6

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omega 6:3 ratio and canola oil

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created May 10, 2012 at 11:50 AM

My wife (not paleo, but generally agrees with whole foods approach) recently read an article in Eating Well magazine which said that Americans need to better balance 3:6 ratio by trading in sunflower and corn oil for canola oil (higher in 3), along with eating more fish, nuts and olive oil.

She knows my hate for canola is beyond words so she asked me for my opinion. I first looked up canola in the USDA database:

http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/667?fg=&man=&lfacet=&count=&max=&sort=&qlookup=&offset=&format=Full&new=

It is only about 30% polyunsaturated and the 6:3 ratio is ~2:1, which I believe is within the typical ratio that people target (I believe anywhere from 2:1 to 1:1). Interesting. Some arguments come to mind:

(1) The omega 3 in canola oil is plant-based (ALA) rather than (DHA/EPA). HOWEVER, so is the omega 3 in grass fed beef which none of us would have a problem with:

http://paleohacks.com/questions/107432/is-n-3-fat-in-pastured-beef-ala-or-dha-epa

(2) Even if the ratio is reasonable, it is much better to use fats that are primarily saturated, because polyunsaturated fat is prone to oxidation and 30% is still high

(3) Doesn't necessarily apply to me, but most people on SAD are likely getting way to much n6, so ideally they should try to eat foods with a better than 2:1 ratio to offset the excess n6 rather than compounding the problem

I guess #2 should be enough of a good reason, but are there others? Many on here use the word "rancid" when referring to seed oils. What do we mean by that? Are they more likely to be oxidized before we cook with them then say nuts for example? Is that also by chance an argument that mainstream could pick up on? Why or why not?


UPDATE: Thanks everyone. Lots of great answers below, and the WAP article linked below is especially informative. Christopher makes a good point that this question could be asked about two different types of canola oil (1) industrially made and (2) non-GMO more naturally made canola oil. Though, I think #1 is much more pervasive so perhaps more relevant. The WAP article does seem to address #2 quite well also. Non-GMO rapeseed oil contains high levels of erucic acid which may be quite dangerous. Also, getting a bulk of your fat from monounsaturated fat is likely evolutionarily novel and some research shows it to be potentially dangerous.

499f188c87c6980742b9ba98caa6f563

(683)

on May 11, 2012
at 02:25 PM

I use "Cocoraj" coconut oil imported from India. Their website merely talks about the "purity" of their oil; nothing about the actual techniques used. It DOES smell like coconut though, which I like.

499f188c87c6980742b9ba98caa6f563

(683)

on May 11, 2012
at 02:21 PM

I use "Cocoraj" coconut oil imported from India. Their website merely talks about the "purity" of their oil; nothing about the actual techniques used. It does smell like coconut though, which I like.

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on May 10, 2012
at 08:22 PM

I definitely would agree. The above WAP article does question large quantities of olive oil though. Eating way more monounsaturated fat than any traditional diet could be problematic apparently.

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on May 10, 2012
at 08:18 PM

Thank you. Good to get confirmation.

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on May 10, 2012
at 08:18 PM

Thank you. Really good article. If anyone else is interested in this topic, I recommend it.

D5d982a898721d3392c85f951d0bf0aa

(2417)

on May 10, 2012
at 03:14 PM

Christopher, when? I'm a food dork and I'm stumped. Are you thinking marinades and salad dressing? I guess I've phased out my neutral liquid oil days - I just don't mind swapping in a bit of avocado or bland olive oil. And now that I've found expeller pressed coconut, I feel like I've got a neutral oil back.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on May 10, 2012
at 02:16 PM

Yeah, that's why I tried to indicate a difference between selective breeding/hybridizing and genetic modification. Practices that farmers have been doing for thousands of years are very different from adding Roundup pesticide to corn! (But I still avoid canola oil for other reasons. It's still just way too processed to be that great for us...deodorizing, degumming, bleaching, etc.)

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on May 10, 2012
at 02:14 PM

Yeah, that's why I specified the "engineering" being different from what they've done to plants and animals in the 21st Century. Selective breeding and hybridizing is *very* different from adding Roundup pesticide to corn! GMO

A7768b6c6be7f5d6acc76e5efa66464c

on May 10, 2012
at 02:13 PM

I believe I heard that, it has something to do with our efficiency at converting omega-3 from one form to another, or something. Sounds plausible to me--I've read similar about flax seed oil. But I'd just add that the nutrients listed on any label probably almost never reflect what we can actually absorb. Absorption always depends on many factors (state of depletion, presence or absence of other nutrients or substances required for absorption, etc.).

A7768b6c6be7f5d6acc76e5efa66464c

on May 10, 2012
at 01:56 PM

@Amy, years before genetic engineering was known, canola was originally modified by hybridizing, a totally natural process of selection that we can thank for pretty much every plant we eat today. Nowadays genetic engineering is widely used, but GE/GMO canola is available. So I'm less worried about that than the health effects. That WAPF article is excellent, by the way.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on May 10, 2012
at 01:51 PM

I can buy organic cold-pressed colza (i.e. rapeseed) here in Switzerland. Is that evil?

A7768b6c6be7f5d6acc76e5efa66464c

on May 10, 2012
at 01:50 PM

@Amy, years before genetic engineering was known, canola was originally modified by hybridizing, a totally natural process of selection that we can thank for pretty much every plant we eat today. Nowadays genetic engineering is widely used, but GE/GMO canola is available. So I'm less worried about that than the health effects. That WPA article is excellent, by the way.

A7768b6c6be7f5d6acc76e5efa66464c

on May 10, 2012
at 01:30 PM

One can easily find non-GMO canola oil.

A7768b6c6be7f5d6acc76e5efa66464c

on May 10, 2012
at 01:29 PM

Okay, that sounds pretty bad. How about brands that are NOT treated with hexane or other nasties?

A7768b6c6be7f5d6acc76e5efa66464c

on May 10, 2012
at 01:26 PM

I think answers to your excellent question would be improved if you stipulated an assumption that the canola oil in question be a) non-GMO, and b) 100% expeller-pressed and not treated with hexane. Why? To me, those two aren't good enough reasons to dismiss canola, since we can easily obtain non-GMO, non-hexane canola. If someone answers "omg, hexane!" or "GMO!" you really don't get answers to the heart of your question. I too am trying to understand why I should hate canola oil, because culinarily speaking, I don't care what anyone says, sometimes only a liquid neutral-tasting oil will do.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on May 10, 2012
at 01:00 PM

You're right - canola is made from rapeseed, and originally went by the name "LEAR" oil (Low Erucic Acid Rapeseed). Erucic acid is a kind of fatty acid that has some pretty toxic health effects, as I understand it. So they engineered rapeseeds to be extremely low in it in order to make it less toxic. (they didn't genetically modify it by adding fish genes to it or something like that...but yes, still a kind of modification.) http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/the-great-con-ola

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9 Answers

best answer

2
8508fec4bae4a580d1e1b807058fee8e

on May 10, 2012
at 03:21 PM

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on May 10, 2012
at 08:18 PM

Thank you. Really good article. If anyone else is interested in this topic, I recommend it.

8
11838116de44ae449df0563f09bd3d73

(655)

on May 10, 2012
at 12:04 PM

"Canola oil is made at a processing facility by slightly heating and then crushing the seed. Almost all commercial grade canola oil is then refined using hexane. Finally, the crude oil is refined using water precipitation and organic acid, "bleaching" with clay, and deodorizing using steam distillation."

yummy

Animal fats, coconut oil, olive oil, pastured butter seem to me to be enough fat choices for any food prep.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on May 10, 2012
at 01:51 PM

I can buy organic cold-pressed colza (i.e. rapeseed) here in Switzerland. Is that evil?

A7768b6c6be7f5d6acc76e5efa66464c

on May 10, 2012
at 01:29 PM

Okay, that sounds pretty bad. How about brands that are NOT treated with hexane or other nasties?

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on May 10, 2012
at 08:22 PM

I definitely would agree. The above WAP article does question large quantities of olive oil though. Eating way more monounsaturated fat than any traditional diet could be problematic apparently.

2
B4b56fcc5ebad76ed8e1709dedf01f86

on May 10, 2012
at 06:30 PM

I recently asked Paul Jaminet this question, and his take was essentially identical to what you suggested, but with additional emphasis on #3. The ratio in canola is not the issue, it's that the PUFAs are just too high to begin with. From Paul...

"We want PUFAs to be less than 5% of energy so less than 7.5% of fats (on a 65% fat diet). Since our recommended meats are 3% to 15% PUFA, you can???t afford to eat a 30% PUFA oil."

That's the PHD take, anyway :)

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on May 10, 2012
at 08:18 PM

Thank you. Good to get confirmation.

1
984300c79a403775c08be2d21c24affc

(30)

on May 10, 2012
at 01:12 PM

All I know is that when I inadvertently eat Canola Oil I hurt in all of my muscles about 6-12 hours later, for about a day. Not clinical research I know.

