Study suggests canola oil is not as beneficial as advertised; sustained use may cause memory problems and brain damage

Canola oil could cause weight gain and mem­o­ry loss (Los Ange­les Times):

Accord­ing to a recent study con­duct­ed on mice, just two table­spoons of canola oil per day can cause weight gain and severe pro­gres­sion of Alzheimer’s dis­ease. The new results are call­ing into ques­tion pre­vi­ous rec­om­men­da­tions of canola oil as a health­ful alter­na­tive to sat­u­rat­ed fats.

Canola oil is appeal­ing because it is less expen­sive than oth­er veg­etable oils, and it is adver­tised as being healthy,” said lead researcher Domeni­co Prat­icò, M.D. “Very few stud­ies, how­ev­er, have exam­ined that claim, espe­cial­ly in terms of the brain.”

After six months on the diet, mice that con­sumed canola oil were sig­nif­i­cant­ly heav­ier than the mice who did not. Addi­tion­al­ly, the researchers found that the canola-con­sum­ing mice expe­ri­enced sig­nif­i­cant declines in work­ing mem­o­ry, appar­ent­ly hav­ing wors­ened the onset of their Alzheimer’s. While foods like berries and salmon seem to stave off the dis­ease, canola oil could be mak­ing it worse…So far in recent research, it seems olive oil has the great­est vari­ety of health ben­e­fits when com­pared to oth­er oils.”

The Study

Effect of canola oil con­sump­tion on mem­o­ry, synapse and neu­ropathol­o­gy in the triple trans­genic mouse mod­el of Alzheimer’s dis­ease (Sci­en­tif­ic Reports)

  • Abstract: In recent years con­sump­tion of canola oil has increased due to low­er cost com­pared with olive oil and the per­cep­tion that it shares its health ben­e­fits. How­ev­er, no data are avail­able on the effect of canola oil intake on Alzheimer’s dis­ease (AD) patho­gen­e­sis. Here­in, we inves­ti­gat­ed the effect of chron­ic dai­ly con­sump­tion of canola oil on the phe­no­type of a mouse mod­el of AD that devel­ops both plaques and tan­gles (3xTg). To this end mice received either reg­u­lar chow or a chow diet sup­ple­ment­ed with canola oil for 6 months. At this time point we found that chron­ic expo­sure to the canola-rich diet result­ed in a sig­nif­i­cant increase in body weight and impair­ments in their work­ing mem­o­ry togeth­er with decrease lev­els of post-synap­tic den­si­ty pro­tein-95, a mark­er of synap­tic integri­ty, and an increase in the ratio of insol­u­ble A? 42/40. No sig­nif­i­cant changes were observed in tau phos­pho­ry­la­tion and neu­roin­flam­ma­tion. Tak­en togeth­er, our find­ings do not sup­port a ben­e­fi­cial effect of chron­ic canola oil con­sump­tion on two impor­tant aspects of AD patho­phys­i­ol­o­gy which includes mem­o­ry impair­ments as well as synap­tic integri­ty. While more stud­ies are need­ed, our data do not jus­ti­fy the cur­rent trend aimed at replac­ing olive oil with canola oil.

The Study in Context


  1. Martin B. Brilliant on January 25, 2018 at 12:11

    If we give up canola oil we will sub­sti­tute anoth­er oil. There­fore the con­trol should have been anoth­er oil, not absence of oil.

    • Alvaro Fernandez on January 30, 2018 at 12:01

      That’s a fair point — ide­al­ly they should have com­pared it with, say, “a chow diet sup­ple­ment­ed with olive oil.” 

      I sus­pect they did­n’t for sim­plic­i­ty, because there’s been plen­ty of stud­ies with olive oil that have found pri­mar­i­ly pos­i­tive effects. Had they com­pared olive vs. canola oil, and had results for canola oil been as neg­a­tive as out­lined above, some­one could have said “Well, it’s per­haps not as good as olive oil, but sure­ly it’s bet­ter than noth­ing?” Which, via the (imper­fect) method­ol­o­gy used, that was shown not to be the case.

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