Think your cooking oil is safe and healthy? Canola oil producers claim that it’s the healthiest oil you can use, but science begs to differ. Unless significant weight gain and diminished memory are your idea of good health!
Canola oil has been heralded as a modern healthy alternative to olive oil, and ‘saturated fats’ like coconut and palm oil, backed by a big promotional push from North American growers. The Canola Council of Canada pulls no punches, calling it “the healthiest of all commonly used cooking oils.” The marketing campaign appears to be working: canola oil consumption in the United States has nearly tripled since 2000, up to almost 3 million metric tons in 2017.
When asked if canola oil is the same as rapeseed oil, the answer is both “yes” and “no.” Canola oil comes from the rapeseed plant, and was called rapeseed oil until the early 1970s, when a promotional campaign to rebrand the oil was devised in conjunction with genetic-modification to remove two of the plant’s undesirable elements, erucic acid and glucosinolates.
The Rapeseed Association of Canada took the opportunity to rename the plant, and “Can” for Canada, plus “ola” for oil, was born. Producers are still keen to leave the rapeseed designation behind, hence their claim that this GM-version is a distinct type of plant. Essentially, it is a very comprehensive marketing campaign designed to confuse and lead the public to a foregone conclusion.
With more than 90% of U.S. crops and upwards of 80% of Canadian canola derived from genetically-engineered seeds, it’s almost certain that your bottle of canola oil comes from plants contaminated with chemical herbicides. Because processing removes the genetically-modified protein from the finished oils, producers consider it the same as conventional oil, believing this production process removes all potential for harm. It is therefore marketed as being 100% safe for unlimited human consumption. But as the latest medical science points out, this oil is far from being a healthy choice for human brains and bodies.
Canola oil is often promoted as a low-cost alternative to olive oil, possessing the same health benefits. It’s even promoted as having a mere 7% saturated fat, compared to olive oil’s 15%. But what does science say about the healthfulness of canola? Until recent years, no data were available on the effect of canola oil intake in relation to increasingly common diseases, like Alzheimer’s disease. Canola oil had never been examined as a causal factor in the sixteen-fold increase in deaths from Alzheimer’s reported in 1991: a total of 14,112, up from just 857 deaths reported in 1979.
In December 2017, researchers from Alzheimer’s Center at Temple University investigated the effect of daily consumption of canola oil on mice whose brains had developed both plaques and tangles, common brain characteristics for Alzheimer’spatients. Mice in the control group received a typical diet, while mice in the experimental group were fed a diet supplemented with canola oil for a period of 6 months. At the beginning of the study, mice had the same body weight. They were put through three different tests involving memory functions and conditioning, such as mazes. Ability to navigate these environments demonstrated measurable brain function and emotional stimulation.
Their findings debunked the claims of Canola oil marketers, demonstrating negative impacts to bodies and brains. Mice who were chronically exposed to canola oil experienced a significant increase in body weight; a gain of nearly one-fifth of total weight recorded just six months earlier. Effects on the brain were equally undesirable. Mice showed impairments in their working memory, demonstrated by decreased problem-solving abilities. Together with reduced levels of beneficial brain proteins that mark synaptic integrity, or how well neurons are firing, the mice performed significantly worse on all tests as compared to control mice. Synaptic integrity can affect whether or not critical connections are made in the brain, something that is vital to a functional memory and enjoying a high quality of life. Canola oil impairs synaptic integrity, which greatly exacerbates the debilitating symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers concluded that their findings do not support the beneficial effect of regular canola oil consumption, nor does their data justify the current trend aimed at replacing olive oil with canola oil in your diet. Not when research has consistently shown that olive oil reduces the same brain plaques and unhealthy proteins that canola oil increases. The same way that Big Pharma selectively publishes only favorable scientific research on drugs, canola oil producers have cherry-picked data that is both contradictory and inconclusive when viewed in its entirety. Meanwhile, consumption of extra virgin olive oil continues to deliver on its promise of being a true superfood.
