Confused about canola?  It’s not surprising. In recent years, canola oil has been hotly disputed. The industry declares that it’s a healthy alternative to saturated fats, while others insist it is dangerous. On both sides, some claims are simply not true, and that adds to the confusion.

The truth is that there are many problems with canola – even organic canola– that make this oil bad news for joints. If you have arthritis, your best bet is to stick to healthier alternatives: coconut oil, grapeseed oil, and olive oil.

1. Canola’s processing causes problems. Canola was derived from the rapeseed. Rapeseeds were traditionally put through local stone presses and the oil was delivered fresh to villagers. But canola manufacturers heavily process their oil.  All that processing causes the canola oil to go rancid, creating free radicals that destroy joint tissue. (At a minimum canola oil undergoes refining, pre-bleaching, de-waxing and deodorization.  It may also bedegummed, hydrogenated, post-bleached, winterized, fractionated, interesterified and plasticized. )

2. “Fixing” rancid oil creates more problems. Manufacturers “solve” the rancidity issue by deodorizing the oil, so we don’t notice the foul stink. Unfortunately, the deodorization process turns canola’s omega-3 fatty acids into highly-inflammatory trans-fats which set joints on fire.  A study published in the Journal of Food Lipids shows that the trans-fat content is as high as 4.6% in commercial canola oil.These trans-fats are not listed on the label, leaving consumers in the dark.

3. Other studies link canola oil with vitamin E deficiency. That’s more bad news for arthritis sufferers, because vitamin E is a powerful warrior against cartilage-damaging free radicals. And researchers find that vitamin E helps ease the pain of rheumatoid arthritis.

4. All canola has problems.The vast majority of the canola crop in the US and Canada is genetically modified, and should be avoided.  But even organic (non-GMO) oils undergo deodorization, so steer clear of con-ola.

5. Stick to good-tasting, healthy alternatives. Extra virgin olive oil is a superb joint healer when it is used raw in dips or to dress salads and vegetables.  But don’t use it for cooking, because the heat causes it to oxidize.  Coconut oil and grapeseed oils can take the heat, and that makes them great for cooking.

We’ve many ways to use olive oil in our arthritis-healing recipes at

Check out Cartilage-Quenching Farmers Market Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette, for a crisp, crunchy salad with a dynamite dressing featuring extra virgin olive oil.