Node Smith, ND

Canola Oil is Bad for the Brain

Canola oil has just been found to be associated with worsened memory, learning and weight gain in mice which are used to model Alzheimer’s disease.1 Canola oil is among the most commonly consumed vegetable oils (corn, safflower are others). There hasn’t been too much research on its effect on health specifically. This study is the first to suggest these harmful effects on the brain.

Our Fatty Brains

Oils and fats are incredibly important for healthy brain function. Much of the brain is actually fat, owing to the high amount of myelin which insulates the neurons of the brain and spinal cord. Also, every cell in the body is formed of a double layer of lipids (fats) which protect the cell and keep its shape. But not all fats are created equal, and many fats and oils go rancid or are oxidized by high temperatures more easily, and the body cannot use them effectively, and they create free radicals and other toxic byproducts.

Canola oil is widely used because it is very inexpensive – and usually advertised as being healthy

Interested about the effects of canola oil on brain function, researchers focused on how the oil affected memory impairment and the formation of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in Alzheimer’s disease. Amyloid plaque and tau proteins are responsible for the formation of neurofibrillary tangles, which are the mechanism of neural dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease. This research is paralleled with a similar study by the same group of researchers earlier in 2017, which showed that olive oil actually reduced the levels of amyloid and tau, which improved memory.

Canola Oil Increases Plaque + Decreases Neural Connections

Canola oil seemed to increase the amount of plaque, as well as decrease the connections between neurons. The amount of canola oil that was tested was the equivalent to about 2 tablespoons a day. The conclusion of the study was that canola oil should not be considered on par with other oils with proven health benefits – coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil.

Image Copyright: <a href=’’>akulamatiau / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Portland, OR and associate editor for NDNR. He has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Four years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.

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