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Canola Oil: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects by Dr. Smita Barode

By Dr Smita Barode +2 more


Canola is a yellow flowering plant which belongs to the family Brassicaceae. Three different species in this family are Brassica rapa, Brassica napus and Brassica juncea. B.napus, also known as rapeseed, was identified in 2000 B.C. originally in Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. Rapeseed is a crop high in erucic acid. It is known to contain >40% erucic acid (monounsaturated omega-9-fatty acid). Animal studies showed erucic acid was unhealthy for human use and used in small quantities for industrial use in North America.  

In 1976, Canadian scientists were able to improve the quality of rapeseed. In 1979, Canada registered the word “canola” for the discovery of a new seed found to produce oil, which was low in erucic acid and glucosinolates. Canola oil has now become has become one of the major oilseed crops worldwide. After palm and soyabean oil, canola oil production ranks third largest vegetable oil by volume. Let us find more exciting benefits regarding canola oil.1 

Nutritional Value of Canola oil: 

Canola oil contains no traces of cholesterol and is made up of unsaturated fats, this is the reason why it is considered healthier compared to other oils. 

Nutritional components Percent composition 
Saturated fatty acids 7 
Oleic acid 61 
Linoleic acid 21 
Alpha linoleic acid 11 
Sterols 0.53-0.97 
Tocopherols 700-1200 ppm 

Table 1: Nutritional value of Canola oil1 

Properties of Canola oil: 

Scientific literature has found that the consumption of canola oil shows numerous properties as mentioned below: 

  • It may be an antioxidant. 
  • It may be an anticancer agent. 
  • It might have anti-ageing properties. 
  • It may show anti-inflammatory action. 
  • It may be cholesterol-free.2 

Potential Uses of Canola oil for Overall Health: 

Some of the potential benefits of Canola oil are described as follows: 

1. Potential uses of canola oil for Hyperlipidemia 

Hyperlipidemia is a risk factor for most cardiovascular diseases, which might be closely linked to plasma lipid levels. Vegetable oils like canola oil may help improve plasma lipids. Ghobadi et al. conducted a systematic review in 2019 to assess the effect of canola oil consumption on lipid profile. The review showed that consumption of canola oil significantly reduced low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and total cholesterol (TC) and did not affect high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and triglycerides. This indicates that the consumption of canola oil may improve TC & LDL. However, more studies are required to confirm these claims.3 

2. Potential uses of canola oil for hepatic steatosis 

Hepatic steatosis, or fatty liver disease causes the prolonged fat accumulation in the liver. It impairs hepatic metabolism and can result in inflammation of the liver. Studies show that consumption of canola oil may have a positive impact on hepatic steatosis. Maryam et al. conducted a study in 2021 to assess the effect of canola oil consumption on hepatic steatosis in women suffering from PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). The intervention included the consumption of canola oil 25g/d for 12 weeks. Results showed that women who consumed canola oil showed a reducing trend in the fatty liver grade. This indicates that canola oil may help in treating hepatic steatosis. However, more studies are needed to claim these results.4 

3. Potential uses of canola oil on inflammation and oxidative stress in Type II DM 

Insulin resistance and oxidative stress play an important role in the pathophysiology of Type II DM. Atefi et al. conducted a study in 2018 to assess the effect of canola oil on insulin resistance, oxidative stress and inflammation in women with Type II DM. The intervention included consumption of 30g/d canola oil for 8 weeks. The study results concluded that consumption of canola oil in type II DM might help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. This indicates that canola oil may help manage Type II DM. However, more studies are needed to support these claims.5 

4. Potential uses of canola oil for central obesity 

Central obesity is the accumulation of visceral fat or excess weight around the body’s centre. Canola oil is a cholesterol-free oil that can help in managing obesity. Liu et al. conducted a study in 2016 to assess the effects of diets low in saturated fatty acids or high in polyunsaturated fatty acids/ monounsaturated fatty acids on body composition. This study showed that participants who received canola oil had a reduced fat mass, especially males. Therefore, there is a certainty that canola oil may help in reducing central obesity, but we need more studies to support these claims.6 


5. Other potential uses of canola oil 

  • It may improve brain functioning due to the omega-3-fatty acids present. 
  • It is a good source of antioxidants and may help in improving the metabolism. 
  • Vitamin E & K present in canola oil may have an anti-aging effect. 
  • It may help in relieving stiffness and tenderness in joints, a property that can be beneficial in arthritis. 
  • It may help patients with asthma because of its anti-inflammatory properties.2 

Though there are studies that show the benefits of canola oil in various conditions, these are insufficient and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of canola oil on human health.  

