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Canola Oil: Why all the hate?

Alright Hounds,

I've been doing some research into oils recently, skimming the boards here, and I notice a disproportionate number of posts saying things like "Don't use Canola oil, it is the devil" etc.

Most of these posts make some kind of vague assertion without any backup, some of if fairly ludicrous (canola oil is made from rape seed, rape seed was used to make mustard gas, hence canola oil is dangerous like mustard gas, etc).

I just want to know what the problem is, and -if- there is a problem, can anyone point me to any research (actual science, not vague assertions by some health guru) that indicates there is anything actually wrong with Canola oil.

To summarize the negatives:

1. Rape seed has some toxic components. (but to my understanding, Canola oil's processing completely negates that)
2. Canola oil creates free radicals at high temperatures. (is that true? and if so, can someone show me any research that actually shows a negative effect of those levels of free radicals on humans?)
3. Canola oil can taste nasty at high temperatures. (fair enough, although I haven't had the problem in my own cooking).

From where I am sitting, it seems to be a pretty good source of Omega-3s and healthier than animal fat.

Anyone want to clarify these gripes with some science? I would like to make good decisions, but so far all I see on this topic is vapid and unsubstantiated rumor mill stuff.

Thanks, hounds!

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  1. Most of the stuff you hear/read about the supposed dangers of canola oil (aka rapseed oil) is just driven by Internet hysteria.

    Same group of folks who rail against HFCS.

    Are there possibly healthier alternatives to canola? Sure. But is it dangerous? No.

    3 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      HFCS has been scientifically implicated in the epidemic of obesity and diabetes II even in young children. HFCS is a real problem which is why those weird commercials are airing telling us how "natural" it is and how it's fine in "moderation" (it's in nearly every processed food). And you're telling us it's ok because...?

      The rant about canola oil is in a whole different category. I have not been convinced that it is anything but noise. Canola oil is not the be-all and the end-all; it's just another vegetable oil option. If you like it, fine. If you don't, also fine.

      1. re: chicgail

        What does "scientifically implicated" mean?

        There is as much evidence that HFCS has no effect on obesity, as there is evidence that it does affect obesity.

        Again, never confuse correlation with causation. That said, I still have no idea where "scientifically implicated" falls on that side of the equation.

        1. re: chicgail

          A recent NPR piece on HFCS (prompted by the latest Princeton press-release) pointed out the Australia is worried about obesity, and their sweetener of choice is cane sugar. As hashed out in numerous HFCS threads, it is hard to prove than HFCS is worse than sugar (with a similar blend of glucose and fructose). As with canola oil, the most vocal opponents end up complaining about how ubiquitous it is, about how processed and unnatural it is, and about monopolistic practices of companies (and government subsidies that distort the market).

      2. Well Jacques Pepin likes canola oil. He likes knowing what it is as opposed to vegetable oil.

        As far as this site goes, there are a lot of people that get themselves needlessly worked up about what's healthy and what's not. You can find something bad about anything if you look hard enough.

        1 Reply
        1. re: tonka11_99

          Well, if JP simply read the label, he'd discover vegetable oil is usually either just soybean oil by another name, or a mix of soybean and corn oils. Nothing deceptive about it.

        2. I commented earlier today in one of those threads. I'm not read-up on the subject, but I did post some links to this line of argument (links that seem to be the more reliable of the sourcs out there.) I'll re-post them below.

          Potential merits of the argument aside, form what I gather the beef stems from the chemical companies' campaigns against animal fat, in order to create a market for their products. They sold Canola as a nutritional god send, boogie-manned animal fats, and succeeded in getting most of the food service industry to switch over... only for it to be discovered that Canola wasn't what it was hyped to be.

          Who knows. I'm too turned off by the "free radicals in my mustard gas" armchair nutrition experts to dive into it much. I feel like if this had a strong scientific argument, we'd be seeing rally health conscious chefs supporting it (not that I'm very plugged into that crowd either.) Then again, everything has to start somewhere.


          Helpful chart showing the properties of various cooking oils/fats...

          I don't know how reliable the below source is (everyone has a PhD these days,) Nevertheless, its interesting reading/food for thought...

          (info on the latter sources' author: "Dr. Weston Price, whose studies of isolated nonindustrialized peoples established the parameters of human health and determined the optimum characteristics of human diets. Dr. Price's research demonstrated that humans achieve perfect physical form and perfect health generation after generation only when they consume nutrient-dense whole foods and the vital fat-soluble activators found exclusively in animal fats.")

          1. I like how it's neutral but seems to go rancid relatively quickly. And as you already pointed out, it doesn't hold up well in higher heat situations. You know how folks often will start out saying, "I really wanted to like this but..." That's exactly how I feel. As for all of that internet hysteria, like ipsedixit says, I think it gets a lot worse of a rap than it deserves. Folks have to understand that just because something shows up on the internet, it surely doesn't mean it's true - look at Yelp! :)

            16 Replies
            1. re: bulavinaka

              Pretty much, I use canola oil since its cost effective for everyday usage and I'm quite wary of "vegetable" oil.

              Personally I'd rather use grapeseed all the time but budget constraints be damned.

              1. re: Johnny L

                I was told at a young age that it was so bad and dangerous, so I stopped using it. Always used sunflower oil and grape seed, and olive oil. Peanut oil or safflower oil sometimes too.

                It sounds like one of those myths, I don't know enough but it sure scared me.

              2. re: bulavinaka

                Bulavinaka, if you think canola oil "seems to go rancid relatively quicky" it probably means you're part of the small but significant percentage of people for whom it tastes nasty. Some people only perceive a fishy taste from heated canola oil, but for some people, like me and apparently you, even the fresh, unheated oil tastes rancid.

                That's why I hate canola oil. I also hate the marketing hype behind it (include the canola oil industry's insistence that "canola oil" is not "rape seed oil"). I don't know why Jacques Pepin thinks he knows where it comes from when there's no such thing as a "canola": it's purely a made-up marketing term for the oil. Olive oil comes from olives, and corn oil comes from corn, and soybean oil comes from soybeans, but canola oil comes from ... rape seed from a plant that was initially hybrized conventionally but is now almost all genetically modified. And yes, the whole GMO/Monsanto connection is another strike against it.

                But if I liked the way it tasted I might use it. Since I don't, I don't.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  I'm another who thinks it tastes nasty, period. I've never experienced a fishy taste from canola, but it always smells/tastes off to me, and has a really unpleasant whiff of petroleum.

                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                    Hi Ruth and Caitlin,

                    I must fall into that group along with you folks. I remember when I first heard about the stuff - mid-late 80s? - and thought, "Cool - sounds like a great all-around oil that is healthy as well." After trying it numerous times in various ways, it just seemed so off to me. I thought it was because I had bought an old bottle or stored it improperly, or just had it sitting around for too long. Thanks for clarifying this for me.

                    By the by, I think the "Can" in canola stands for Canada. I remember reading this somewhere that because "rape" seed oil just didn't sound pleasant from a marketing standpoint, and because Canada was where rapeseed was first being harvested and converted into edible oil. As far as I'm concerned, they can call it anything they want. I still won't consume the stuff just because we're not a good match.