Diane and Liz on the 'Balanced Bites' podcast talked about canola and how the 6:3 numbers in the bottle didn't reflect the numbers we absorb. maybe in the Paleo 101 part 2 podcast in January? I think.

http://balancedbites.com/2012/01/balanced-bites-podcast-episode-1-paleo-101-part-2.html

A7768b6c6be7f5d6acc76e5efa66464c

on May 10, 2012
at 02:13 PM

I believe I heard that, it has something to do with our efficiency at converting omega-3 from one form to another, or something. Sounds plausible to me--I've read similar about flax seed oil. But I'd just add that the nutrients listed on any label probably almost never reflect what we can actually absorb. Absorption always depends on many factors (state of depletion, presence or absence of other nutrients or substances required for absorption, etc.).

1
Bc5e3d677762126c2b5b43287cdcd624

on May 10, 2012
at 12:44 PM

Canola is made from the rapeseed plant which apparently is largely genetically modified...maybe someone can expand on this as I just began researching it myself :-)

A7768b6c6be7f5d6acc76e5efa66464c

on May 10, 2012
at 01:56 PM

@Amy, years before genetic engineering was known, canola was originally modified by hybridizing, a totally natural process of selection that we can thank for pretty much every plant we eat today. Nowadays genetic engineering is widely used, but GE/GMO canola is available. So I'm less worried about that than the health effects. That WAPF article is excellent, by the way.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on May 10, 2012
at 02:14 PM

Yeah, that's why I specified the "engineering" being different from what they've done to plants and animals in the 21st Century. Selective breeding and hybridizing is *very* different from adding Roundup pesticide to corn! GMO

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on May 10, 2012
at 01:00 PM

You're right - canola is made from rapeseed, and originally went by the name "LEAR" oil (Low Erucic Acid Rapeseed). Erucic acid is a kind of fatty acid that has some pretty toxic health effects, as I understand it. So they engineered rapeseeds to be extremely low in it in order to make it less toxic. (they didn't genetically modify it by adding fish genes to it or something like that...but yes, still a kind of modification.) http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/the-great-con-ola

A7768b6c6be7f5d6acc76e5efa66464c

on May 10, 2012
at 01:30 PM

One can easily find non-GMO canola oil.

A7768b6c6be7f5d6acc76e5efa66464c

on May 10, 2012
at 01:50 PM

@Amy, years before genetic engineering was known, canola was originally modified by hybridizing, a totally natural process of selection that we can thank for pretty much every plant we eat today. Nowadays genetic engineering is widely used, but GE/GMO canola is available. So I'm less worried about that than the health effects. That WPA article is excellent, by the way.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on May 10, 2012
at 02:16 PM

Yeah, that's why I tried to indicate a difference between selective breeding/hybridizing and genetic modification. Practices that farmers have been doing for thousands of years are very different from adding Roundup pesticide to corn! (But I still avoid canola oil for other reasons. It's still just way too processed to be that great for us...deodorizing, degumming, bleaching, etc.)

0
85632ad49c18135380e195532214585e

on March 06, 2013
at 07:01 PM

Temperature matters. If you cook your Salmon to 300 degrees F, then yes, but at that point, it has no moisture left in it and is hardly something you would consume, anyways. If you cook it to 140F or less, then it shouldn't be a problem.

0
1b29e4bb06f28a8d0a484e650c54632e

on June 24, 2012
at 01:00 AM

I read the article...one question: does this mean that when we cook a piece of salmon that the Omega 3 turns into trans fats (from the heat)?

0
34cf7065a6c94062c711eb16c0f6adc3

on May 11, 2012
at 06:44 AM

There are chemicals in the refining process that can hurt. One of my friends was running low grade fever for 4 years. After switching to a low toxin diet, he found that the problem was refined oils. Doesn't matter which.

Its a good idea to stay away from refined oils even if they are something as healthy as coconut oil. In India we get filtered coconut oil, which has not undergone the deodorizing and purifying using solvents.

499f188c87c6980742b9ba98caa6f563

(683)

on May 11, 2012
at 02:21 PM

I use "Cocoraj" coconut oil imported from India. Their website merely talks about the "purity" of their oil; nothing about the actual techniques used. It does smell like coconut though, which I like.

499f188c87c6980742b9ba98caa6f563

(683)

on May 11, 2012
at 02:25 PM

I use "Cocoraj" coconut oil imported from India. Their website merely talks about the "purity" of their oil; nothing about the actual techniques used. It DOES smell like coconut though, which I like.

0
B8592e62f9804ddabae73c1103d6bcb9

(1956)

on May 10, 2012
at 10:19 PM

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