Seed Oil

Canola Oil is Repurposed Motor Oil: NOT a Food for Humans

by Mike Mutzel

1 comment

Let's discuss the history of canola oil and how this repurposed motor oil became a staple in our food supply.


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Research Cited:

BELL, J. M. From Rapeseed to Canola: A Brief History of Research for Superior Meal and Edible Oil1. Poult. Sci. 61, 613–622 (1982).

Key Takeaways:

Initial interest in rapeseed (canola oil) production centered on its oil, which had special properties as a marine engine lubricant that were later associated with the high content of erucic acid. After the 2nd World War, Canada was left with a significant production capability and developed methodologies to reduce the harmful erucic acid content out of the oil so it would be non-toxic for human consumption. Now it's ubiquitous in our food supply.

Time Stamps:

00:00 Canola is repurposed motor oil.

00:33 Linoleic acid in canola likely increases your risk for cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis.

00:50 Canola contains high amounts of toxic fatty acid, erucic acid.

01:20 Canola is derived from rapeseed.

04:30 Consume fruit oils, not oils from seeds.

05:10 Linoleic acid prevents conversion of alpha linolenic acid into omega 3 fats EPA and DHA.

06:00 High in linoleic acid: sunflower oil, corn oil, soy oil, cotton seed oil, canola.

07:50 Omega 6 vegetable oils likely causes atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.

08:30 Reducing linoleic laden seed oils in your diet may help prevent LDL oxidation.

Episode Transcript:

Did you know that canola oil is repurposed motor oil? I know that sounds a little bit crazy because canola oil is on the shelves of many major supermarkets. It's in our food supply. In fact, it's ubiquitous in our food supply. From salad dressings, to crackers, to gluten-free potato chips and pretzels, cereals, and beyond, canola oil is everywhere. Little did you know that this was repurposed motor oil. Yes. Let me tell you the story of canola oil, and we'll talk specifically about how diets high in canola oil are problematic for increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease. Because it turns out that canola oil is enriched in linoleic acid that can increase your LDL cholesterol to become more oxidized or modified, increasing your risk for cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis. But first, let's talk about the story of canola oil. Because these details matter, my friends, because there's no human or animal that would ever be able to physiologically consume large amounts of canola oil.

Because it turns out that canola oil has high amounts of a toxic fatty acid that's 22 carbons long known as erucic acid. It wasn't until scientists in Canada, specifically at University of Manitoba in the 1980s, discovered techniques, distillation techniques and processing techniques, to remove this cardiotoxic erucic acid out of the oil to make it safe for human consumption. Here's the history and backstory on canola oil. It's derived from the rapeseed and it is classified in the brassica family along with turnips, cabbage, broccoli, and mustard seeds. Since the industrial Revolution, rapeseed oil has been an important component of lubricants for ships and steam engines, because unlike most other oils, it sticks to wet metal. During World War II, the US built a lot of ships, so it needed lots of rapeseed oil, but couldn't get it from traditional suppliers in Europe and Asia. The Canadian rapeseed industry, which has been relatively small, exploded to fill the gap and played an important role in the Allied Naval effort, becoming rich and powerful in the process.

But the rapeseed oil demand plummeted when the World War was over, and so began an intensive program to breed rapeseed edible to humans. Hint, remember the story of cotton seed? So we have this waste product, motor oil. Lest I remind you, these are business-oriented people trying to figure out, “Well, hey, we were growing and selling a lot of this rapeseed oil for the World War, World War II specifically, and we don't know what to do with it now. What if we could just repurpose this and put it in the food supply?” That's exactly what Procter & Gamble did with Crisco. As you might remember, cotton seeds are a waste product of cotton, the cotton gin process. These seeds would just pile up outside of the cotton mills. Animals would eat them, usually they die. Someone said, “Well, what if we were to squeeze out the oil,” which also has a toxin in it. Cotton seeded oil has a toxin known as gossypol.

It turns out that, as you can see this trend here, canola oil has a toxin known as erucic acid. Meaning that really no animals or humans would ever be able to eat this without extensive processing and technology. Which leads us to suggest we probably shouldn't be consuming this, especially in large amounts in ultra-processed foods. I mean, all of the meat alternatives Beyond Burger, Impossible Burger, what do you see? You see canola oil, sometimes cottonseed oil. Crackers, cookies, cakes, chips, candy, all these things have cottonseed oil, and usually some sort of canola oil or sunflower oil. These things, again, are not generally healthy because no human or animal could eat these in the natural state. It depends upon industrial techniques to actually make them modifiable.

Before we go on and talk about the history here and talk about the cardiotoxic effects potentially of diets high in linoleic acid and canola oil, I just want to say thank you for being here. Hopefully you're enjoyingCottonseedt. In today's show we're talking a lot about metabolic health and Cottonseed health. A tool that can help you, especially curbing your evening food cravings for unhealthy, hyper-palatable junk food like ice cream, cookies, and crackers, is the Berberine Fasting Accelerator by Myoxcience. If you're interested in supporting your cardiometabolic health this year, you might want to consider the Berberine Fasting Accelerator in the evening, two to three capsules to help curb those pesky evening food cravings, and possibly cravings for alcohol. There's hundreds of reviews over at I'll encourage you to click the link in the description below, check out some of those reviews. If you're interested in supporting your cardiometabolic health, you can save with the code, podcast, at checkout over at

Okay, so let's go on and talk a little bit more about canola and why it's problematic, and specifically talk about the linoleic acid hypothesis of cardiovascular disease. I think this is really important. Now, the take-home message here is when consuming oils, you want to consume fruit oils, not oils from seeds. I think this is the biggest take-home message, and this is where we come into problems. When we have, say, oils from fruits like a coconut or olive oil, for example, much more healthy compared to, say, cottonseed or canola oil because these are derived from the seeds that have natural antinutrients that make the consumer, i.e., you or an animal sick.

