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.”
With 5.5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s in 2017, this study has hopefully marked the start of more in-depth research on the widely used substance. Canola oil is often used for sautéing, baking, and other forms of cooking in the household and at restaurants.
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The mice, which were genetically engineered to develop Alzheimer’s later in life, were split into two groups before developing any visible signs of the disease. One group was fed a typical diet while the other was fed the same diet with an additional serving of canola oil. The serving was equivalent to one to two tablespoons for a human.
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.
“Even though canola oil is a vegetable oil, we need to be careful before we say that it is healthy,” said Praticò. “Based on the evidence from this study, canola oil should not be thought of as being equivalent to oils with proven health benefits.”
The researchers acknowledge that further research is needed and that this does not prove canola oil directly influences body weight in humans.
So far in recent research, it seems olive oil has the greatest variety of health benefits when compared to other oils. This is likely due to its healthy fats.