"So many different compounds can be made during
partial hydrogenation that they stagger the
Scientists have barely scratched the surface of
studying change induced in fat and oil by partial hydrogenation."
long-chain fatty acids found in canola have been found to destroy the
sphingomyelin surrounding nerve cells in the brain, in some cases leading to a
degenerative brain condition remarkably similar to mad cow disease (bovine
spongiform encephalopathy); in advanced cases the brain tissue develops a
Swiss-cheese-like appearance, full
and conditions that have been associated with canola oil consumption include
loss of vision (retinal capillaries are very sensitive and easily damaged), and
a wide range of neurological disorders.
The high temperatures used
in canola refining will damage many of the essential fatty acids, which are
much more susceptible to damage by heat than saturated fats.
converts many of unsaturated double bonds to a "trans" configuration.
While high-quality essential fatty acids are required for human health,
in their damaged or rancid forms they become harmful.
problems with canola oil include the presence of minute, but potentially
dangerous, amounts of thioglycosides, which have thyrotoxic effects.
reduce the concentration of these compounds requires processing with
alkalinizing agents plus high temperatures; unfortunately, the high
temperatures used in processing have other undesirable effects, the most
serious of which is the conversion of unsaturated fats to a trans fat form.
Rapeseed has been selectively bred and genetically engineered in an
attempt to reduce the toxic components and processing methods were developed to
further reduce the concentration of undesirable compounds.
Prior to its
entry into the "health" food market, it was known as rapeseed oil, but savvy
marketing professionals knew that the health food market, heavily dominated by
young, college-educated women, would not purchase a repulsive-sounding product
called rapeseed oil.
The name of the selectively bred variety was
changed to canola (as in "Canadian oil"; it has been heavily promoted by
Canadian government and agricultural organizations); the name rolls off the
tongue with a mellifluous sound.
Rapeseed oil, the third-largest source
of vegetable oil in the world, comes from rapeseed (Brassica napus) a
bright-yellow flowering member of the family Brassicaceae.
contains 50% erucic acid.
Erucic acid is broken down into shorter-chain
fatty acids in the human liver by the long-chain acyl CoA dehydrogenase
Erucic acid has a toxic effect on the heart at high enough
Publication of animal studies with erucic acid through the 1970s
led to governments worldwide moving away from oils with high levels of erucic
levels for human exposure to erucic acid have been established based on the
In 2003, Food Standards Australia set a provisional
tolerable daily intake (PTDI) for an average adult of about 500 mg/day of
erucic acid, extrapolated based on "the level that is associated with increased
myocardial lipidosis in nursing pigs.
There is a 120-fold safety margin
between this level and the level that is associated with increased myocardial
lipidosis in nursing pigs.
An individual consuming foods fried in canola
has the potential to approach the PTDI, in particularly if the level of erucic
acid in the processed canola oil exceeds 2% of the total fatty
fats are forged when vegetable oils undergo a chemical process known as
The classical example of a hydrogenation is the addition
of hydrogen on unsaturated bonds between carbon atoms, converting alkenes to
are found in the pharmaceutical and petrochemical industries.
reactions between organic compounds and hydrogen require metal catalysts. With
rare exception, no reaction below 480 °C occurs between hydrogen and
organic compounds in the absence of metal catalysts.
"Trans fats, a
manufactured byproduct of the partial hydrogenation of any vegetable oil,
sabotage cell membranes, inhibiting cells from performing their intended
functions. Cells all over the body cannot perform the exquisite and delicate
work they were designed to do once partially hydrogenated oil is absorbed." -
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