The health benefits of rapeseed oil for horses

There is a lot of confusion surrounding different types of oils – and some get negative press. Below is some information about rapeseed oil and its benefits from Natalia Davis, Nutritionist at Neoflo Equine and Norvite, and why we decided to use it in our feeds.

Rapeseed oil is used for a variety of purposes, including industrial ones. In the past, the standard rapeseed grown naturally contained high levels of undesirable compounds. However, over time, these anti-nutritional factors have been bred out of rapeseed, so the most common variety grown now is a double zero rapeseed, as this is where the demand lies. Double zero rapeseed is very low in the undesirable compounds erucic acid and glucosinolates.

If consumed in large quantities, erucic acid is toxic and glucosinolates are goitrogenic which is why it was important to grow a variety that didn’t contain high levels of these. The rapeseed oil that we are using in our feeds is of the double zero variety.


The dangers of industrially processed oil

One of the main points to bear in mind with any vegetable oil is whether it is industrially processed (refined) or cold pressed. Oils that are industrially processed are extracted using chemical (hexane) treatment and high temperatures, as well as having various elements taken out and added back in. Therefore the end result is an oil that is denatured and chemically different from the natural oil that was in the seed. As with the hydrogenated or trans fatty acids, this means that the chemical structure is changed and may be harmful to the body, as well as no longer containing the beneficial fatty acids and polyphenols/antioxidants that were naturally present originally.


Neoflo Equine – A cold pressed rapeseed oil

Our rapeseed oil, Neoflo Equine, is cold pressed. This means it does not go through any of this harsh industrial processing. It is a very simple process that squeezes the oil from the seed – in the same way that olive or linseed oil is produced. This means that the oil maintains its original chemical structure, and with it the beneficial fatty acids, vitamin E and other antioxidants/polyphenols that it is valued for.

Something that demonstrates this is the palatability of the oil. Oils that have been denatured are altered in their chemical structure, may go rancid, and taste different as a result, which horses being such sensitive creatures soon pick up on. We do not add anything to the oil (and don’t need to) so it is just pure oil as it is squeezed from the seed.

Our supplier has carried out testing on its fatty acid profile, both when freshly pressed and again on a 12-month-old sample to check degradation. There was no discernible difference between the two which indicates that it is maintaining its freshness over time. In any case, our supplier is pressing oil continuously to meet demand, so it is never stored for any length of time and is used and fed whilst still very fresh. We transitioned from using soya oil in our feed to using rapeseed oil in October 2016. We did this for several reasons.

Rapeseed oil is:

  • GM-free – We couldn’t guarantee this with the soya oil.
  • Highly palatable for horses.
  • Provides high levels of natural vitamin E which works as an antioxidant.
  • More favourable omega 3:6 ratio (1:2) than soya oil (as previously used).
  • UFAS and NOPS-approved.
  • Low food miles – Grown and pressed in the UK.
  • We use cold pressed rapeseed oil which preserves the natural nutritional benefits of the oil including palatability and anti-antioxidants, which can otherwise be destroyed by heat or chemical treatment.
  • High in mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
  • Valuable source of slow release energy.

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