad because it originally all started with a rapeseed plant and rapeseed plant is used to make mustard gas. SO NOT TRUE! Mustard gas got it's name because of it's noxious smell and odor that resembles the mustard plant, NOT because it is made using a plant from the mustard family. Mustard gas is an oily, volatile liquid made using specific chemical formulas.

"But doesn't canola oil kill aphids and other insects?" OF COURSE IT DOES! As well as any other oil. Pouring oil on ANY insect is going to suffocate it which is why there are many natural remedies out there using oils to help get rid of head lice. There is no evidence stating that canola oil kills aphids and other insects because it is toxic in any way.

"Yeah, but Europe has banned canola oil since the early 1990's and they are much more advanced in nutrition than the U.S. so they must know something we don't." Not true even one little bit. In fact, Europe is now the highest producing manufacturer of canola oil, even over Canada which is where it originates from. However, they don't necessarily call it canola oil. Europeans call their canola "oilseed rape" and they refer to the oil as "rape oil" or "rapeseed oil".

The bottom line, when it comes right down to it, you need to decide for yourself what kind of a healthy lifestyle you want to live. Everyone is different, and each person has their own idea of what is healthy and what is not. Don't conform to anyone else's standards, not even mine here on this blog. This blog is meant to provide everyone with the most up-to-date and current facts that I can find and one of the things that I am most good at is research. I love it, I live it, and all I want to do is share my knowledge and findings so that everyone out there can choose for themselves how they want to live their own lives that will make them the most happy. Happiness is the key to a fulfilling life.

{Sources Cited: www.wikipedia.com as well as many other unnamed blog posts claiming canola oil to be evil with "facts" that were easily discredited with simple research. I actually started this project with the thought that I was going to come out on the other end in support of the "No Canola Oil" movement; I was pleasantly proved otherwise.}

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