What is canola oil and what are its health benefits? There is a lot of bad news out there about canola, most of which is either based on misinterpretation or on no solid research at all. An online article headline “STOP Using Canola Oil Right Now!” includes claims about the harmful effects of genetically modified (GMO) crops, the supposedly deadly effects of eating contaminated food, and the dangers of drinking contaminated water. All this comes to a head with the claim, “The science on canola’s benefits for heart health is still very unclear”.
The reality, however, is that there is substantial scientific evidence that supports a number of claims made about the heart health benefits of olive oil and canola. One such benefit is that of preventing coronary heart disease. Other benefits include protection against type 2 diabetes, pancreatic cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, macular degeneration and stroke.
The only area where both oils fall short of the mark is in their ability to prevent macular degeneration. The reason canola oil is not as beneficial to patients with pre-existing vision problems as highly qualified health care professionals believe. It is reported that clinical studies performed on mice showed that the inflammatory disease affects the very cells that are supposed to be protecting the human visual system from degeneration. The lack of clear-cut scientific evidence that supports the use of these oils in combating macular degeneration makes both of these oils unfit for the use by individuals with pre-existing vision impairments.
The other area in which both oils fall short of the mark is in their ability to protect the heart. Both canola oils and lard suffer this limitation. Modern-day diets, particularly those which are high in saturated fats, place great stress on the heart and create a poor environment for it to function. In order for these oils, to be at their best for use against heart disease they need to contain specific nutrients such as vitamins D and A as well as CLA or conjugated linoleic acid. These specific nutrients are essential for maintaining healthy heart function and performance.
The problem with both oils is that they are high in calories. This means that the average person cannot completely remove them from their daily diet. There will always be times when you require a source of calories such as in between meals or in-between snack meals. For this purpose, many nutritionists recommend a diet that is comprised mainly of vegetables and lean meats. A diet which is void of calories and saturated fat is the only way to maintain proper cardiovascular health.
The study conducted by the USDA, which is responsible for the nutritional assessment of foods, found that consuming both trans-fat laden canola oil and margarine was more responsible for heart disease than eating high temperatures and butter. Other research has indicated that consuming margarine high in saturates was responsible for the higher risk of stroke while increasing the chances of fatal coronary artery disease (CAD) by nearly thirty per cent. The study also indicated that consumption of trans-fatty acids was more responsible for heart disease than eating high temperatures.
It has also been determined that a diet low in calories is better for overall health. When all foods are analyzed based upon their caloric content, canola oils and butter prove to be unhealthy, while high temperatures show to be healthier. By replacing these unhealthy oils with lower-calorie versions, we can ensure that our bodies receive all of the nutrients necessary for optimal performance.
There are a number of different benefits to using both canola and olive oils. Eating them on a daily basis provides us with a healthier alternative to regular commercial food. Trans fats present in the typical American diet are linked to a number of different diseases including heart disease and diabetes. By replacing these unhealthy fats with the healthier alternatives, we can ensure that we are receiving the health benefits of the oils we are consuming.