                    1. re: bulavinaka

                      I, too, thought I'd bought an old bottle and stored it improperly and I was always throwing mine out. Then one day I mentioned this to my sister who opened up a brand new bottle of high-quality canola oil for me to taste, and it still tasted bad! Yes, it's CANadian Oil Low-Acid (because before they hybridized it, rape seed oil contained erucic acid, a toxic fatty acid).

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        I just think it tastes nasty. Give me good old corn oil any day.

                    2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                      I absolutely loathe the smell of it when cooking with it. The smell, for me, is nasty, and I have tried using different brands and different bottles over the years, so it is definitely not that I used an old bottle. I'm not crazy about the flavor either.

                      1. re: RGC1982

                        I personally blend it with EVOO so the offensive smells are practically negligible.

                        1. re: taiwanesesmalleats

                          I just can't bring myself to want to cook with oil that I find smells offensive. I switch to peanut oil if I need a higher smoke temp.

                          1. re: RGC1982

                            I've recently started using very light olive oil for my deep fat frying since it's the plant sterols and other material in EVOO that makes it unsuitable for high temp cooking. It can take a good amount of heat and has a better fatty acid than either peanut or soybean(vegetable) oil. Give it a shot for the high temp cooking.

                    3. re: Ruth Lafler

                      Interesting, Ruth. I've always thought it tasted slightly rancid and maybe a ittle fishy (but not in a good way(, and it also seems to almost have a sticky residue- not quite how else to describe it.I didn't know that there were genetic canola-haters like there are genetic cilantro-haters. Now I understand the cilantro-haters a little better. ;-)

                      Anyway, I usually use the hideously costly La Tourantelle fabulous oils, or butter, or some vegetable oil- I don't cook much in oil, but I cook with it fairly often. I'ill rub a roast or whole fowl with walnut or olive oil before putting it on the grill, or coat a film on a skillet before i saute something. I do use too much butter, but if you're going to use fat, it should at least be tasty.

                      1. re: EWSflash

                        As a 12-year old once told me, "margarine's crap - if I eat too much butter, at least I'll die happy." Sounds like he was brainwashed by a parent, but he still gets the point. So did I - from the mouthes of babes...

                        1. re: bulavinaka

                          Smart kid. My kids would add that they love grilled cheese and potatoes cooked in rendered bacon fat. I scored big points when I made their grilled cheese with it. :-)

                          1. re: lynnlato

                            Another generation of Hounds has been secured in your family line! :)

                            1. re: bulavinaka

                              Oh man I hope so! It would make me so proud. ;-)

                  2. To me the real problem with Canola oil is that it's almost all genetically modified, and therefore controlled by Monsanto these days.

                    I hate Monsanto with the fiery heat of 10,000 suns. And I ain't keen on genetic modification either.

                    44 Replies
                    1. re: Ferdzy

                      why, ferdzy? why is GM inherently evil (as opposed to some specific instance or other where there is a known problem)?

                      as to the OP - for me it is simple - i've had canola oil get a nasty fishy taste too many times t care to try again

                      1. re: thew

                        Ditto, I have no inherent problems with GM foods (some of which are saving lives all over the world) and haven't seen any research to indicate any actual problems with it. I mean, given the choice, sure, natural is nice, but I'm not convinced GM foods pose any danger.

                        1. re: thew


                          Avoid canola oil because you find that it is not a good cooking oil -- e.g. bad taste, etc.

                          Don't avoid it because it is GM, from big Ag, from Canada, or because Internet hysteria.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            Or, bury your head in the sand and ignore the warning signals. Scientists in Russia recently released a report about their experiments feeding GM soy to hamsters. No apparent problems IN THE FIRST GENERATION. Some problems in their offspring. In their grandchildren: sterility.

                            GMO's have only been around for less than two decades. Thanks, but no thanks...I'm thinking Big Picture and Long Term, here. I'll pass. I want my grandkids to be able to reproduce.


                            1. re: Beckyleach

                              That study, preliminary as it may be and not (yet) published or peer reviewed, provides findings about canola oil that have been around for years now. It's not exactly ground shaking.

                              I don't have a strong opinion one way or another about GMOs, but I just don't believe that one should jump to hysterical conclusions based on conflicting science.

                              1. re: Beckyleach

                                I haven't looked at this report but I wonder if they had a control group consuming "regular" non-GMO soy? Also, are hamsters even built to consume soy? I also wonder if the Russian scientists accounted for the naturally occurring estrogen in soy... I would think if consuming nothing but soy - hamster or nonhamster - some form of mutation is bound to occur just from the overload of estrogen alone. The amounts of the the products consumed by lab animals in these types of studies are typically exponentially greater relative to size than what humans would consume within the same time period. I don't blame you if you want to be cautious about GMO-altered food - that's your call. But so many of these studies are flawed from the start, so always play devil's advocate when scrutinizing the results.

                                1. re: Beckyleach

                                  Dude, did you even read the article you linked to? Money quote:

                                  At the conclusion of the study, the authors surmise that such an astounding defect may be due to the diet of hamsters raised in the laboratory. They write, "This pathology may be exacerbated by elements of the food that are absent in natural food, such as genetically modified (GM) ingredients (GM soybean or maize meal) or contaminants (pesticides, mycotoxins, heavy metals, etc.)." Indeed, the number of hairy mouthed hamsters was much higher among the third generation of GM soy fed animals than anywhere Surov had seen before.

                                  Surov warns against jumping to early conclusions. He said, "It is quite possible that the GMO does not cause these effects by itself." Surov wants to make the analysis of the feed components a priority, to discover just what is causing the effect and how.

                                  ... uh, so basically even the guys running this yet-to-be-published and reviewed by the scientific community study are already padding it with the "yeah, so there could be other variables we missed" statements.

                                  That's not exactly strong science on which to base an assertion that we're "burying our heads." That's about the same logic as the anti-vax crowd uses to try to link autism to childhood vaccines. An unpublished study that no one has even been able to review the setup of, and for which the methodology has not even been made fully transparent? Really? And the rest is just the hack author slinging around ominous language (because, you know, -he's- unbiased).

                                  Just show me the science. I'll convert to any viewpoint with verifiable, repeatable evidence.

                                  1. re: fr1p

                                    Thanks, but I'll go ahead and "convert" (since, really, what's the price? Extra virgin olive oil instead of yucky-tasting canola?) on the basis of some reasonable doubt, myself. The trade off isn't painful and the long term results of extreme skepticism may, indeed, be so.

                                2. re: ipsedixit

                                  I don't like Monsanto because they patent food. It's makes farmers economically dependent on the company. It's unnecessary and sucks.

                                  Why would we want to give some company economic power over food -- they'll just drive the price up, or at least shift the profit margin away form farmers and to themselves. Sounds stupid.

                                  If buying Canola makes Monsanto's hand stronger, than I buy something else. We didn't have this element (patenting seed/livestock) in the economics of food production up until recently. We don't need it.