A similar study was conducted by the same Temple University research group in June 2017, but this time the focus was on olive oil and its effects on Alzheimer’s brain plaques and tangles. Mice were fed a diet of normal food, or food supplemented with extra virgin olive oil for six months. Compared with controls, the group fed olive oil demonstrated improvements in their prior behavioral deficits. Synaptic integrity also improved, thanks to a significant increase in steady-state levels of synaptophysin, a protein marker of synaptic integrity. In addition, brain plaque deposition decreased, thanks to reductions in insoluble peptides and specific proteins associated with the disease. Overall, their findings supported the beneficial effect of olive oil consumption on all major features of Alzheimer’s disease.
GreenMedInfo has over 70 abstracts on olive oil, demonstrating its healthful effects on over 150 different disease conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease and breast cancer. Start enjoying these benefits immediately by swapping out your canola oil today!
 Canola Council of Canada (2016). “What is Canola?”. Retrieved 2013-10-16.
 auretti E, Praticò D. Effect of canola oil consumption on memory, synapse and neuropathology in the triple transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease.Sci Rep. 2017 Dec 7;7(1):17134. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-17373-3.
 Extra-virgin olive oil attenuates amyloid-β and tau pathologies in the brains of mice. Qosa H, Mohamed LA, Batarseh YS, Alqahtani S, Ibrahim B, LeVine H 3rd, Keller JN, Kaddoumi A. J Nutr Biochem. 2015 Dec; 26(12):1479-90.
 Effects of diets containing olive oil, sunflower oil, or rapeseed oil on the hemostatic system. Junker R, Kratz M, Neufeld M, Erren M, Nofer JR, Schulte H, Nowak-Göttl U, Assmann G, Wahrburg U. Thromb Haemost. 2001 Feb; 85(2):280-6.
 Lauretti E, Iuliano L, Praticò D. Extra-virgin olive oil ameliorates cognition and neuropathology of the 3xTg mice: role of autophagy. Ann Clin Transl Neurol. 2017 Jun 21;4(8):564-574. doi: 10.1002/acn3.431. eCollection 2017 Aug.
Boy or Girl – Baby Gender Selection Issues
Some parents have the possibility to opt for gender selection; however, being able to decide whether to have a baby boy or girl is a controversial issue.
Many couples expecting a baby do not think it’s a big issue whether they have a boy or a girl; however there are several medical, social, and personal reasons that could influence parents to recur to some form of gender selection.
Like many other controversial practices, the legality of gender selection, also known as sex selection, varies from country to country.
The Legality of Baby Gender Selection
The United States has perhaps some of the most relaxed laws regarding baby gender selection in the world. Most European countries and Australia, on the other hand, have bans on sex selection and only allow it for medical reasons. For example, if a parent is a carrier of a mutation or gene with more chances of manifesting itself in a certain gender, baby gender selection is valid. However, if parents simply wish to balance the ratio of boys and girls in their family, they are not allowed to recur to sex selection.
This has generated a form of medical tourism in which couples from countries where gender selection is illegal, like the UK, travel to the US in order to be able to choose whether to have a baby boy or girl.
On the other hand, sex selection is illegal in the two most populated countries on Earth, China and India. In these countries, baby gender selection has been performed clandestinely for many years and for reasons other than family balancing or avoiding genetic diseases. In these societies, having a baby boy is preferred mainly for cultural and economic reasons. Parents believe that boys have better chances of earning income and eventually support them when they reach an old age.
Methods of Baby Gender Selection
There are two major types of gender selection methods: the first one is called sperm sorting, and involves separating X-chromosome sperm from Y-chromosome sperm by flow cytometry, a purification technique in which chromosomes are suspended in a stream of sperm and identified by an electronic detector before being separated. Intra-uterine insemination or in-vitro fertilization can then be performed with the enriched sperm. The success rates for this method vary from 80% to 93%.
The other method, called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, consists in generating several embryos through in-vitro fertilization, which are then genetically tested to determine a baby’s gender. The chosen embryos can then be implanted. This method has a success rate of almost 100%; however, it can be quite expensive, costing up to $15,000.
Issues Regarding Baby Gender Selection
While there are few objections against baby gender selection when it is performed for medical reasons, it has become a highly controversial issue when it is used for balancing the number of boys or girls in families. Some people raise the obvious ethical question of whether people who opt for gender selection are “playing God” by manipulating whether to have a baby boy or girl. Others believe that new parents will raise a baby more appropriately if he or she belongs to their preferred gender.
