Is Canola Oil Paleo?
Table of Contents
The Quick Answer
No. Canola oil is not considered paleo.
Why Isn’t Canola Oil Paleo?
Canola oil isn’t paleo because it does not have an ideal ratio of omega-3s to omegas-6s. This essentially means it isn’t as healthy as many other available oils. Therefore, other oils are encouraged on the paleo diet instead of canola oil.
Originally Loren Cordain (the founder of the paleo diet) did promote the consumption of canola oil, but since the release of his original paleo diet book in 2002, he has changed his mind. Cordain now promotes the consumption of fish, avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut oil, and olive oil. He no longer promotes canola oil and other forms of vegetable oils because they have a less than ideal omega-3 to omega-6 ratio.
Canola oil comes from the seeds of the rape plant, which is related to other cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and kale. While these vegetables are all certainly paleo and have loads of health benefits, the process required to get oil out of plants like these is definitely not something that cavemen would have been able to do.
While healthy forms of fats are definitely an essential part of the paleo diet, and some oils are very good for you, canola oil is not one of these oils. Canola oil does have a good ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids, which is important because omega-6s are much too common in most people’s diets, but many of these omega-3s are destroyed during the high-heat processing period.
The Main Problems With Canola Oil
The main problems with canola oil are its concentration of erucic acid, the facts that it’s often genetically modified, combined with chemical solvents, and heated to high temperatures during processing, and its unfavorable cooking properties (due to it composing largely of unsaturated fat and oxidizing quickly).
Studies have shown that consuming erucic acid increases your risk of developing many harmful conditions because of its toxicity. Recent studies examining canola oil’s erucic acid levels have shown that consuming a decent amount of it (roughly 10% of your daily calories) is associated with an increased risk of developing kidney and liver problems, an increase in blood sodium levels, unwanted changes to hormones that regulate blood pressure, problems with reproduction, behavioral changes, and a high risk of having an allergic reaction.
The oxidation of canola oil occurs when the oil is heated to the point that it becomes rancid. This process destroys many of the good properties of canola oil (fatty acids, antioxidants, etc.) and gives the food the ability to damage your cholesterol levels and your heart health. For this reason, cooking at high temperatures with canola oil is a bad idea.
Is There Any Confusion When It Comes To Canola Oil Being Paleo?
No, not really. Most people agree that canola oil is not paleo.
That said, there may be some confusion for the people who read the 2002 edition of The Paleo Diet in which Loren Cordain does not declare canola oil non-paleo. As mentioned earlier, Cordain has since changed his take on canola oil. Today he agrees with many other paleo experts that there are much better options than canola oil.
So Is Canola Oil Paleo?
No, canola oil is not paleo. To cut a long story short, there are better paleo options for consuming healthy fats. We recommend that you get your fats from other whole food sources like good quality seafood, avocados, nuts, coconuts, and balanced oils (mainly flaxseed, walnut, olive, macadamia, coconut, and avocado).
When cooking with high temperatures, it’s best to use an oil that doesn’t oxidize quickly, for example coconut oil and olive oil. When you’re not cooking with an oil but using it as a dressing or a garnish, macadamia oil and hazelnut oil are good alternatives to canola oil.
How To Know What Is And Isn’t Paleo
Check out Paleo.io, the mobile app that answers the question, “is __ paleo?” Paleo.io comes with the most comprehensive paleo diet food list out there, so no matter which food you’re confused about, you’ll always be able to find out whether or not it’s paleo.
Photo credit: Andrew Hitchcock
Download Your FREE Paleo Starter Kit Today!
- 3-Day Paleo Diet Meal Plan
- Comprehensive Paleo Diet Shopping List
- 5 of Our Favorite Paleo Diet Recipes