Two Toxic Fats in Almost Every Processed Food, Deli and Restaurant You Want To Avoid At All Costs: Soybean Oil and Canola Oil
By Nora Gedgaudas, CNS, NTP, BCHN
I consider both of these forms of oil to be trash oils that no one in their right mind should be consuming under any circumstances. Ever.
Why, you ask?
The reasons are multifold:
- All commercial canola and soybean oils, are partially hydrogenated/interesterified as part of their deodorization process.
- The extraction of oil from soybeans is commonly achieved using toxic hexane solvents, typically also at high heat. 
- Both these oils are lacking in any meaningful, quality essential fatty acid content, particularly since their plant-based omega-3’s (poorly utilized by humans anyway) are typically hydrogenated out of the product, or become quickly rancid following extraction.
- Even if it is “organic and expeller pressed” the canola seed is naturally abnormally low in vitamin E as compared to other seeds for some unknown reason. Vitamin E is needed and usually naturally present to help stabilize and preserve the delicate polyunsaturated oils contained within seeds. This unusually low E level in canola seeds both makes canola oil more prone to rancidity but also can both deplete and increase one’s internal need for vitamin E and lead to deficiencies of this important vitamin and enhanced free-radical damage and inflammation.
- Canola oil on its own is toxic enough that it can even be used as an effective pesticide, with all the accompanying cautionary warning labels (except on the stuff they expect you to consume). Soybean oil, too has shown effectiveness as an insecticide and repellant.
The labels on these products go on to explain “CAUTION: Avoid contact with skin or clothing. If you get it on yourself, you are directed to take off all your contaminated clothing, take a 15-20 minute shower to rinse the canola or soybean oil off your skin, and then “Call a poison control center or doctor for treatment advice.”
But hey—it’s great in egg salad!
And let’s not forget the healthy benefits of soybean oil:
- Canola oil (for these and so many other reasons) should absolutely never be used for cooking. It simply lacks the stability and safe smoking point –particularly the non-hydrogenated form (you’re sort of screwed either way). The higher ALA (alpha linolenic acid) content (coupled with inherently depressed vitamin E levels) of organic, expeller pressed canola oil cause it to readily rancidify when exposed to air or (God forbid) heat.
- Canola and other highly refined soybean vegetable oils are highly inflammatory, due to their high omega-6 content (and proneness to rancidity). Inflammation, as you know, is at the root of most disease processes. –That canola also contains more oleic acid than, say, sunflower oil does not mean it is anywhere near as high in oleic acid as olive oil, nor does it negate the presence of highly significant rancidity-prone polyunsaturate content.
- The rape seed, from which canola was bred contained high levels of a fatty acid known as erucic acid which was originally believed to be the source of heart lesions found in rats fed rapeseed oil. In canola oil most of the erucic acid has been bred out, which scientists initially assumed would simply fix the problem. Unfortunately, subsequent studies done with canola feeding experiments showed the same damaging results in experimental animals. This may well be due to the depleting effects (some scientists believe) of canola on vitamin E and the damage sustained by exposure to rancid, mutagenic fats and a high level of inflammatory omega-6’s.
- Canola and soy are among the most prevalent genetically modified crops (GMO) there is (canola was actually the very first genetically modified seed oil).
- There are other, more traditionally used plant-based oils (like coconut oil, quality extra virgin olive oil, or avocado oil) that have a long and comparatively safe track record. As such there is literally no reason to ever consume canola oil. That said, it is SO dirt cheap to produce that it is more economical to food manufacturers and deli owners. This is why you see it everywhere. What it says to me loud and clear when I find it being used is that a food manufacturer or restaurant/deli owner is more concerned with their bottom line than with the health of anyone consuming their product. Its somewhat significant oleic acid content prompts industry to present canola as a “heart healthy alternative to olive oil” (even as it is extremely high in inflammatory omega-6’s and has shown evidence of increasing proneness to stroke).  It is no such thing. Ever.