Gender Imbalance Caused by Baby Gender Selection
Gender selection has caused demographic concern in China and India since it has contributed to generate a gender imbalance in the populations of those countries. In some regions of China, for example, the sex ratio for newborns is 118:100, boys to girls. This phenomenon has in turn been associated with social problems such as an increase in violence and prostitution.
It seems like a logical solution for governments around the globe to legalize baby gender selection but to analyze the personal reasons why each couple intends to select a baby boy or girl. Gender selection for medical reasons should even be encouraged, since it could prevent serious genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Huntington’s disease, and Haemophilia A. Balancing the gender ratio of a family should be accepted if by doing this, a healthy family environment is created. On the other hand, China and India have shown that baby gender selection as a result of a bias towards a particular gender can not only create a gender imbalance in the population, but contribute to social problems as well.
Organic Certification: What the USDA Organic Label Means
- The Facts:
Organic and natural labels mean different things, and various types of labels tells you what percentage of ingredients are actually organic. We'll explore what to look for.
- Reflect On:
Do you sometimes buy products thinking they are organic or fully natural based on their wording? Have you later found out that those products aren't natural or organic at all? Read labels more closely at grocery stores to be aware.
Don’t get conned by fraudulent claims of “natural” or “organic.” Learn what to look for, and why it’s important, to ensure you’re getting the quality you are paying for.
The industrial age of the 20th century brought about changing agricultural practices that have generated increasing alarm about the effects of these practices on the environment and health. The use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, irradiated and genetically altered food and fiber products has created a groundswell of rightful concern. It has led to the growing demand for non-toxic, organic products that many are willing to pay a higher price for to ensure the healthful purity of food and clothing provided for their families.
With such profit opportunities, it’s little wonder that the lucrative organic product market has suffered abuse with so-called “organic” labels being fraudulently placed on products that have not earned the right. As a result of pressure from farming and consumer groups, legislation for the standardization of organic certification was introduced in the 1980s. It has been updated to include more vigorous enforcement and control methods since, with the current standards established in 2002 by the USDA.
The Standards of USDA Organic Certification
Specific standards must be met in order to legally claim a product as USDA certified organic. Organic producers must utilize methods that conserve water, maximize soil health, and reduce air pollution. The specific standards to earn USDA organic certification include:
• Free of synthetic chemicals such as insecticides, herbicides, fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics, and additives
• Free from irradiation and genetically modified organisms
• Agricultural products grown on land that has been free of prohibited substances for a period of three years
• Animals used for meat, eggs, milk or other animal products must be exclusively fed foods that are organically grown, may not be given antibiotics or hormones, and must have access to outdoors.
• Clean and sanitized harvesting and processing equipment throughout the process from harvest to finished, packaged product
• Detailed chain-of-handling records from the field through final sales
• Physical separation of certified organic products from non-organic products throughout the process of production
• Regular on-site inspections from USDA-approved inspectors to ensure compliance
Understanding the Certified Organic Label
Once the rigorous process of certification has been completed, organic producers may place the USDA certified organic seal on their products. Currently, there are four levels of certified organic products, with a specific definition of the percentage of organic ingredients the final products contains. They are as follows:
• 100% organic: all production methods and ingredients are USDA certified organic.
• Organic: at least 95% of the production methods and ingredients are USDA certified organic with remaining ingredients included on the National List of allowed ingredients.
• Made With Organic Ingredients: at least 70% of the ingredients are USDA certified organic with remaining ingredients included on the National List of allowed ingredients.
• No organic wording or seal: less than 70% of the ingredients are USDA certified organic and no claims may be made on the front or back of the product.
Manufacturers or producers who knowingly label a product “organic” when it does not meet the USDA standards are subject to fines up to $11,000 per violation.
Why Organic Certification is Important
When you see the official USDA organic certification seal on food, clothing, and bedding products, you can be assured that these products have met the meticulous standards required and are free of chemicals, toxins, antibiotics, and hormones. When you see the USDA certified organic label, you will understand the value of the higher priced organic products as compared to non-organically produced products.
