The Great Con-ola – Weston A Price Foundation

6 May

THE MYTH OF MONOUNSATURATES

Consumer acceptance of canola oil represents one in a series of victories for the food processing industry, which has as its goal the replacement of all traditional foods with imitation foods made out of products derived from corn, wheat, soybeans and oil seeds. Canola oil came to the rescue when the promotion of polyunsaturated corn and soybean oils had become more and more untenable. Scientists could endorse canola oil in good conscience because it was a “heart-healthy” oil, low in saturated fat, high in monounsaturates and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.

But most of the omega-3s in canola oil are transformed into trans fats during the deodorization process; and research continues to prove that the saturates are necessary and highly protective.

via The Great Con-ola – Weston A Price Foundation.

 

At least it can be said that canola oil is a good source of monounsaturated fat–like olive oil–and therefore not harmful. . . Or is it? Obviously monounsaturated fatty acids are not harmful in moderate amounts in the context of a traditional diet, but what about in the context of the modern diet, where the health-conscious community is relying on monounsaturated fats almost exclusively? There are indications that monounsaturated fats in excess and as the major type of fat can be a problem. Overabundance of oleic acid (the type of monounsaturated fatty acid in olive and canola oil) creates imbalances on the cellular level that can inhibit prostaglandin production.27 In one study, higher monounsaturated fat consumption was associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.28

Even the dogma that monounsaturated fatty acids are good for the heart is at risk. According to a 1998 report, mice fed a diet containing monounsaturated fats were more likely to develop atherosclerosis than mice fed a diet containing saturated fat.29 In fact, the mice fed monounsaturated fats were even more prone to heart disease than those fed polyunsaturated fatty acids.

This means that the type of diet recommended in books like The Omega Diet–low in protective saturates, bolstered with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and relying on monounsaturated fatty acids, whether from olive or canola oil, for the majority of fat calories–may actually contribute to heart disease. Such diets have been presented with great marketing finesse, but we need to recognize them for what they are–payola for the food companies and con-ola for the public.


Sidebars

FATTY ACIDS

SATURATED FATTY ACIDS are chains of carbon atoms that have hydrogen filling every bond. In foods, they normally range in length from 4 to 22 carbons. Because of their straight configuration, saturated fatty acids pack together easily and tend to be solid at room temperature. Butter, tallows, suet, palm oil and coconut oil are classified as saturated fats because they contain a preponderance of saturated fatty acids. Saturated fats are stable and do not become rancid when subjected to heat, as in cooking.

MONOUNSATURATED FATTY ACIDS are chains of carbon atoms that have one double bond between two carbons and therefore lack two hydrogens. Normally they range from 16 to 22 carbons. They have a kink or bend at the position of the double bond so the molecules do not pack together as easily as saturated fatty acids. Monounsaturated oils tend to be liquid at room temperature but become solid when refrigerated. Olive oil, peanut oil, lard, rapeseed and canola oils are classified as monounsaturated oils. The most common monounsaturated fatty acids are palmitoleic (16 carbons), oleic (18 carbons) and erucic (22 carbons). Monounsaturated oils are relatively stable and can be used for cooking.

POLYUNSATURATED FATTY ACIDS have two or more double bonds. As there is a bend or kink at each double bond, these fatty acids do not pack together easily and tend to be liquid, even when cold. Polyunsaturated oils are very fragile. They tend to develop harmful free radicals when subjected to heat and oxygen, as in cooking or processing. Soybean oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil and flax oil are polyunsaturated oils. Omega-6 fatty acids have the first double bond at the 6th carbon from the end of the fatty acid chain. The most common omega-6 fatty acid is linoleic acid, which is called an essential fatty acid (EFA) because your body cannot make it. Omega-3 fatty acids have the first double bond at the 3rd carbon. The most common omega-3 fatty acid is the EFA alpha-linolenic acid. The consensus among lipid experts is that the American diet is too high in omega-6 fatty acids (present in high amounts in commercial vegetable oils) and lacking in omega-3 fatty acids (which are present in organ meats, wild fish, pastured egg yolks, organic vegetables and flax oil). Surfeit of omega-6 fatty acids and deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to depress immune system function, contribute to weight gain and cause inflammation.

SOYBEAN OIL VERSUS RAPESEED OIL IN INDIA

While canola oil is displacing soybean oil in many American processed foods, soybean oil is displacing traditional rapeseed oil in India. In her book Stolen Harvest, Indian author Vandana Shiva describes how American industrially processed soy oil replaced traditional seed oils in a large part of India. Each region in India has its specific edible oil used for cooking. In the North and East it is rapeseed oil, in the West it is peanut oil, in the Deccan it is sesame and in Kerala it is coconut. In India, rapeseed or mustard oil was traditionally sold in small quantities, extracted as needed with a small oil press or ghanis. Oil processing provided employment for thousands of artisans and ensured that the housewife had a fresh product. The oil cake was then fed to cattle (with no apparent negative effects). Mustard oil also served as mosquito repellent and as a nonpolluting oil in lamps.

Within a few months after the advent of “free trade” for soybean oil into India, thousands of Indians fell ill with “dropsy” due to a mysterious adulteration of rapeseed oil. The government banned the sale of all unpackaged edible oils, thus ensuring an end to all household and community-level oil processing. Edible oil production became fully industrialized and local processing became a criminal act. Thousands of workers were dispossessed of their livelihood and millions of Indians were dispossessed of a healthy oil. Cheap, highly processed soy oil immediately replaced rapeseed oil in the markets. During the crisis, the US Soybean Association pushed for soybean imports as the “solution.” “US farmers need big new export markets. . . ” reported one business publication. “India is a perfect match.” Growth was achieved by theft of an important part of the small-scale local economy.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: