"Canola oil is appealing because it is less expensive than other vegetable oils, and it is advertised as being healthy", explained study senior author Domenico Praticò, director of the Alzheimer's Center at Temple's Lewis Katz School of Medicine. "Very few studies, however, have examined that claim, especially in terms of the brain".
Curious about how canola oil affects brain function, researchers focused their work on memory impairment and the formation of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in an Alzheimer's disease mouse model. And so they investigated a possible connection, dividing the mice into two groups at 6 months old, before the rodents developed signs of the disease. One group was given a normal diet while the other had a normal diet plus the addition of approximately two tablespoons of canola oil each day.
Assessing the mice 12 months later, they noticed significant weight gain in mice on a canola oil enriched diet. The canola-oil group also had gained a fair bit more weight than their non-oil-eating studymates.
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According to MedicalXpress, the tests also revealed that the animals had less of a protein known as amyloid beta 1-40, which offers protection from another amyloid-beta protein, 1-42, (also referred to as beta-amyloid 42) which can harm our brains.
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As a result, in the brains of the mice that were on the oil-rich diets, an increase in amyloid plaques was noted with the substances wrapping around neurons, decreasing the number of contacts between them and pointing to serious synapse injuries.
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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. But then, the scientists performed tests on the animals to study short-term memory, working memory (which helps us remember things like our favorite cake recipe) and how well mice could learn.
Canola oil can be found in household kitchens everywhere, due in part to its reputation as a heart-healthy and budget-friendly option for your frying pan. The next step these researchers would like to take is studying the effects of consumption of canola oil over a shorter duration to find the minimum effects of exposure.
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.
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The findings suggest that long-term consumption of canola oil is not beneficial to brain health.