Hunter & Gather Foods logo
Hunter & Gather Foods logo

All articles

Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil is Good. Or is it?Updated a month ago

We are often asked about our position on cold-pressed rapeseed or other cold-pressed seed oils. 

In short, we do not actively recommend any cold-pressed seed oils and instead choose to recommend fruit-based oils and traditional fats that have both featured in the human diet for many millennia. 

Whilst we appreciate it is an emotive, passionate and divisive topic for many in the UK (and beyond), particularly with a significant amount of British farming land now being utilised to grow the crop and many businesses relying on the crop, we simply choose not to consume or recommend an oil from a crop that is not edible in its natural form and that has only been in our food chain a very short amount of time in relation to the development of our human species.

We appreciate many can and will call this a simplistic approach but it’s our choice, just as it’s someone else’s choice to advocate for such oils.

We would politely say that we’re choosing to ‘err on the side of caution’ with respect to the fat sources we choose and advocate for. 


A question we often get is:

“How can you say this when there is significant proof/evidence for how good cold-pressed rapeseed oil is?"

Or

“Rapeseed oil produced from British seed is, in fact, good for you, and there are numerous studies to prove it”


The evidence

Important: Let’s remember that we cannot prove anything with science. We can only disprove a hypothesis using the scientific method or provide evidence to support a hypothesis. 

Important: An absence of evidence is not evidence for absence.


Whilst we acknowledge that there is some evidence in the scientific literature in favour of the purported health benefits of these cold-pressed oils, when the evidence is reviewed in detail, it is often lacking in substance and a regurgitation of the flawed, failing and conflicted Eatwell Guide and MyPlate recommendations.

It concerns us that such evidence is often used as a position statement and consensus when, in fact, it makes a series of (arguably spurious) inferences, assumptions, and flawed observations. 

Please see a simple (and by no means thorough) review below of this paper (A systematic review of the current literature): “A Comprehensive Review of Health-Benefiting Components in Rapeseed Oil”


“There is increasing evidence that a diet rich in unsaturated fatty acids offers health benefits”

  1. There is also increasing evidence to the contrary. In fact, data observed from a 1971 randomised control trial of 846 men demonstrated an 82% proportionally higher incidence of cancer in the cohort consuming unsaturated fatty acids vs saturated fatty acids. 


“Hence, both in healthy and sick people, rapeseed oil can improve lipid metabolism, as a result, it is a health-benefiting edible oil.” -

  1. Improve lipid metabolism vs. what/ in the context of what? 

  2. Define ‘improve lipid metabolism’. 

  3. Is this aligned with the flawed ‘lower your cholesterol’ mantra? 

  4. How do we get to the conclusive statement that rapeseed is a ‘health-benefiting edible oil’? This assertion is based on indirect mechanistic observation—not a study of actual humans! 


“Rapeseed is globally known as a huge source of valuable nutrients.” - 

  1. Globally known by who? Rapeseed producers? Food industry? The ‘Eatwell Guide’ and ‘MyPlate’?

  2. A huge source of which valuable nutrients? Valuable in what context?


“A significant advantage of rapeseed oil is that it is rich in unsaturated fatty acids”

  1. Why is this a significant advantage? 

  2. A significant advantage for who or what?

  3. The 80-year-old diet-heart hypothesis, on which this vague and inaccurate statement is based, is deeply flawed. 


“Thus, rapeseed oil has health-promoting effects on diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.” 

  1. Why does it?

  2. Section 4  of the paper makes obscure/indirect links/assertions by using the word ‘could’ in several places. However, the above statement says, “rapeseed oil has health-promoting effects”. The word “has” implies cause and effect, which is inaccurate. No cause and effect has been established.


“Each content of rapeseed has its unique biological functions; thus, it can be inferred that rapeseed oil has a series of biological functions.”

  1. Whilst this sounds scientific, it clearly indicates the research shortcomings by using the word ‘inferred’.


“Thus, the optimisation of rapeseed processing for maximum retention of nutrients is very crucial, considering its potential benefits to food processing industries and consumers”

  1. A contradictory statement using the term “potential benefits”, whereas above, it’s allegedly “known globally as a valuable source”

  2. All very confusing, I am sure you would agree.


Another question we often get is:

 “But is contains an abundance of healthy Omega 3 which means it must be good for us!”

Cold-pressing is a 5000-year-old simple way of extracting oils from olives and other oily fruits. The beauty of this simple system is that the omega-3 and 6 fats (ALA and linoleic acid, respectively) remained undamaged by the process; unlike during industrialised refining. Cold-pressed rapeseed oil is about  8-12% ALA. However, whilst we agree that the omega-3 ALA may be healthy fat in its own right, it is not converted well into the essential forms of omega-3 (DHA and EPA). Research on these two essential omega-3s should not be conflated with ALA. Cold-pressed rapeseed oil is also about 18-22% linoleic acid, which is prone to oxidation and can damage ALA, flipping it from healthy to unhealthy.


Some other concerns we have:

  • Even with the 'Double Low' varieties grown here in the UK, there is still concern with the levels of Erucic acid: https://ahdb.org.uk/erucicacid - why are we dancing with the devil when there are better options?

  • Pretty staggering that the Foods Standards Agency issued this risk assessment on the use of Rapeseed oil in lieu of Sunflower oil back in 2022

  • Cold-pressed or not, it's still a source of Omega-6, which we have far too much of in our diets

  • It's not an evolutionarily consistent food source. It’s been in our diets for a few decades

  • It requires significant disruption to land, including tilling of lands to grow it.

  • It requires significant use of pest control such as insecticides and herbicides

  • Requires significant inputs and fertilisers 

  • It has all the hallmarks of an extractive, intensively farmed mono-crop system—it is not the best option for promoting biodiversity. 

  • It's toxic to dogs when growing in fields

  • Numerous reports of allergies for those living nearby, such as flu-like symptoms.


Concluding our thoughts

Our conclusion regarding the romanticised British cold-pressed version is that we can do better by consuming traditional fruit oils and animal fats, which have been part of human progress for multiple millennia. 

We will continue not to recommend cold-pressed rapeseed oil and would like to ‘err on the side of caution’ and refrain from consuming or advocating for a substance that has only been in our diets for the past 70 years or so, especially when far better options are available that can and do contribute to regenerative systems and have been part of the human diet for millennia.

Was this article helpful?
Yes
No