We often use canola oil as a staple cooking ingredient but a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports reveals that a diet rich in canola oil resulted in weight gain and exacerbated memory problems in mice.
Senior study investigator Dr. Domenico Praticò, of the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, told Medical News Today that many of the supposed benefits of canola oil rely on unsubstantiated proof.
“Canola oil is appealing because it is less expensive than other vegetable oils, and it is advertised as being healthy,” notes Dr. Praticò. “Very few studies, however, have examined that claim, especially in terms of the brain.”
In the study, Dr. Praticò and his team investigated the effect of canola oil on brain health. The team used 6-month-old mouse models to test the link between the oil and its influence on Alzheimer’s disease.
Unfortunately, we still don’t know what causes Alzheimer’s disease, we only know that it is characterized by extreme memory loss and learning difficulties in sufferers.
For a 6 month period, one group of mice was fed the human equivalent of two teaspoons of canola oil every day and a separate group was fed a normal diet.
The mice completed a maze test on their first birthday to test their learning and memory skills.
The maze test revealed to researchers that the mice fed canola oil had a worse working memory and experienced weight gain.
Researchers believe the memory loss was due to an increase in harmful plaque. This plaque is known to damage the brain synapses, the structures integral for communication between brain cells.
Dr Praticò thinks the long-term consumption of canola oil may do us more harm than good.
“Even though canola oil is a vegetable oil, we need to be careful before we say that it is healthy. Based on the evidence from this study, canola oil should not be thought of as being equivalent to oils with proven health benefits.”
His team now plans to further its studies into canola oil consumption and also research whether canola oil’s effect on the brain is limited to Alzheimer’s disease.
“There is a chance,” Dr. Praticò adds, “that the consumption of canola oil could also affect the onset and course of other neurodegenerative diseases or other forms of dementia.”