Some have expressed concern about the use of canola oil in MELT® Organic spreads. Legitimate issues exist for conventional (i.e., non-organic, GMO) canola, just as they do for any conventional dietary oil. The main concerns include the following:
1. Canola oil is produced using solvents (hexane), which leaves behind residues of toxic chemicals (hexane) in the oil.
Response: Our organic, non-GMO canola oil is produced through a mechanical expeller-pressed method so solvents and hexane are not used and are not present. PLEASE NOTE: manufacturers of any organically certified dietary oil are by law banned from using solvents for extraction, therefore you can have full confidence that NONE of the plant- and fruit-based oils in MELT Organic spreads contain residues of hexane or any solvent.
2. Canola oil is made from GMO seed – even organic canola oil in North America is at risk of containing GMOs due to cross contamination.
Response: We agree organic canola oil sourced in North America is at risk of contamination with GMO seed unless verified with genetic testing, which is why we source organic canola oil from the Netherlands. Each batch of our organic canola oil is genetically tested to ensure no GMO contamination is present. The Non-GMO Project provides excellent vetting of organic canola sources and requires genetic testing in order to achieve certification.
3. Canola oil is often rancid on arrival.
Response: Conventional canola oil may be rancid on shelf at your local grocery store because like any oil high in polyunsaturated fat such soy, safflower, and corn oils, canola oil is sensitive to heat and does not have a long shelf life. However, MELT Organic sources organic canola oil that is tested for freshness for EVERY batch.
4. Canola oil is high in Omega 6s and Americans already consume too much Omega 6s in their diets.
Response: We agree Omega 6s are generally consumed in quantities far too high to be of nutritional benefit, which is why we are vigilant about keeping the Omega 6:Omega 3 ratio as low as possible in addition to keeping the overall polyunsaturated fat content less than 12% in all of our products. Our organic canola oil is about 60% monounsaturated fat, 23% Omega 6s, and 10% Omega 3s with minor amounts of other fatty acids depending on the batch. As a non-dominant ingredient, the organic canola oil is used to its maximum benefit by boosting the Omega 3s per serving to 425 mg, while maintaining an Omega 6:Omega 3 ratio of 2:1 – an exceptionally low, healthful ratio, especially for a butter improvement. In addition, MELT® Organic spreads are 87% monounsaturated and healthy saturated fat, which is an ideal fatty acid ratio to consume.
Oils high in Omega 6s and Omega 3s like canola, soy, safflower, and flax should be avoided for cooking purposes as well as foods fried using these oils (e.g., potato chips, corn chips, fries) because polyunsaturated fats are prone to oxidation, polymerization, and cross-bonding. Oxidized oils are carcinogenic and should be avoided.
5. Canola oil is an invention of the food industry.
Response: Canola oil is the generic brand name for rapeseed oil. The “canola” name is indeed a recent invention of the food industry for marketing purposes since the word “rapeseed” is not as catchy or appealing to the general public. However, rapeseed oil has been around for thousands of years in China, India, and Japan as a food source that was always eaten with saturated fat for proper absorption. The primary difference between today’s canola oil and more ancient rapeseed oil is the monounsaturated fat in canola oil is primarily oleic acid (which is also found in olive and hi-oleic sunflower oils) instead of erucic acid. Today’s canola oil also tends to be refined as opposed to unrefined in its ancient use.
6. Canola oil is a poisonous substance, an industrial oil that does not belong in the body. It contains ‘the infamous chemical warfare agent mustard gas,’ hemagglutinins and toxic cyanide-containing glycocides; it causes mad cow disease, blindness, nervous disorders, clumping of blood cells and depression of the immune system.
Response: Reports on the dangers of rapeseed oil are rampant on the internet, mostly stemming from an article, “Blindness, Mad Cow Disease and Canola Oil,” by John Thomas, which appeared in Perceptions magazine (March/April 1996) – a non-scientific magazine. Some of the claims are ludicrous. Although rape is a member of the brassica or mustard family, it is not the source of mustard gas used in chemical warfare. Glycosides or glycosinolates (compounds that produce sugars on hydrolysis) are found in most members of the brassica family, including broccoli, kale, cabbage and mustard greens. They contain sulfur (not arsenic), which is what gives mustard and cruciferous vegetables their pungent flavor. These compounds are goitrogenic and are ideally neutralized by cooking or fermentation. As rapeseed meal was high in glycosides, it could not be used in large amounts for animal feeding. However, plant breeders have been able to breed out the glycosides as well as the erucic acid from canola oil. The result is a low-glycoside meal that can be used as an animal feed. In fact, canola meal for animal feed is an important Canadian export.
Hemagglutinins, substances that promote blood clotting and depress growth, are found in the protein portion of the seed, which are not present in the oil because all proteins are removed. Canola oil was not the cause of the mad cow epidemic in Britain, although, it is possible feeding cows a diet high in polyunsaturated fats may have made them more susceptible to certain diseases.
Like all fats and oils, rapeseed oil has industrial uses. It can be used as an insecticide, a lubricant, a fuel and in soap, synthetic rubber and ink. Like flax oil and walnut oil, it can be used to make varnish. Traditional fats like coconut oil, olive oil and tallow also have industrial uses, but that does not make them dangerous for human consumption.
We have had reports of allergies to canola, and internet articles describe a variety of symptoms — tremors, shaking, palsy, lack of coordination, slurred speech, memory problems, blurred vision, problems with urination, numbness and tingling in the extremities, and heart arrhythmias — that cleared up on discontinuance of canola. None of this has been reported in the medical journals, however.1
Health concerns with consuming (organic, non-GMO) canola oil are identical to those with over consuming any (organic, non-GMO) oil high in polyunsaturated fat: it’s about getting the right balance of fatty acids in your diet, most importantly healthy saturated fats like those found in virgin coconut oil. It is why the polyunsaturated fat content of all MELT Organic spreads is less than 12% of the total fatty acid profile with an Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio of 2:1.
- Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, PhD, “The Great Con-ola (Part 1)”, Nexus Magazine, Aug/Sept 2002