                                  1. re: Russel Shank

                                    Just don't seem to understand economics.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      I understand economics perfectly well. Our entire agricultural catalog previous to a few decades ago, was developed through selective breeding and the sharing of seed. All of mankind benefited, and a patent incentive wasn't needed to prompt farmers to develop the millions breeds of animals and species of flora.

                                      Even without direct patent on seed, Monsanta still has an economically sustainable model in its RoundUp sales. The only reason to patent the seed its applied to, is to squeeze the farmer at both ends. All moral arguments aside, the tax payer interest in not driving farmers to near poverty (by transferring their profit margin to their seed and pesticide provider) is that tax payers wont be subsidizing the social services of impoverished farmers -- after all, farming is a gamble more than most businesses. More over, the patent seed/pesticide model and the volatile nature of farming drives farmers into serious debt with their banks, product buyers, and seed/pesticide providers. This doesn't serve the eating public or the economy well, because it restricts a farmer's ability to respond to changing market demands, which inevitably leads to an unnecessary increase in prices and unsold/destroyed crop.

                                      Agricultural life patents don't drive innovation that benefits public nutrition, market demand, or alleviate 'hunger/' Its just a means of altering an existing "product" to secure a patent on it, to extract a profit.

                                      I'm fine with free markets in most other areas of the economy, but sectors like food and health care (which are necessities one cannot opt out of), and which can have a tremendous destabilizing impact on society if rocked by the volatility of totally free markets.. need to be approached differently.

                                      You seem to be a little snide and goading people here, so I wont treat this like a normal discussion. Since I don't think you're interested in exploring the question, as much as you want to play devil's advocate and make snide comments for your personal satisfaction, I'll end it here. Just wanted to lay down the rest of my argument.

                                      We pay incredibly low prices for food at the store, but we make up the difference in our taxes, which go to subsidize cheap agriculture directly, and the farmers directly through welfare when their reduced profits and increased debt make them tremendously vulnerable during crop failures.

                                      1. re: Russel Shank

                                        "I'm fine with free markets in most other areas of the economy, but sectors like food and health care (which are necessities one cannot opt out of), and which can have a tremendous destabilizing impact on society if rocked by the volatility of totally free markets.. need to be approached differently ....

                                        We pay incredibly low prices for food at the store, but we make up the difference in our taxes, which go to subsidize cheap agriculture directly, and the farmers directly through welfare when their reduced profits and increased debt make them tremendously vulnerable during crop failures"


                                        [slaps forehead]

                                        You should move to a country where captialism is forbidden.

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          Please dude. I studied econ throughout school, but you you only need a loose grasp of economics and some common sense to parse what I said. The belief that free markets are a panacea for delivering the lowest cost product, tot he most individuals possible is an ideologue's fantasy. Free markets are great for driving innovation, but they also restrict access to goods and lose cost-savings in redundancy compared to near or actual monopolies. The reason we generally prohibit monopoly (publicly or privately owned) is that its benefits are short lived, they stifle innovation, and are too easily anti-competitive. yadda yadda yadda.

                                          I'm not sure you point -- I actually ended my argument with a pro-capitalism/free market position. We subsidize agriculture directly, and indirectly b/c the system makes business so tenuous for the farmers. I don't like the tax subsidies. My beef is with the source of ti, which is a disproportionately powerful monopoly in agriculture. Monsanto uses this power to levy influence on Congress, to increase subsidization and diffuse anti-trust investigations.

                                          The agriculture policy in place isn't a free market capitalist one, it is a subsidized (better known recently by the misused handle, "socialism") corporatist one, which, by its neglect, the DoJ is party abetting.

                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            This is "redbaiting". Anyone who dares question the predations of agribusiness is advocating a North Korean system? Come now. EU countries also have strict controls on GMOs.

                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              I somehow doubt he was advocating the North Korean model.

                                              1. re: lagatta

                                                the North Korean model has changed since 2010 - so actually he might be.....

                                        2. re: Russel Shank

                                          Patenting may new, but there's nothing new about farmers between 'squeezed' between their suppliers and their buyers (who at times were one and the same).

                                          1. re: paulj

                                            >>(who at times were one and the same).<<

                                            No kidding - and oftentimes their neighbor, fellow churchgoers, etc. etc.

                                        3. re: ipsedixit

                                          Here, here, Ipsedixit! Right on point, and insightful further upthread, as usual!

                                          As for me, I thought that the big plus of canola oil (to other people), endlessly touted in advertisements and magazine articles, was that it had a higher percentage of monounsaturated fats than everything except olive oil. Hence, it was healthier for you.

                                          I don't worry about cholesterol or monounsaturated fats or polyunsaturated fats. I like peanut oil for its high smoke point and flavor and olive oil for its flavor.

                                        4. re: thew

                                          Thew, I don't get a fishy taste, but there is a distinctive, acrid smell when you fry with canola. Now if they could genetically modify the rapeseed to remove that scent, I might consider going back. :)

                                          1. re: thew

                                            Thew, it's not so much that GM is inherently evil - although I think there is a lot we don't know about it yet, and the idea that "we'll just do it and see what happens" is one that needs to stop. We're going to do ourselves and our planet in with that attitude one of these days.

                                            The real problem with GM is that it allows multi-national corporations such as Monsanto and multi-national corporations ONLY to own the supply of seed. As such, I don't see GM doing any good in the world, even if GM actually created any major improvements in food quality and nutrition, which I'm not at all convinced it does.

                                            You can read more about some of the issues here: http://www.organicconsumers.org/monli...

                                            1. re: Ferdzy

                                              ... Except for like, the ability to let farmers in difficult agrarian regions plant hardy crops fortified with life saving nutrients that will potentially improve the lives of millions.....


                                              1. re: fr1p

                                                exactly. hardier crops to grow in the expanding sub-saharan regions that are rife with malnutrition and starvation. pest resistant plants that don't need the pesticides that are contaminating ground water. crops enhanced for greater nutrition, or greater health benefits. these are all potentially very good things, no?

                                                I'm not saying jump in blind. I'm saying don't refuse blindly either.

                                                I'm no fan of monsanto, but the article points out corporate malfeasance, not problems with GM crops.

                                                1. re: thew

                                                  Not saying that you're espousing what was said in the article, so don't take this personally. But that article doesn't "point out corporate malfeasance." Rather, it contains false allegations of corporate malfeasance.

                                                  Despite what the article says, not even Percy Schmeiser claimed that his crops "were contaminated with Monsanto's genetically engineered Round-Up Ready Canola by pollen from a nearby farm." He claimed he didn't know how the stuff got on his land and posited cross-pollination as one possible explanation for how he came to be in possession of patented seeds that he didn't buy. Another of his theories was that the seed fell off passing trucks.

                                                  But the judge hearing the case found that the commercial quantities of GM canola on Mr. Schmeiser's property and their distribution in his fields rendered his theories about how it got there there improbable at best. Unless, of course, you take "it fell off a truck" in the idomatic sense.

