Canola Oil Side Effects

Canola oil is one of America's most popular cooking oils. Processed from the rapeseed plant, canola oil was originally processed in Canada. In fact, the name "canola" is derived from the term "Canadian oil, low acid," taking the "Can" and the first letters of the three subsequent words. Canola offers numerous health benefits, but, as with most products, there are also some side effects associated with it.

Harm to Animals

Rapeseed, long used as an insect repellent, has been found to be toxic to certain animals. For instance, cows who are fed large amounts of canola oil are not able to metabolize it, which can lead to illness or even death. Canola oil depletes vitamin E levels in pigs and is lethal to insects, which is why it is used as an insect repellent. Canola oil can kill beneficial spiders, butterflies and pollinating insects.

Harm to Infants

The U.S Food and Drug Administration has banned the use of canola oil in baby formula due to possible negative side effects. Canola oil contains erucic acid, which, because of the lack of metabolic development in infants, can cause a buildup of triglycerides in their hearts. Because of this, growers in the U.S. and Canada have genetically reduced the amount of erucic acid in the plants.

Hexane

Canola oil is created by a complicated processing procedure. A combination of extreme heat and a chemical solvent is used to separate the plant from the oil stored within it. Often, the solvent used is hexane. Traces of hexane, a chemical made from crude oil, left in canola oil have been known to cause headaches and nausea in people who have consumed it. However, hexane affects people differently: While one person can experience nausea and headaches from the chemical, others may not experience any side effects.

Advisory

Currently, canola oil is an FDA-approved food (except in baby formula) and deemed an overall healthy oil. Used in a majority of processed foods and in household cooking, canola is one of North America's most common cooking oils. If you are concerned about the potential side effects of canola oil, discuss it with your health care provider and look for alternative cooking liquids.