A Harvard University health publication is debunking myths about common cooking oils such as canola oil and olive oil.
They’re safe, don’t raise cholesterol levels, and contain ingredients that have a wide range of positive health effects, says Dr. Walter C. Willett, editorial board member of the Harvard Health Letter.
The problem has been what Dr. Willett calls “strange, Internet-fed myths.”
One such myth, he writes, is that canola oil is toxic.
“Regardless of what some strange Internet-fed myths say, canola oil comes from the rape family,” Dr. Willett said in his column, “By the Way, Doctor.”
“Rape is a member of the mustard family, and mustard oils have been used for centuries in India.”
As for olive oil, Dr. Willett answered a question from a reader who heard that olive oil used in cooking turns into trans-fatty acids that raise cholesterol. “Is this true?” the reader asked.
Replied Dr. Willett: “I’ve heard this too, and it isn’t true.” It’s partially hydrogenated oil that contains harmful trans-fatty acids, he said, and “olive oil simply has a wonderful flavor.”
Canola oil, in fact, has advantages over olive oil, he wrote. Canola oil contains less unhealthy saturated fat — only 7 percent versus 13 percent — and has omega-3 fatty acids, which have good health effects. Olive oil doesn’t have any omega-3.
So enjoy your safe cooking oils.