                                                  And what Mr. Schmeiser had an even harder time explaining was why, if he wanted to grown non-GM canola, he sprayed his crops with Roundup to kill all the non-GM plants. Basically, he wanted to grow Roundup-ready canola; he just didn't want to pay for it.

                                                  Now Mr. Schmeiser has become a darling of the organics movement. Seems like they could have picked a poster child who was a little more honest. Or who at least was interested in growing non-GM crops. Go figure.

                                                  There are plenty of good reasons to bash Monsanto. I've got major issues with the way they do business and the control they exercise over our public policymakers. So why not focus on those legitimate complaints instead of repeating urban legends and outright lies?

                                            2. re: thew

                                              I recommend you watch the movie Food, Inc. to learn about how the patenting of GM seeds threatens to put independent farmers out of business. It's pretty scary.

                                              1. re: Reposado

                                                And putting independent farmers out of business is scary ... how?

                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                  Putting aside the human cost and the thuggish practices frequently employed, one major concern many people have is the loss of seed stock diversity, the dumbing down of our food products and the potential for substantial problems if a disease or pest hits the GM crop and there is no other alternative available.

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    How is it NOT scary? Frankly, I find it disturbing that someone would suggest that there's no harm in shutting down local farms.

                                                    I think local farmers are a great resource for our communities. I like knowing the person who grew my tomatoes. I am thrilled that the local food movement is flourishing.

                                                    1. re: lynnlato

                                                      Nice and all, but what I think ipsedixit is getting at is that "liking" the idea of knowing your farmer doesn't actually have a practical value. it's just something that makes you feel better. All things being equal, what matters is dependable access to good quality crops, and that -who- provides those crops is only part of the consideration. "dumbing down" of seed stock is sort of a nebulous attack (Reposado) as is the idea that there would be no other alternative (adopting a GM crop doesn't mean wiping out non-gm crops). That's not to say I'm a huge fan of these practices, but to defend ipsedixit: Having a distaste for something is different from outcome-based practicality. On a personal note, I take part in a lot of local farm stuff here in Cambridge, and frankly, the local farmers deal with a lot less scrutiny than the big corporate farmers... i'm less worried about a megacorp. If Monsanto were exposing its products to harmful chemicals regularly, you'd likely hear about it. If your local farmer (who operates out of the back of a truck or through a small coop) does the same, no one's the wiser. Just sayin'. Local doesn't mean safer.

                                                      1. re: fr1p


                                                        You wipe out Monsanto, another company will take its place. It's like weeds in the garden, it's part of the natural forces of the free market.

                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                          Perfect opening for me to say - "hey, speaking of weeds and Monsanto..."


                                                          And btw, do you happen to know the last time this country had a free market in agriculture (you know - one without things like price controls for sugar or crop subsidies for corn)? I think it was somewhere in the 1920's, but I'm not sure.

                                                  2. re: Reposado

                                                    again - my questioning was not about business practices. it was about whether there is anything inherently wrong with the concept of genetically modifying food.

                                                    besides we have been doing it for at least 10,000 years or longer. corn is a genetically modified food.

                                                    1. re: thew

                                                      There's a difference between hybridizing to maximize favorable genetic characteristics that occur naturally in different variations in the same life form and artificially splicing in a gene from a completely unrelated, often a completely different class of life form. You can put them both under the same umbrella of "genetic modification" if you want to, but that doesn't make them the same.

                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                        no they are not the same. but neither is inherently wrong or evil.

                                                      2. re: thew

                                                        As you say, we have been genetically modifying plants and animals for years via processes of selective, cross- and in-breeding. Now the 'scientists' can extract a portion of DNA from one 'thing', project it into another, thus gaining protection against disease, increasing yields or allowing a crop a greater range. Maybe this could have been achieved over may generations by cross-breeding. The cut-and-paste option seems more efficient (and maybe even safer) than hybridization techniques.
                                                        We seem to be confusing and conflating two separate issues;

                                                        1) is genetically modified food unsafe (for us or the planet) ?
                                                        2) should be allow agri-business to gain greater control ?

                                                        In terms of Canola oil, I don't have any objections to its flavour. It certainly has (for me) less taste than sesame or peanut oil. The dislike may be associated with some form of 'supertaste' ability although I cannot find any evidence for that supposition.

                                                        1. re: thew

                                                          thew: "besides we have been doing it for at least 10,000 years or longer. corn is a genetically modified food."

                                                          and corn is the root of a lot of evils.

                                                          1. re: hillsbilly

                                                            Off-topic I know, but....

                                                            Hell hath no fury like a woman's corns.

                                                            1. re: hillsbilly

                                                              corn is also the root of many great civilizations, and a lot of good food

                                                              1. re: hillsbilly

                                                                Great. So now we've gone from vilifying a variation on a traditional crop to vilifying one of the most important crops in the world.

                                                                Corn is not the root of any evils. Monoculture is the root of a lot of evils. Corporate welfare is the root of a lot of evils. Predatory practices are the root of a lot of evils. Turning food from something grown by a farmer into something produced in a laboratory is the root of a lot of evils.

                                                                But you can do all those things with crops other than corn. (See, e.g. modern processing of soybeans.) Corn isn't the problem, it's what people do with it.

                                                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                  while i don't agree with the farmer/lab point entirely, i agree with the rest of this.

                                                                  i can take a hammer and build a house, or i can take a hammer and smash you in the head. the hammer has nothing to do with it.

                                                        2. re: Ferdzy

                                                          I'm with Ferdzy. Plus the stuff tastes nasty.

                                                          Just some basic research on the risks of GM crops contaminating other pure crops should make you think. There IS an inherent value in having diversity and non-GM affected crops. And they don't know about the risks to folks with allergies. And, and, and. Lots of unknowns.

                                                          And if that doesn't make you worry, than the simple fact that Monsanto is behind it should. That's like being blase about BP's role in the current oil spill.

                                                          1. re: Ferdzy

                                                            " I hate Monsanto with the fiery heat of 10,000 suns. And I ain't keen on genetic modification either. "

                                                            Ferdzy is my hero

                                                            1. re: Ferdzy


                                                              I have no love for Monsanto and their Roundup Ready crap (I suppose they have a Roundup ready Canola seed), but let's not go Luddite on the rape plant just because somebody (I don't particulary care if it was Monsanto) made it less toxic (no surprise the changed the name, by the way). Which raises the question: why do they call oil made from soy beans "vegetable oil"? I was greatly disappointed when I found out that vegetable oil was not cold pressed from carrots, celery, spinach and such.

                                                              On yet another subject, I had no idea some folks found the taste and smell of Canola oil offensive. Is that why not everyone likes my fish and chips?

                                                              This is starting to sound like a bad Jerry Seinfeld routine, so I'll stop now.

                                                              1. re: Zeldog

                                                                Monsanto definitely has a Roundup-ready canola. It's the plant that gave rise to the urban myth that the company is filing oppressive lawsuits against small farmers whose crops were inadvertently cross-pollinated with patented genes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto...

                                                                On the issue of taste and smell - canola can definitely be unpleasantly "fishy," especially when heated. I refuse to use the stuff any more.

                                                            2. I am another of those who heard years ago that it was a 'bad' oil so I don't use it. I always use either olive oil or corn oil, occasionally sesame.

                                                              1. I bought it for years and years out of guilt because it is supposed to be better for you than other cooking oil. But, frankly, the smell of it makes me gag so now I'm frying with a blend of pretty healthy oils (soy, sunflower, etc.), or sauteeing in olive oil and/or butter, I figure that I fry so rarely anyway, that it really does not make a whole lot of difference. We're talking stir-frying here, not deep frying.

                                                                1. You have to remember something. Some people will never let facts get in the way of their opinion. If you show them evidence to the contrary of their argument, they'll condemn that source and show you another.

                                                                  Look at organic. There are people, no matter what you say, believe that organic produce tastes better. Even though there is no way to quantify that.
                                                                  There are those who feel that eating vegetarian is healthier even though humans are designed to eat meat.

                                                                  The bottom line is, you need to form your own opinion. Take arguments from both sides and weigh them.

                                                                  I really think your answer is up thread a bit. It just doesn't seem to be a good cooking oil.


                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Davwud

                                                                    Agreed. I was hoping to get some people on this thread who could provide me with some "Canola oil is bad because of X and here's the science to back it up" style comments, but it's already degenerated into "I hate corporations" and "yeah man, but WHAT IF, like WHAT IF, brother???" type stuff.

                                                                    I'm completely willing to never buy another bottle of Canola oil again if anyone can give me some sound reasoning and research. They wouldn't even have to twist my arm.

                                                                    Though I do get the taste issue (which I don't have a problem with personally).

                                                                    1. re: fr1p

                                                                      I think one reason there's so much anti-Canola oil hyperbole is that there was so much pro-Canola oil hyperbole.

                                                                      It was introduced and marketed through a lot of deceptive (including the name), self-serving marketing (what marketing isn't?) as the best, healthiest, etc. oil and a lot of people swallowed (pun intended) that line without even looking at the issues surrounding it.

                                                                      A lot of people (including me) react badly to this approach, which takes advantage of the fact that most people will take health-based claims at face value and not look beyond the surface.

                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                        On top of that, the marketing campaign has encouraged decision-makers in the food industry to adopt canola to ride the positive wave of association, but with results like fishy tastes in fried foods (I can always tell when a place that makes french fries is going through its infatuation with canola phase). Over time, more places learn not to use canola exclusively, due to customer feedback about the fishy aftertaste its prone to reveal to a portion of the customer base.

                                                                  2. I don't buy canola because I strongly dislike the fishy aftertaste (not everyone can taste it, but a lot of people can - it's palate-dependent) I typically got with it in high-heat cooking. I don't need it - it's got a great marketing effort that many recipe writers have unfortunately rather mindlessly bought into by specifying its use. BIttman is someone who used to do this and then, without explaining, now places canola on his not recommended oils list.

                                                                    1. I use canola oil for frying and sauteing almost exclusively over vegetable oil because I think it has a higher smoke point and holds up longer. That is just my impression, I haven't researched it. If the store was out of canola, I wouldn't hesitate to use vegetable or even corn oil.

                                                                      There are a few things I like to saute in butter but unless it is clarified it has a pretty low smoke point.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: tonka11_99

                                                                        "I use canola oil for frying and sauteing almost exclusively over vegetable oil because I think it has a higher smoke point and holds up longer."

                                                                        I don't use canola because it really doesn't seem to hold up well under high heat. I used to make oven hash browns regularly. I'd toss the potatoes in canola and roast them at 425. The baking sheet always came out coated with a sticky glaze that was horrible to scrub off. It made me not trust the stuff. I no longer use anything but olive oil.

                                                                        1. re: CathleenH

                                                                          >>The baking sheet always came out coated with a sticky glaze that was horrible to scrub off.<<

                                                                          +1 on this sticky resinous glaze. But why limit yourself to just olive oil? There are so many oils for so many purposes - many of which are IMHO are far superior to olive oil for those specific tasks.

                                                                      2. Although there's nothing definitive out there (YET), I find the potential for problems enough to send me looking elsewhere for my cooking oils.

                                                                        I've switched to organic, home-rendered lard, which has more mono-saturated than saturated fats (and the lipid study linking saturated fat to heart disease has been pretty thoroughly debunked by the scientific community lately, especially when one realizes that hydrogenated oils were included in the "bad" group, muddying the results. @@)) and when from pastured hogs, is an incredible source of vitamin D, as well.


                                                                        And I occasionally fry in peanut oil. I use olive oil for low heat cooking. Mostly, though, I just don't fry anything at high temps, as it's better for me just to avoid the deep fat fried foods altogether.

                                                                        I mean, stuff like this just doesn't do it for me:

                                                                        Canola oil's real name is "LEAR" oil (Low Erucic Acid Rape). It is more commonly known as "rape oil," a semi-drying oil that is used as a lubricant, fuel, soap and synthetic rubber base, and as an illuminant to give color pages in magazines their slick look. In short it is an industrial oil that does not belong in the human body. It is typically referred to in light industry as a penetrating oil. Canola oil is a GM or genetically modified product You have read about GM foods? If not, you need to go to our page about such products..

                                                                        In addition, a recent report from the EPA (1998) states that they have classified canola oil as a biopesticide which ..."has low chronic toxicities". Further, they say that no studies have been done regarding toxic effects on Humans. The fact that they state that it is a pesticide and that there have been no studies, plus the fact it is a GM food, says to us it is something to stay away from! It is like so many other things "they" say are good for us like fluoride, canola oil and fluoride both accumulate and build up in the Human systems. "


                                                                        26 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Beckyleach

                                                                          If I'm sauteeing something I use pastured butter. For salad dressings I'll use olive oil and I make mayo with nut oils. I just got a few chunks of fatback from pastured hogs from my co-op so I think there'll be some lard-renderin' this weekend. I like some taste in my fats and I don't mean fish from frankencanola oil. If it's whipped up in a laboratory I'm not eating it.

                                                                          1. re: Beckyleach

                                                                            That yahoo link is curious. One answer links to snopes. Another answer just repeats the story that snopes rejects. Why should we believe this 'anjee'?

                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                              Because she's really, really sincere. You should always believe sincere people. Even if they're quite apparently crazy.

                                                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                Really, if you don't want to be convinced, it's not a matter of concern to me. More power to you!

                                                                                Everyone has to make their own health and lifestyle decisions, based on what they perceive as reliable information, or at least actions that minimize apparent risk.

                                                                                I seriously doubt anyone out there wants to pry your canola oil out of your cold, dead hands...but given that choosing NOT to consume it is such an easy choice, and has such palatable alternatives, for me, the potential risks (whether "stone cold science" at this point, or not) are sufficient to lead me to make the choice I have.

                                                                                "When in doubt, throw it out" works for me: http://www.naturalnews.com/026365_can...


                                                                                1. re: Beckyleach

                                                                                  I don't use canola oil, but neither do I believe everything I read. It's certainly your prerogative to throw something out just because a crackpot has posted an irrational screed against it on the internet. But if you're going to apply that criterion consistently, your house will very quickly become very empty.

