The natural health movement has been a big positive to millions of people, but there are still plenty of old misconceptions and nutrition myths that are taking years to be cleaned up.
In the case of cooking oils, there is much conflicting information out there on topics ranging from which is the healthiest oil to which is the best for medium heat, high heat, and all other forms of cooking.
But perhaps the biggest misconception lies in the case of one of the world’s most dangerous “healthy” cooking oils, which has become the recipient of so much deceptive marketing that it’s hard to even know whether it’s actually healthy or not (it can even be found in health food stores).
Now, new research is shedding light on the true cost of consuming too much of this oil, as millions of people already do each day.
New Study Links Canola Oil to Memory Loss, Plaque in the Brain
The oil in question, canola oil, is oftentimes made from a genetically modified rapeseed plant, and has actually been linked to countless health problems over the years.
Proponents call it “heart healthy” in part because of its lack of saturated fat, however one study has come out showing the harmful effects capable of being caused by over-consumption of this oil.
The latest one comes from the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia, where researchers found that a diet rich in canola oil exacerbated memory problems in mice over a period of six months, while also leading to weight gain and plaque formation in the brain.
The researchers came to these conclusions after studying mouse models of Alzheimer’s Disease according to this article from the website Medical News Daily.
The plant was originally developed by Canadian researchers in the 1970s, and gained popularity because of some studies showing it can reduce numerous disease-related factors, the article said. But the effects of canola oil on the brain and other bodily functions are just now coming to light.
“Canola oil is appealing because it is less expensive than other vegetable oils, and it is advertised as being healthy,” said Senior Study Investigator Dr. Domenico Praticò. “Very few studies, however, have examined that claim, especially in terms of the brain.”
Mice Experience a “Significantly Worse Working Memory”
The study divided Alzheimer’s mouse models into two groups, with one eating a canola-rich diet and the other fed a normal diet. Both were tracked for six months and were put through a maze that tested their learning and memory skills.
At the end of the first year, it was found that the mice who ate a canola-rich diet experienced weight gain and had a “significantly worse working memory.”
An increase in plaque formation also led to damaged synapses, the structures responsible for communication between brain cells.
“In our model, this change in ratio resulted in considerable neuronal damage, decreased neural contacts, and memory impairment,” Dr. Praticò said. You can view the results of the study here.
“There is a chance,” the doctor added, “that the consumption of canola oil could also affect the onset and course of other neurodegenerative diseases or other forms of dementia.”
Considering that canola oil is used by cooks and in restaurant fryers across the country due to its cheap and ubiquitous nature, and that it is also one of the top 10 most at-risk GMO foods, it’s safe to say that you may want to consider substituting it in your diet with a healthier alternative.
While these may be a little more expensive at first purchase, they still last a long time, and in the long run your brain (and subsequently your wallet) just may thank you.