The food world is getting harder to navigate. Remember the 1960s and 70s when eggs were good for you? Then they were bad, then good, then bad and now good. My goodness, why can’t the healthy food community make up its mind?!
Well, science dictates the changes in healthy eating advice. The more we know, the more we can get a handle on whats good and what isn’t. We are learning so much more, so much faster as our scientific knowledge increases exponentially. The more we learn about decoding dna and the more we learn about genes, the more we can narrow down what is good and what isn’t.
However, that knowledge also lends itself to changing the foodscape. GMOs are an example of a “little bit of knowledge”. So, not only do we have to keep up on what foods are healthy and unhealthy, but now we have a much wider variety of foods and food processes to study.
This is where oil comes in. What oil is healthy? Can I cook with a certain oil? The internet is ripe with information for an against certain oils. For example, there has been a huge campaign against canola oil. Canola oil originally came from the rapeseed and was very high in erucic acid – a known toxin responsible for anything from heart to lung problems. In the 1970s, a group of Canadians cross bred a new, benign plant for canola oil. This new breed was called canola (Canadian oil low acid).
Of course, after this, the scientist at the forefront of this went to Monsanto where a genetically modified canola (still rapeseed, but no longer the toxic rapeseed) was created to withstand Round-Up. Now, most of the canola oil made and consumed is genetically modified Remember, the original rapeseed developed by the Canadians was not a GMO – it was naturally crossbred.
To make things worse, as you know, oil has to be extracted from nuts, seeds, grains, fruits and vegetables. There are several methods for doing this, but most of the canola oil you buy at the grocery store is extracted using the chemical solvent method. Using a chemical solvent, usually hexane, over 90% of the oil is able to be extracted. However, this chemical is poisonous. In fact, just breathing hexane can cause nausea and headaches and attacks the central nervous system. So, the hexane has to come out later. The hexane is removed with high heat. However, while this process removes the hexane, it is unclear as to whether there are trace amounts left and whether these trace amounts are unsafe. High heat could turn whatever amounts are left into an inhalant. Also, the high heat degrades the oil and changes the flavor (sometimes completely ruining the flavor altogether) as well as the nutritional makeup. Actually, it is truly gross – you can find videos on the internet that will show you how the extraction is done and you may not want to eat after that! Actually, here is a link to one of those videos:
So along comes non-gmo, expeller pressed oil. Utilizing the Canadian cross bred canola, the oil is extracted via the centuries old natural method called expeller pressed. A purely mechanical method is utilized and presses the seeds or fruits until oil comes out. This method is definitely not as effective as the chemical solvent and gets only about 60-70% of the oil (as opposed to over 90% from the chemical method). Hence, expeller pressed is more expensive.
The difference, however is night and day. Forget the flavor which is hugely different from its chemical induced counterpart. The method makes the difference between consuming poison to consuming one of the healthiest coils out there. Add non-GMO to the mix and what you have is now an oil lowest in saturated fat of all oils and has an omega-6 / omega-3 ratio of 2:1! Also, it has the highest smoke point (ie: canola oil 375 vs safflower or sunflower t 212 degrees),so that it makes it one of the best oils to cook with. Once oils get heated past their smoke point, you wind up with carcinogens and free radicals – just what you DON’T want in your healthy stir-fry!
Next week, I’ll offer up a chart with all the oils, the advantages and disadvantages of each. But, before ending here, you should know that Gringo Jack’s uses ONLY non-GMO, expeller pressed canola oil in both our chips AND our restaurant frying! How many restaurants can tell you that your fries, chicken etc is fried in non-toxic, non-GMO expeller pressed oil?