Is that raw vegetable salad you’re about to eat laced with GMO’s and other unhealthy additives? If you’re using salad dressing from a salad bar, grocery store, restaurant, or even made in your own kitchen, the answer is probably yes.
Getting plenty of healthful fats and oils is essential for brain and total body health. But canola and soybean oils, the two used in almost all dressings, are not healthful fats, no matter what the advertisements say. They are money-making attempts that rely on fooling the public into believing that something really bad is actually something really good.
1. Canola Oil Comes from the Rapeseed Plant (Does that Tell You Something?)
Oils are traditionally named after the foods they come from, but there is nothing in nature known as a canola. The word is a marketing tool used to disguise the sordid past of this oil, which was originally created in the first half of the 1970’s from the rapeseed plant, a plant nobody wanted for anything else. In 1995, it was genetically modified by Monsanto in an effort to tone down its undesirable taste and negative health effects.
Consuming oil from the original rapeseed plant has been known anecdotally for centuries to cause heart lesions, central nervous system disorders, various cancers, constipation, and anemia. These unpleasant consequences were what geneticists and food technologists worked so hard to get rid of when they genetically modified the rapeseed plant.
Something they worked to put in was tolerance to a deluge of Roundup, Monsanto’s flagship herbicide. Canola oil has been banned in Europe and several other countries, but not in U.S. where Monsanto seems to rule. Today virtually all canola is GMO with the exception of the small bit that has been produced organically.
Canola oil contains trans fat, a type of fat linked to several health problems. According to Mary G. Enig, Ph.D. and Sally Fallon, noted experts on fats, the extraction of the oil from the plant is accomplished by the use of a toxic substance known as hexane, some of which remains in the oil even after extensive processing.
The oil is also bleached and de-gummed in another process involving chemicals and heat. All this processing causes the oil’s omega-3 content to become rancid, and it must be deodorized. In this process, trans fats are formed.
As usual with GMOs, there have been no long-tem studies done on the health effects of consuming canola oil.
2. Soybean Oil is Another Way to Sell the Unsellable
The history of soybean oil mirrors that of canola oil in many ways. Soybeans have been shunned by most cultures of the world because eating them produced a host of negative health consequences that included malnutrition, destruction of thyroid function, and developmental problems in infants and children. But clever marketers have capitalized on the current interest in natural health and have re-imaged soybeans and their oil as ‘healthy.’
Soybean oil comes from soybeans, more than 90% of which are genetically modified and regularly sprayed with Roundup herbicide. Again, there have been no long term studies to determine what this does to human health. Soybean oil is extracted with the solvent hexane, just like canola oil.
Soybean oil is the principle or only ingredient in oils marketed as ‘vegetable oil,’ but you have to look in the fine print to find this listed. Because many health-conscious people don’t want to consume soybean oil, some salad dressings have a smidgen of olive oil or some other known healthful oil in them so they can trumpet on the front of their product that it is made with healthful oil.
But when you look at the back of the bottle, you will see that soybean or canola oil is the predominant oil used.
What to use instead? Extra virgin olive oil is probably the best choice. It is minimally processed, involves no chemical solvents, and is a feature of the Mediterranean diet which has been shown to reduce all-cause mortality. Adding lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, fresh pressed garlic, sea salt, and pepper to extra virgin olive oil makes a terrific salad dressing.
But with olive oil too, marketers are trying to fool you with fake olive oil, this time by adulterating their olive oil with undesirables like canola and soybean. Go to a store you trust and look for labels that say 100% extra virgin olive oil. Unadulterated extra virgin olive oil should sell at a minimum of ten dollars for a 32 ounce bottle.
3. Why You Shouldn’t Add Any Dairy
Carotenoids are pigments found in vegetables and fruits that have repeatedly been shown to keep cancer at bay. But when milk protein is added to them, it binds the carotenoids and they lose their power. This means using dressings containing cheese, buttermilk or anything that has milk protein in it is not a good idea because you’re eating the salad for its nutritional value, right? It also means don’t put cheese in your salad – eat it later.
4. EDTA – There’s more to Watch out for than GMO Oils
EDTA is a preservative found in many commercially-prepared salad dressings that can extend the life of their color and flavor. It works by chelating minerals, and in the process it can strip you of yours, which is the exact opposite of what you are probably trying to do. Consuming EDTA can lead to digestive issues, reduced immunity, cellular and nerve dysfunction, kidney damage, and anemia.
The bottom line? You’ve spent time and money to have a healthy salad. Don’t undermine it with unworthy dressing.