by Zareen Afridi | 11 JAN 2018
Canola oil is regarded as a safe and healthy form of fat that is helpful in reducing blood LDL cholesterol and various heart diseases. The reasons can be attributed to its low level of saturated fat and high in unsaturated fats. Canola oil can be helpful in reducing risk of inflammatory illness like heart diseases and cancer.
Canola oil gained much popularity when the world was struggling with trans fats problem. It looked as a great alternative and earned the title of ‘world's best oil’. Then why is it under the scanner until recently?
A study by Forbes shows that effect of canola oil on brain health is not so good. The studies have shown a positive degree of correlation between olive oil and brain function but the study regarding canola oil was found to be leaning on the other side.
The study was carried out on mice where one group was fed human equivalent of 2 tsp of canola oil daily and the other group was fed on olive oil. Both groups continued this diet for over a period of 6 months. After the results were out, the research team was surprised at the findings. The mice that fed on canola oil performed poor in memory tests and large amount of plaque were found in the brain arteries upon dissection. Plaque clogs the arteries, hindering blood supply to the brain. There was also a decrease in a particular peptide which links to increased chances of Alzheimer's disease.
The mice feeding on olive oil performed better as compared to the other group and had fewer plaques in their brain arteries. Mice feeding on canola oil had also gained some weight. “These differences in groups resulted in considerable neuronal damage and impairment of memory”, explains senior study investigator Dr. Domenico Pratico of Lewis Katz School of medicine at
The study leads us to ponder that why major studies around the globe focus on heart health while little concern is given over brain health? Is it possible that food great for heart health could be threat for brain, as seen from canola oil example? Undoubtedly, heart concerns continue to be the number one reason of death worldwide but disorders of the brain, especially Alzheimer' s disease are also growing with their serious implications. Diseases of the brain are not only more intriguing but their addressal is important as they are detected at a very later stage. According to a new report, there are more than 6 million people with Alzheimer's in America alone and this number is expected to reach 15 million by 2060.
The deleterious effect on mice by consuming canola oil brings us to one conclusion for sure- food affects the brain. But not all fats are bad for the brain. Joseph Hibbeln, a biochemist and a psychiatrist working in National Institute of Earth conducted a study and connected positive influence of Omega 3 fatty acid which is found in seafood and some plants. His study connected low intake of Omega 3 to many mental disorders like suicide, violence, mental instability and obesity. Another clinical psychiatrist, Drew Ramsey also notes that Omega 3 is helpful in relieving symptoms of depression.
Omega 3 fatty acid is approved by American heart Association as a polyunsaturated fat. The biggest rival of Omega 3 fatty acid is Omega 6 fatty acid, which is found in cotton seed, sunflower, safflower and corn oil. They are rivals as both the fat compete for the enzyme that can convert them into usable form by the body. The food intake should therefore consist more of Omega 3 and should not to be foiled by the intake of Omega 6. Omega 6 is also considered a polyunsaturated fat but recent controlled clinical trials show how Omega 6 rich corn oil was doing more harm than good. The analysis was published stating public consuming corn oil had lower cholesterol levels but were more likely to die. This clearly concludes that foods that are touted as good for heart can be ‘no-brainer’ for the brain.
Such foods loved by brain but hated by heart because of their oil content are listed below :
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