Jul 12, 2019

NatureFresh Acti Heart Cooking Oil Review

Thanks to yet another sponsored ad, I came across this brand of cooking oil. The product name has all the right words to capture our attention - nature, fresh, heart etc. I looked into their ads on youtube. Such fear-inducing messaging and story plot being used! The background music and the voices are so depressing. 

So what exactly does this heart-friendly(?) cooking oil made of?

It is a blended oil comprising of
  • refined rice bran oil (50% by weight)
  • refined rapeseed low erucic acid (canola) oil (50% by weight)
Refined oils are one of the key contributors to inflammation in the body. It is ironic that this refined blended oil brand talks about inflammation and how it affects our heart in their ads.

Canola oil is relatively new in India and is being pitched as heart-friendly oil. Where exactly this canola oil comes from?

Canola oil is first and foremost, a genetically modified product. According to this source

Rapeseed oil is made from the rapeseed plant, specifically from the seeds of the rape or rapeseed plant, which is a member of the mustard (Brassicaceae) family. It was in the early 1970s that canola was first bred from rapeseed at the University of Manitoba in Canada by Keith Downey and Baldur R. Stefansson. In 1998, “the most disease- and drought-resistant canola variety to date” was developed using genetic modification, and this is how the majority of recent varieties are produced. Rapeseed oil and canola oil are often used interchangeably.

Wild rapeseed oil contains large amounts of erucic acid, which is known to cause health problems, so the canola plant was developed from rapeseed in order to use it to produce a food-grade canola oil with lower erucic acid levels. The name of canola oil was originally LEAR (low erucic acid rapeseed) but for marketing purposes was changed to canola oil. This word was derived from the combination of “Canada” and “ola,” meaning oil.

You can read through the same article to understand the dangers of canola oil.

Also, do note the ingredients list for the presence of two other synthetic additives:
1. Antioxidant (INS 319) - TBHQ (Tertiary Butylhydroquinone) is used to increase shelf life and prevent rancidity. This additive triggers many harmful effects - vomiting, nausea, hyperactivity, asthma, convulsions, liver enlargements, neurotoxic effects etc. The shelf life listed on the label is 9 months. Just because the brand wants to ensure the product stays on shelves longer, do we have to consume such chemicals?

2. Antifoaming agent (INS 900a) -  Polydimethylsiloxane. The allowed daily intake is 0–1.5 mg/kg body weight per day. 
This oil contains trans fats too. 100 gm contains < 1.5 gm of trans fats. 
As I was reading through reviews on Amazon, I noticed that a few dieticians are recommending this oil. The reviews all look quite similar. Not sure how much they were paid to write such positive reviews.

People in the US are realizing the ill-effects of such refined oils and switching to healthier alternatives like coconut oil and clarified butter (ghee). But here in India, we are ditching our native, traditional oils and switching to canola oil and olive oil for Indian cooking. Enna kodumai saravanan idhu? I know I use this phrase quite a bit, but no other phrase can explain better as to what's happening currently in the food industry in India.

As I had written in my earlier article on olive oil, I prefer to use cold-pressed coconut oil, sesame oil and groundnut oil for my regular cooking needs. I use very limited oil in my cooking and I make deep-fried foods once a week.


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