                                                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                    Interesting how a multiplicity of sources of varying degrees of credibility becomes, in your simplistic view, "A crackpot." ;-)

                                                                                    I've spent the past 25 years professionally evaluating academic scholarship pertinent to Foodways and culinary research...My Ph.D. work was in culinary history, in fact, and as a result I'm quite conversant in the ups and downs, ebb and flow, and acclaim and repudiation of a long list of food myths, trends, claims and fads. I know how to evaluate (and weigh and discard) source materials.

                                                                                    Enjoy your canola. I sincerely hope you aren't sorry some day.

                                                                                    1. re: Beckyleach

                                                                                      >>Enjoy your canola>>>Or not, as I see now.

                                                                                      So, tell me, why do YOU eschew it? I'm sure there is a wonderful, totally scientific, absolutely well substantiated, completely reliable and unimpeachably RATIONAL reason, eh? Wouldn't want to risk falling for "crankpot" notions, now, would we?

                                                                                      (By the way, I suggest you go refresh your familiarity with the meaning of the term "Straw Man" because you just built a boffo one, here, with this implied assertion: "but neither do I believe everything I read"

                                                                                      Just an FYI: I also taught Argumentation and Persuasion--including how to spot logical fallacies---at the university where I, too, learned not to believe "everything I read." ;-)

                                                                                      1. re: Beckyleach

                                                                                        In order to believe everything one reads, one must first read something carefully enough to believe it. That appears not to be the case here.

                                                                                        I made a comment that was specifically directed to a question about why we should believe comments written by "Anjee" on answers.yahoo.com. Those comments, while passionate, were demonstrably false. And the snopes.com article that demonstrated their falsity (also linked on the yahoo.com page) quoted the conspiracy-theory email from which she cut and pasted her assertions.

                                                                                        The fact that you then quoted Anjee verbatim in the face of this information causes me to question whether you really "know how to evaluate (and weigh and discard) source materials." Especially since you followed up with a link to an article on NaturalNews.com that is based on unqualified generalities worthy of the National Enquirer.

                                                                                        For example, the author makes the naked claim that "[s]ome health professionals believe there is still too much erucic acid present in the oil for safe use." Really? Do these professionals have names? Or qualifications? Or any evidence to support their beliefs?

                                                                                        Of course, that author, a self-proclaimed "Citizen Journalist" (does that make her more credible than a Permanent Resident Alien Journalist?) lacks your stellar academic credentials. But I'll give you a hint: bragging about your resume in an anonymous forum doesn't enhance your credibility. As I noted in my Nobel Prize acceptance speech, the road to my MacArthur Fellowship began with the realization that on the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog.

                                                                                        I'm not saying that canola oil presents no health hazards. I have major issues with the business practices of some of the larger companies that produce seed for the "canola" plants. And I certainly take exception to the marketing hype that accompanied the introduction of this stuff to our supermarkets. But claims that it's Satan's semen just aren't very credible.

                                                                                        For my part, I don't like the way the stuff tastes or smells. Scientific? Nope. Purely aesthetic.

                                                                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                          Who was it who recently talked about how it drove Dr. Fujisaka crazy when someone would read and then quote from questionable to ridiculous sources and tout it as "solid science."

                                                                                          I'm with you. I don't care for the taste and that's why I don't use it. Period.

                                                                                      2. re: Beckyleach

                                                                                        I'm totally open to hearing legitimate reasons why I should not use canola oil and I don't normally use it. But do you have links to any sorts of peer-reviewed studies or data of that nature? A link to yahoo answerssimply isn't compelling to me.

                                                                                        1. re: mollyomormon

                                                                                          "But do you have links to any sorts of peer-reviewed studies or data of that nature?"


                                                                                          That's just it ... there is none. At least no peer-reviewed studies that show canola oil actually CAUSING harmful health effects -- either in humans, lab rats, cockroaches, fungus, those stupid gnats on hot summer days or even their distant cousins ...

                                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                            I had seen the email several years ago that is the source of this urban legend, but I had no idea that its effect was so pervasive as to actually cause people to stop using canola oil for health reasons. It sounds like others on this thread have stopped using it for political reasons, which is more understandable to me.

                                                                              2. re: Beckyleach

                                                                                I'm very interested in this part: and the lipid study linking saturated fat to heart disease has been pretty thoroughly debunked by the scientific community lately, especially when one realizes that hydrogenated oils were included in the "bad" group, muddying the results. @@

                                                                                Can you point me to some of the data concerning this?

                                                                                Yeah, the foggy thinking on "canola oil is a pesticide, so it must be poison!" is vexing and shows a lack of critical thinking, you are right. Just because something is classified as a pesticide doesn't mean it is a problem for humans. Many oils meet pesticide spec because they block the ability for pests to breathe through their shells via "spiracles" (the breathing holes along the sides of arthropod bodies). Humans use lungs to breathe, so unless you are pouring oil into your lungs, you're unlikely to have the same problem.

                                                                                But it is pretty amazing how weirdly defensive people get on this topic, even though it basically boils down to "hey, just show me some proof instead of speculation." It's almost like nutrition is turning into a belief system for some people.

                                                                                1. re: fr1p

                                                                                  "It's almost like nutrition is turning into a belief system for some people."

                                                                                  Almost? Run into a vegan lately? ;)

                                                                                  1. re: fr1p

                                                                                    I'm sorry, but there are so many links to this that I'm not sure which one won't be scoffed at. I suggest you just Google it....However, here's a fairly convincing list (put together by an M.D. and Ph.D.) of other medical professionals and scientists casting doubt on the seminal study that launched the "cholesterol is bad for you" promotion:


                                                                                    1. re: Beckyleach

                                                                                      This argument is getting a bit heated, but I couldn't resist checking out your convincing list, plus the link to a page of citations. At the top of the list is Mary Enig, who's only citation is a report, apparently self published, by Enig Associates (I googled Enig Associates and they seem to be involved in designing nuclear weapons, but that must be a different Enig. At least I hope so). I looked on PubMed, which is a major search site for articles published in peer-reviewed medical journals, and found absolutely nothing under her name. I didn't check PubMed for the others, but some of the experts are:

                                                                                      Gurr -- one citation in 1992. He is the sole author, which indicates this is an opinion article, not a report on original research.

                                                                                      Mann - 3 citations between 1964 and 1985, one of which is about heart disease among the Masai tribe.

                                                                                      Oliver -- one journal paper published in 1987

                                                                                      Pinckney -- nothing peer reviewed. A book or pamphlet published in 1973(!) titled The Cholesterol Controversy

                                                                                      Rosch -- Nothing, not even in their own citations, although he is claimed to have "published several articles about the cholesterol hypothesis and the diet-heart idea".

                                                                                      So the list of MDs and PhDs is unimpressive, and I am certainly not going to base my conclusions about anything on information that was available 18 to 56 years ago, let alone the opinion someone held at that time.

