A recent study suggests that canola oil consumption is linked to Alzheimer’s disease and even weight gain.

For years, canola oil has been advertised commercially as a practical and healthy choice because of its low-fat saturation and affordable cost. This made canola one of the most widely consumed vegetable oils in the world today. However, a recent study published in the journal Scientific Reports just might change the world’s perception about the health benefits associated with canola oil consumption.

Researchers from the Lewis Katz School of Medicine (LKSOM) at Temple University in Philadelphia were able to associate canola oil dietary intake with worsened memory, learning ability, and weight gain in mice models of Alzheimer’s disease. It is said to be the first time that a study pinned canola oil as more harmful than beneficial for the brain.

“Canola oil is appealing because it is less expensive than other vegetable oils, and it is advertised as being healthy,” Professor Domenico Praticò, Director of Alzheimer’s Center and Professor in the Departments of Pharmacology and Microbiology at LKSOM, said. “Very few studies, however, have examined that claim, especially in terms of the brain.”

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How Canola Oil Consumption Affects Brain Functions

Animal models of Alzheimer’s disease found in mice were used by the researchers to determine the effects of canola oil consumption on brain tissues. The mice were divided into two groups, one that was fed with a canola-rich diet and another that was fed a more regular diet. One group of mice were given the proportional equivalent of two teaspoons of daily human canola oil intake. On the other hand, another mice group was fed with the standard human diet. The two groups were then observed by the researchers for six months.

By the end of the study, the researchers were able to observe evident health effects of regular canola intake to the mice models.

The mice that were given canola-rich diet grew heavy by around 10 grams, weighing 37.71 gr from their initial weights of 27.66 gr before the study began. Aside from weight gain, the mice models that were regularly fed with canola oil were found to have worsened memories as compared to the control group.

The study emphasized the significant reduction in a particular peptide, the amyloid-beta 1-40, which causes an increase in the toxic amyloid proteins commonly associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

“Normally Aβ 1-40 is produced at higher levels, but as Aβ 1-42 is more hydrophobic and has a stronger tendency to polymerize into neurotoxic species, it seems to be of particular importance in AD pathogenesis,” the researchers explained in their paper.

The findings from the study suggest that excessive or long-term canola oil consumption contributes no health benefits to the brain at all.

“Even though canola oil is a vegetable oil, we need to be careful before we say that it is healthy,” Dr. Praticò said. “Based on the evidence from this study, canola oil should not be thought of as being equivalent to oils with proven health benefits.”

Dr. Praticò and his team are now planning to conduct a short-term study to determine the minimum extent of exposure necessary for observable changes in the ratio of both amyloid-beta 1-42 and 1-40 that occurs in the brain and make alterations to synapse connections.

“We also want to know whether the negative effects of canola oil are specific for Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Praticò added. “There is a chance that the consumption of canola oil could also affect the onset and course of other neurodegenerative diseases or other forms of dementia.”

While many believe staying healthy nowadays is costly, are you willing to replace the much affordable canola oil with the more expensive but healthier olive oil? Let us know your answer in the comment section below.

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