Message Number: YG4195 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Sukie Crandall
Date: 2001-06-01 19:34:00 UTC
Subject: Re: canola oil

I think that the canola/rapeseed confusion is happening for a few reasons:

1. The term "rape-seed oil" is a widely applied one in the U.S. and,
UNlike the term "canola oil" which has rules for what can be called
that name, can incorporate several Brassica family members which are
not necessarily well suited or used for culinary use. Canola oil
fits very strict culinary guidelines and is actually an ancient oil,
though modern varieties have even less erucic acid and glucosinolate

2. Brassicas do include the mustards as well a range of other plants
like cabbages.

3. There was a bad piece of medical research 40 years ago that led
to a ban on canola oil when panic set in. It had asserted that it
was a cause of fatty infiltration of the heart. Not only was the ban
over-turned by the FDA (1985) after extensive research and confirming
research, but canola oil is now considered one of the more healthy

4. The cultivars of culinary rape seed used for canola oil are by
law extremely low in erucic acid and glucosinolate, unlike some
rape-seed derived lubrication oils from different species. (Again,
note how widely applied "rape seed" can be as a term, whereas
"canola" can not.)

The _Oxford Companion to Food_ is written for a wide audience such as
chefs and dieticians. It was one of my sources, but mostly I used
the outstanding new academic book set, _The Cambridge World History
of Food_. which is written also for food historians and nutritional

Some exerts giving further info than what I already imparted from them (pages
1,843 and 383) of the second text:

"Rape ... annual herb ... cultivated mostly for its seeds which yield
an edible oil ... leaves of young plants serve as a vegetable ...
originated in Asia ... cultivation at least 3,000 years ago ...
introduced into China and Japan by the time of Christ ... by the 13th
century cultivated in Europe ..."

"Canola has been called 'an ideal mixture for health and nutrition'
(Ackerman, 1990) ... resulting in a net positive change in HDL:LDL