With the current stringent organic certification requirements enforced by regular inspections from USDA accredited agents, the USDA certified organic label has great meaning and importance to the consumer. Look for the label to know that you are getting the quality you are paying for.
WHO Finds Global Lack Of Inactivity Rising Especially In Wealthier Countries — What You Can Do
- The Facts:
Inactivity is on the rise and it's the cause of a wide range of health concerns. Our population is only becoming more inactive, not less, and it's time to change that.
- Reflect On:
There are many factors of our modern world that make us less active. Our jobs, driving rather than walking/biking, too much screen time. What can you do differently to bring more activity into your life? What story stops you from starting?
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than a quarter of the entire population on this planet are not getting enough physical exercise, this number has barely improved since 2001. There are many factors that contribute to this, but just how much damage are we doing by failing to be active?
The lack of physical exercise raises the risk of many health problems, such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes and various types of cancers.
Interestingly, according to their study published in The Lancet Global Health, higher income countries, such as the UK, were among the least active population. Women were also found to be more sedentary throughout the world, excluding two regions in Asia.
The study looked at self-reported data on activity levels from 358 population based surveys covering 168 countries and included 1.9 million people.
The populations of higher income countries, which include the UK and USA showed an increase in the proportion of inactive people and had actually risen from 32% in 2001 to 37% in 2016, in the lower income countries it remained at 16%.
Those who were classified as inactive did less than 150 minutes of moderate exercise and around 75 minutes of intense activity per week.
It was found that women were less active than men overall, except for in South and Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and higher-income Western countries. The authors believe that this was caused by a few different factors including extra childcare duties and cultural perspectives that may have made it more difficult for them to exercise.
Why More Inactivity In Wealthier Countries?
According to the researchers, in the wealthier countries, many of the jobs have transitioned to more office or desk jobs, meaning a more sedentary type of lifestyle. On top of that much of the population of these countries drive automobiles or take public transit to and from work which in many cases accounts for a lot of their time.
In the lower income countries, many of the jobs require the people to be more active, are physically demanding and people often have to walk to and from their jobs.
The WHO has had a goal to reduce the global levels of inactivity by 10% by 2025, the authors of the study feel that at the rate we are currently going, this target will be missed.
Lead author of the study, Dr. Regina Guthold said, “Unlike other major global health risks, levels of insufficient physical activity are not falling worldwide, on average, and over a quarter of all adults are not reaching the recommended levels of physical activity for good health.”
Regions with increasing levels of insufficient physical activity are a major concern for public health and the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.”
Co-author, Dr. Fiona Bull added, “Addressing these inequalities in physical activity levels between men and women will be critical to achieving global activity targets and will require interventions to promote and improve women’s access to opportunities that are safe, affordable and culturally acceptable.”
According to the WHO,
Exercise guidelines for 19- to 64-year-olds
- at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity every week
- strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles
- break up long periods of sitting with light activity
What is moderate aerobic activity?
- Walking fast, water aerobics, riding a bike on level ground or with a few hills, doubles tennis, pushing a lawn mower, hiking, skateboarding, rollerblading, volleyball, basketball
What counts as vigorous activity?
- Jogging or running, swimming fast, riding a bike fast or on hills, singles tennis, football, rugby, skipping rope, hockey, aerobics, gymnastics, martial arts
What activities strengthen muscles?
- lifting weights, working with resistance bands, doing exercises that use your own body weight, such as push-ups and sit-ups, heavy gardening, such as digging and shovelling, yoga
What activities are both aerobic and muscle-strengthening?
- circuit training, aerobics, running, football, rugby, netball, hockey
I was surprised to see that the WHO didn’t touch on inactivity due to too much screen time — watching television, Netflix, Facebook scrolling, messaging, texting, browsing etc. Certainly, the increase in screen time plays a roll with the amount of inactivity, especially in the higher income countries. If you are someone who spends too much time staring at a screen, then it is important to consider the above information. Can you limit your screen time and replace it with something active? Or would you consider jumping rope, or rebounding while watching the television? Our health is our greatest wealth and having awareness about an issue is the first way to create change and take responsibility for our lives.
Could you walk or bike to work instead of drive? What about trying a new sport? Could you commit to adding a few hours each week of physical activity? These small decisions could have a profound impact on your health, longevity and overall well-being.
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