                                                                                      1. re: Zeldog

                                                                                        Here's a summary of a recent study
                                                                                        that claims that atherosclerosis is an immune response to cholesterol:

                                                                                        "Cholesterol is transported in the blood in LDL particles, which are a kind of fat drops that can accumulate in the walls of blood vessels. LDL activates the immune defence and triggers an inflammation in the blood vessels that leads to atherosclerosis (also known as arteriosclerosis). When the atherosclerotic plaque finally ruptures, a blood clot is formed that in turn can cause a heart attack or stroke."

                                                                                  2. re: Beckyleach

                                                                                    The current EPA factsheet on canola


                                                                                    "Canola oil is an edible refined vegetable oil obtained from the seeds of four species of rape plants, Brassica napus, Brassica juncea, Brassica rapa and B. campestris of the family Cruciferae (mustard family). Canola oil is considered safe for human consumption. Scientists believe that canola oil repels insects by altering the outer layer of the leaf surface or by acting as an insect irritant."

                                                                                    Note that they use the word 'repels', not 'kills'.

                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                      Also note that is says "believes" which means they don't really know for sure. See, everything can be read a different way!

                                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                        Digging a bit further:
                                                                                        The EPA page defining biopesticides

                                                                                        another biopesticide that we all use
                                                                                        "Potassium bicarbonate and sodium bicarbonate are naturally occurring compounds that are not expected to have adverse effects on humans or the environment when used as fungicides. Use of these two compounds in pesticide products may provide an alternative to more toxic fungicides currently on the market."

                                                                                        Note the 'not expected'. Does that mean they haven't given baking soda a real careful test? What if it really is toxic to humans?

                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                          I would read that to say that they haven't bothered to test baking soda in that specific context, because it's generally recognized as safe, even under more intensive exposures. They parse that language all the time: you don't always want to go through the trouble of actually doing expensive tests to prove something. For example, there's an antihistamine that touts the fact that it's the only one in its class "proven" to be effective on both indoor and outdoor allergens. All that means is that they actually went to the trouble of doing specific tests on specific types of allergens, not that their competitors' anti-histamines aren't equally effective.

                                                                                          Anyway, when it comes to something that is specifically used to have an adverse effect on a living creature, I'd prefer them to know how it works rather than just "believe" it works a certain way. But just to be clear, I don't believe that canola oil is harmful for any of the reasons stated in any of those scare stories. I just think it's nasty.

                                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                            From a recent Wired Science item:
                                                                                            "More than half a century after DEETs invention, scientistss still don't know how the popular mosquito repellent works" It goes on to describe research that has narrowed the effect to particular sensor (sensillum).

                                                                                            Use often precedes a full understanding of the underlying mechanisms.

                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                              But I'm not going to put DEET in my salad dressing, and I assume you aren't, either.

                                                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                I wouldn't be surprised if canola oil was found to be an excellent pest repellent. I think even mosquitos would find the stuff not to their liking.

                                                                                    2. I don't use canola because it has a disgusting and lingering mouth-feel. I don't know if it is healthy or unhealthy -- to me it's just nasty.

                                                                                      1. Here's a question:

                                                                                        I bought Canola oil by accident once -- I was reaching for regular Crisco vegetable oil and picked up the Canola by mistake. (This happens to me all the time; last week I went to get the Italian sausages I'd bought for a pasta dish and found that i'd bought fresh Brats with cheddar instead.)

                                                                                        I used it, but I found that in pan frying and sauteeing, it, well, spit a lot -- there was significantly more spatter than I was used to.

                                                                                        Has anybody else seen this? I mean, I was cleaning the stovetop, the counters, and everything on the counters almost constantly until the stuff was gone!

                                                                                        1. One thing I DEEPLY hate is the mixes of olive oil and canola that are sneakily "almost" marketed as olive oil. And we could be getting fed this stuff in restaurants that we assume are using olive oil.

                                                                                          1. I can tell you why I have personal hate for canola oil

                                                                                            1. Explosive diarrhea
                                                                                            2. Food poisoning like stomach pain
                                                                                            3. Numb legs from spending hours on the can

                                                                                            It ruins my day whenever I eat it. I don't care what the internet says I don't feed to to my family. It took me 5 years to figure out what was making me sick and ruining my days. Thankfully I found out what it was before they started putting it in EVERYTHING.

                                                                                            I need a time machine so I can go back and stop this madness.

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Professional_Peon

                                                                                              I have a friend who also has a severe allergy to it. Now, I'm not saying that to demonize canola oil; lots of people have severe allergies to all sorts of generally innocuous foodstuffs. But as you say, the problem is its ubiquity.

                                                                                              1. re: Professional_Peon

                                                                                                I laughed out loud at this post - sorry, but man... very funny! If its any consolation, I have the same reaction to bagged lettuce. It's brutal.

                                                                                                1. re: Professional_Peon

                                                                                                  After a couple of years of trying to find out why my stomach got so upset when I ate certain things, I have also found that canola oil kills my stomach. Since more and more restaurants are using it I am having to stay away from them. I truly hate canola oil now. It started with fried eggs. I thought it was the eggs but I could eat them boiled without a problem but my wife was using canola oil. I could not eat mayonaisse anymore which I thought at first was the egg in it but I later found out it had canola oil in it. Since we have switched to olive oil or peanut oil and quit using soft margarine with canola oil and started using real butter again, I don't have anymore stomach problems except at restaurants that use canola.

                                                                                                2. ok, so if I decide to buy into all the negative stuff...what oil can I use that has very little flavor AND has some health benefits? Would light or non-virgin olive oil fit the bill? It's pretty expensive to use as my everday oil especially when using a lot of it such as in mayo etc.

                                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: sparkareno

                                                                                                    Light or non-virgin olive oil will work. Grapeseed oil has a very neutral flavor and high smoke point (not cheap, but reasonable if you buy it in Middle Eastern markets). I think the health benefits of different types of oils are overstated.

                                                                                                    1. re: sparkareno

                                                                                                      If you can find it, olive pomace oil is ideal. Neutral flavor, high smoke point, and olive oil's lipid profile. I think I paid $15 for a gallon of the stuff, so it isn't too expensive, either.

                                                                                                        1. re: sparkareno

                                                                                                          I got it at a restaurant supply place. It came in a 1-gallon can.

                                                                                                          1. re: sparkareno

                                                                                                            It's often available in 'Chinese' supermarkets. I will use it if I don't want olive oil's distinctive flavour. Here in Canada it is $10 -> $20 for 3 litres.

                                                                                                            And AB is right in saying the smoke point is high. There is no other 'budget' oil with a higher smoke point.

                                                                                                            1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                                                              I just watched the entire video of The Dangers of Genetically Modified Food - Jeffery Smith Lecture - FULL VERSION:


                                                                                                              Apparently Canola has GMOs. I don't know if I believe Jeffery Smith. I heard GMOs are scary but I doubt they are that scary. I don't like it when people blame the government and big industry too much. People who always complain about the government sound like chicken little.

                                                                                                              1. re: Bottomless_Pit

                                                                                                                I just watched this video.... it's mostly pseudo-scientific idiocy. Where's the data? Where's the proof. The information referenced here seems mostly political, and not very science based.