We do not see that in olive oil. We don't see that in coconut oil. We do not see that in most other nut-based oils like pumpkins and so forth. So it's important that that's the take-home message here. Now, as you might see, a common trend in these seed oils is they're enriched in linoleic acid. Now, linoleic acid has several problems. Number one, it prevents the conversion of alpha linoleic acid into EPA and DHA. I know I'm throwing out a lot of multisyllabic words here, so just, lest I remind you that alpha linoleic acid is a precursor to the long chain cardioprotective and neurologically protective Omega-3 fats, EPA and DHA. When you consume linoleic acid, it actually functions to decrease that conversion of ALA into protective EPA and DHA. So that's problem number one.

Problem number two is linoleic acid is highly oxidizable. So when you're cooking with vegetable oil, when it's in your diet, when it's in your body at 98.6 degrees, floating around in a milieu of poor cardiometabolic health, insulin resistance, high levels of sterile inflammation, free radical stress, that can become problematic. We're going to talk about the specific cardiometabolic links with diets high in linoleic acid oils such as canola oil, very soon.

But here's a short list of oils that are high in linoleic acid. Sunflower oil contains 66% linoleic acid. Now you might say, “Well, where do we get sunflower oil?” Again, from the seeds. So we're seeing another seed oil high in a highly oxidizable oil that can be problematic. Corn oil. Now, you know the problem with corn. Corn is heavily sprayed with atrazine and glyphosate, which is problematic. Now we have soybean. Again, soybean oil is high in linoleic acid. It's about 55% linoleic acid. Soybeans are heavily sprayed, heavily genetically modified, not good. Cottonseed oil, 53% linoleic acid. You have canola oil, which is around 21% linoleic acid. Compared to olive oil, it's about 2% linoleic acid. So those are the differences here so that you can better understand. Now, it turns out that corn and soy and sunflower don't have the same level of toxins that cottonseed and canola oil do, but just understand that they are enriched in linoleic acid. And these compounds are usually derived from crops, corn and soy, that are heavily sprayed with atrazine and glyphosate, which are very problematic for your health.

Okay, so we've done a review on this paper before, but I just thought it would be helpful to talk about it now. The title of this, which was published by James DiNicolantonio and James O'Keefe, titled Omega-6 Vegetable Oils as a Driver of Coronary Heart Disease: The Oxidized Linoleic Acid Hypothesis. Now, this article goes into the 26 different ways that diets enriched in these industrial seed oils are problematic for increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease. Now, it turns out there's evidence implicating omega-6 rich vegetable oils as a causative factor in atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease, and they highlight, again, 26 different mechanisms.

Now, it turns out when your low density lipoprotein cholesterol, or your LDL, or some people say wrongly, bad cholesterol, because you need cholesterol, so not all LDL is bad. The problem with LDL is it can become oxidized or modified, and that can contribute to cardiovascular disease in the process known as atherosclerosis. It's that oxidation or modification step that initiates the process of atherosclerosis. So the thinking goes that if you can reduce the propensity for your LDL to become oxidized or modified, you can prevent the formation of atherosclerotic plaque. It turns out that by minimizing or reducing the amount of linoleic acid derived seed oils in your diet might be a key step in helping to prevent this LDL oxidation.

Now, of course, we have to reduce free radical stressors, we have to exercise, we have to improve metabolic health. All of these things go into the free radical milieu that might lend your physiology internally to increase the susceptibility of LDL oxidation. But you're not doing yourself any favor by having a diet high in these oils. Now, where would one get these oils in their diet? Well, of course, any packaged food. If you look at the back… I was just at the store the other day, here's a picture of my daughter. Right next to the vegetable oil was sugar, so the two things that you don't want to be paired together are found at the front end of the grocery store where hundreds of people are shopping every single day. So that's problematic. Minimizing these in terms of the cooking process, going back to cooking with butter, or beef fat, or lamb fat, lard, things like that, that have been used for hundreds of years prior to these industrial-made oils, I think is very healthy, and then avoiding the packaged foods.

Because when you look at the back of chips, when you look at crackers, cookies, candy, all of the packaged foods that lead people down the wrong metabolic path are usually enriched in these oils, which are problematic. That's the take-home message. Focus on eating oils derived from fruits not from seeds. Canola oil is repurposed motor oil, and you do not want to be… You're not a steam engine, right? You are a human being. Any food that needs to be modified and extensively bred and used with a lot of chemicals to spray on it is probably not fit for human consumption. We don't see these problems eating, say, apples, or oranges, or bananas, or blueberries, or walnuts, or olives off the tree. We do not need a massive industrial complex to mitigate these foods so that they're safe.

That's why I'm pushing back against cottonseed, as well as canola, because it turns out when you know the history of these, you realize that these are pretty unhealthy, based upon the extensive modification that they need to remove the antinutrients in them that are particularly problematic. That's it for today's show, my friends. Hopefully you found this helpful. If you did hit that like button, be sure to leave a comment in the comment section below, and we'll catch you on a future episode down the road.


  1. I think you are correct to suggest vegetable oils cause atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. That said, the excess of obesity and diabetes in the World seem to have a different cause. In my view, grain-fed poultry and pork are the major drivers of the obesity epidemic. (web searches – Meat consumption and the risk of general and central obesity, Poultry consumption and human cardiometabolic health, Effects of adding lean red meat to a healthy diet.

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