A Sad Word of Caution About Olive Oil…
Despite the inherent superiority of extra virgin olive oil as a culinary oil, however, it is a sad truth and an important caveat that olive oil is among the most commonly adulterated foods. Even supposedly “extra virgin” olive oil is often diluted with other less expensive oils, including soybean and canola. The University of California, Davis, conducted its own investigation back in 2010 revealing that 69 percent of imported and 10 percent of California-based olive oils are fake, failing to pass International Olive Council and Department of Agriculture guidelines for extra-virgin olive oil. There are certainly class action suits underway for some of these crooked manufacturers, but unfortunately the marketplace is still overrun with these “fake” and frequently rancid olive oil products.
In order for an olive oil to truly be “extra virgin,” it must come from fresh, crushed olives, and not be cut with any other oils or additives. It also has to pass certain chemical tests, including sensory evaluations, taste profiles and smell. Of the five best selling imported extra virgin olive oils (Bertolli, Colavita, Filippo Berio, Star and Pompeian), 73 percent failed to meet the IOC sensory standards for extra virgin olive oils. The failure rate ranged from 94 percent to 54 percent, depending on the brand and panel. Eleven percent of the top-selling Italian brands failed both testing panels. Sensory defects indicate that the oil is either oxidized, of poor quality, or that the oil has been mixed with a cheaper, refined oil. Ugh. Yep—it’s one greasy business and consumers would do well to be extra cautious when choosing any cooking oil. By the way, Dr. Mary Enig personally cautioned me against one particular brand of cooking oils: Spectrum Naturals, due to what she said were frequent signs of adulteration across the board in her lab testing.
For quality extra virgin olive oil (the REAL stuff) I personally like Oliflix and Bariani brands. But never cook with any olive oil (except maybe on the lowest heat settings). Its smoking point is simply too low to avoid rapid peroxidization. It is far better and safer to use olive oil on your salads or poured over freshly steamed vegetables, instead. For cooking stick to quality animal fats (I love the Fatworks® brand) and/or coconut oil.
THE MORAL OF THIS STORY? It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature! Avoid highly processed fats and oils like the plague they are—particularly soybean and canola oil. Always avoid over heating your fats, never use them if rancid and stick to organic and high quality natural foods that would have been recognizable as food to our primitive ancestors!
Check out my latest program, Primal Restoration TM!
 Enig MG, “Trans Fatty Acids in the Food Supply: A Comprehensive Report Covering 60 Years of Research,” 2nd Edition, Enig Associates, Inc., Silver Spring, MD, 1995.
 Eldridge AC. “Organic solvent treatment of soybeans and soybean fractions.” In Soybeans: Chemistry and Technology, Volume I, Proteins. Allan K. Smith and Sidney J. Circle, eds. Avi. (1972) 150
 Sipos, Andre, Szuhaj, Bernard F. Chapter 11, Soybean Oil. In YH Hui, ed. Bailey’s Industrial Oil and Fat Products, (NY Wiley-Interscience, Fifth Edition, 1995) Volume 2, 527-528.
 Gerster H. “Can adults adequately convert alpha-linolenic acid (18:3n-3) to eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n-3)?” International Journal of Vitamin and Nutrition Research 1998;68(3):159-73.
 Sauer FD, et al. “Additional vitamin E required in milk replacer diets that contain canola oil.” Nutrition Research. 1997;17(2):259-269
 NSRL Bulletin, 2, 295. National Soybean Research Laboratory. University of Illinois, at Urbana-Champaign. www.nsrl.uluc.edu.
 Vles RO, et al. “Nutritional Evaluation of Low-Erucic-Acid Rapeseed Oils: Toxicological Aspects of Food Safety.” Archives of Toxicology, Supplement 1, 1978:23-32
 Ratnayake WMN, et al. “Influence of Sources of Dietary Oils on the Life Span of Stroke-Prone Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats.” Lipids, 2000;35(4):409-420.
 Wallsundera MN. “Vegetable Oils High in Phytosterols Make Erythrocytes Less Deformable and Shorten the Life Span of Stroke-Prone Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats.” Journal of the American Society for Nutritional Sciences. May, 2000;130(5):1166-78