                                                                                                        2. re: sparkareno


                                                                                                          There seems to be little agreement on what a healthy oil is, but if you want little taste, low saturated fat, and high monounsaturated fat (which just about everyone seems to think is healthy), try safflower oil. It's hard to find sometimes (although I recently picked up some at Costco for about $7/gallon). There apparently are two types, one high in monounsaturated fat ("high oleic"), which is the only kind I've found in markets, and one high in polyunsaturated fat, which is no good for frying, and some say too much poly is not good. The label probably won't say high oleic, but look at the nutrition info and compare the saturated, mono-, and poly-unsaturated numbers. If the mono number is way bigger, that's the one (the stuff I just bought says 11 g mono, 2 g poly, and 1 g saturated).

                                                                                                        3. Interesting thread.

                                                                                                          Here in the UK, cold-pressed rapeseed oil (as we call canola) is regarded as premium product, prized by chefs and home cooks as a homegrown alternative to olive oil.

                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Harters

                                                                                                            Don't know if it makes a difference, but very little of the canola oil in the US is cold-pressed. It's typically extracted with heat and hexane.

                                                                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                                                                              The cooks on The New Scandinavian Cooking series (CreateTV) often specify rapeseed oil.

                                                                                                              My Trader Joes bottle of canola is labeled 'Expeller pressed, no solvents used'.

                                                                                                              1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                about 5 years ago it was the same here in the US. i just think it sometimes tastes like the bottom of a bilge cleaners rubber boot.

                                                                                                                1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                  I try to buy cold-pressed / mechanically pressed canola oil whenever possible (same for other oils, for that matter). The big downside is that it can get quite expensive, but I think it's worth it for peace of mind, and aside from the worry about hexane, I believe that mechanically extracted canola / rapeseed oil has some health benefits over the chemically extracted kind as well. I had abandoned canola for a while (in favor of safflower oil and similar oils), but after reading "The Queen of Fats", I'm sold again on Canola.

                                                                                                                2. I find it interesting that so many people have an aversion to the taste of canola oil. I don't detect that taste in canola oil but I do find the taste of soybean oil offensive. I recently switched to canola oil for deep frying and usage as a relatively unflavored oil. I generally use olive oils for their different uses according to type. Peanut oil is next in line to get a workout.

                                                                                                                  1. It tastes neutral to me, even when heated. I wonder if the perception of it as "fishy" has a genetics/chemistry/biology component, like that for cilantro. I also strongly suspect there's a bit of peer pressure there.

                                                                                                                    I buy canola/rapeseed or soy for my all-purpose oil, but I also use a good deal of coconut (which is a solid at room temperature). As to whether it's better for you than animal fat, just wait a couple of years, and the "science" will tell you something different from what it says today. I happen to believe in keeping one's diet relatively low in fat (and refined carbohydrates), regardless of the source.

                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                      peer pressure? really? do you always suspect people who have different experiences than you are somehow not being fully honest about what they perceive? I assure you, my tasting canola oil as sometimes fishy is not something anyone told me about, it is something i have experienced on my own. more than once.

                                                                                                                      1. re: thew

                                                                                                                        I agree -- I taste even fresh, unheated canola oil as "rancid" and did long before I heard anyone else disliked the taste. I also agree, however, that dmd's point about what's healthy and what's not is a good one. I personally don't think it makes nearly as much difference what kinds of fats you're eating as how much fat you're eating, and to a lesser extent, the quality of the fats.

                                                                                                                        1. re: thew

                                                                                                                          I said, I "suspect," and proposed it as mildly as possible. I don't doubt some people sense a fishy flavor. There's almost always a reason for every stereotype. But I also believe strongly that many of us are susceptible to others' opinions about every single aspect of the subjective world.

                                                                                                                          Mark Bittman finds canola fishy, and he's extremely influential. A great number of similarly-credentialed food professionals like it and suggest it as their most neutral oil. Your mileage may vary. If you don't like it, great. Please use something you like. No skin off my stiff upper lip, as Opus once malapropped.

                                                                                                                          I cast no aspersions -- but I also know several people who proclaim loudly their "allergy" to MSG while they much away on a bag of Cheetos or a wide variety of other Western (or "non-threatening") foodstuffs absolutely packed with the stuff.

                                                                                                                          I know people who claim to be intoxicated with summer truffles that deliver all the flavor of a water chestnut to me. I think asparagus is sweet, complex and irresistible, while the love of my life finds it disgustingly, inedibly bitter. There's no way to quantify these things.

                                                                                                                          Let me be 100 percent clear: I am not criticizing anyone for thinking canola tastes fishy. I don't taste that, but I think certain people may perhaps ascertain that because of "experts'" testimony instead of their own noses, just as some may proclaim cilantro "soapy" before they really explore its unique flavor profile.

                                                                                                                          Once more, thew, I never once said I don't think you taste it as fishy, There's a reason that perception is out there.

                                                                                                                        2. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                                                          There may be a genetic component, but as far as peer pressure - I don't think so. I had burgers on the grill and was cooking french fries in canola oil when my younger daughter walked into the house and said "Yum! Fish and chips for dinner!"

                                                                                                                          Given that she probably doesn't know there's a controversy about the stuff, and given that she certainly didn't know I was using it at the time, it's fair bet that at least some people - her included - can pick up a fishy smell from canola oil.

                                                                                                                        3. Here's a short technical article about the development of off-tastes in oils, from a British supplier of cooking oils.


                                                                                                                          "Of the common vegetable oils, only soyabean and rapeseed oil contain significant amounts
                                                                                                                          (~10%) of linolenic acid. Thus it is only these oils which produce the fishy and painty off-
                                                                                                                          flavours characteristic of 2,4,7-decatrienal. The differences between the off-flavours which
                                                                                                                          develop in the three liquid oils soyabean, canola(rapeseed) and sunflower oil are
                                                                                                                          summarised in Table 3. There is a clear difference between the flavours which develop in
                                                                                                                          sunflower oil and the other two oils....
                                                                                                                          "Thus oils containing high levels of polyunsaturated acids, linoleic and linolenic, will develop
                                                                                                                          off-flavours more quickly than oils containing mostly monounsaturated acids such as olive
                                                                                                                          oil - subject of course to the same oxidising conditions, i.e. levels of pro-oxidants, anti-
                                                                                                                          oxidants and oxygen.

                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                            Interesting. I'm guessing that by "painty" he means the flavor I detect in unheated canola oil, which I think of as being "rancid" but which could be described as the sharp/bitter scent associated with paint. Hmmm ... it never occurred to me until just this moment that "bitter" is a component of that flavor, which is probably someone who is very sensitive to bitter flavors like me is aware of it.

                                                                                                                          2. It took me years to discover it was canola oil that was causing my sinus attacks. As soon as I quit eating it the sinus attacks ended. I accidentally ate some in some rice chips yesterday and sure enough, sinus attack today. Along with wheat, dairy and peanuts a warning should be at the end of the ingredients: contains canola oil.