Judging from what I’ve witnessed, canola oil might be a safe choice for people with food allergies. This is because it doesn’t have the proteins that usually cause allergic reactions. So, you may use canola oil without any worries.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

How to Use Canola oil? 

Canola oil can be used in the following ways: 

  • As canola oil is a highly processed oil, it can be used for everyday home cooking. 
  • For people with a vegetarian diet preference, canola oil can be a good source of fatty acids, eliminating the need to consume meat. 
  • It can be used for sautéing, deep frying and stir-frying. 
  • Canola oil is also used in salad dressings or baking.2 

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking any herbal supplements. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor.   

Let me share something really interesting about canola oil. It contains vitamin E, including gamma-tocopherol and alpha-tocopherol. Vitamin E might play an important role in keeping your cell membranes healthy, especially those in your mucus membranes and skin. It does so by acting as a potential shield against harmful oxygen-free radicals that might damage your cells.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Side Effects of Canola oil: 

A few side effects related to the use of canola oil include: 


  • It may harm the heart and the liver due to the toxic mustard gas, produced as a by-product.2 
  • Erucic acid can hinder normal growth, although it is present in small amounts.2 
  • As canola oil is partially hydrogenated, it may cause artery inflammation and calcification.2 
  • Daily use of canola oil may result in memory issues.7 
  • Presence of omega-3-fatty acids, may prolong the bleeding time.8 

However, if you experience any adverse reactions to canola oil, immediately contact a doctor or your Ayurvedic physician who has prescribed it to you. They will be able to guide you appropriately for your symptoms. 

Canola oil, which has a high smoke point, might be ideal for deep frying, in my view. It might withstand high temperatures up to 246°C without smoking. This means that when you use canola oil for deep frying, the oil is less likely to be absorbed by the food. So, you may get deliciously crispy fried foods with less oil retention.

Dr. Smita barode, B.A.M.S, M.S.

Precautions to take with canola oil:  

  • Being an oil, it is flammable, so use it with caution. 
  • Although the association between the use of canola oil and memory impairment is not confirmed in humans, it is advised that people with impaired cognition should take necessary precautions. 

The use of canola oil is contraindicated in the following conditions: 

  • People with cardiac disorders, because the use of excessive canola oil is linked with arterial inflammation. 
  • Pregnant and lactating women should be careful and consult a doctor for advice as the use of excessive canola oil is linked with stunted growth.2 

Interactions with Other Drugs: 

There is a lack of data regarding the interaction of canola oil with other drugs. If you’re taking blood thinners, kindly consult with your doctor. Additionally, you must always seek the advice of your Ayurvedic physician about the possible interaction of canola oil with other drugs, and follow the prescription thoroughly, as they will know your health condition and other medications you are taking. 

Frequently Asked Questions: 

1) What is rapeseed oil? 1) What is rapeseed oil? 

Rapeseed is a crop high in erucic acid, known to contain >40% erucic acid (monounsaturated omega-9-fatty acid). Canola oil is the modified version of this plant, with improved quality.1 

2) What is the scientific name of the canola oil plant? 

Canola oil plant is scientifically known as Brassica rapa.1 

3) Is it safe to use canola oil during pregnancy? 

The use of canola oil during pregnancy should be avoided, as it can lead to stunted growth of the infant. Kindly, consult your doctor for proper advice.2 

4) Can canola oil help with an abnormal lipid profile? 

Canola oil may show a reduction in total cholesterol and LDL. However, it is advised to consult a doctor for a proper treatment for hyperlipidaemia and not consider canola oil as an alternative to modern medicine. 

5) What are the common side effects of canola oil? 

The use of canola oil may harm the heart and the liver due to the toxic mustard gas. Although present in small amounts, eruric acid may hinder normal growth. As canola oil is partially hydrogenated, it may cause arterial inflammation and calcification. Additionally, it can impair memory and may prolong bleeding time.2 


  1. Lin L, Allemekinders H, Dansby A, Campbell L, Durance-Tod S, Berger A, Jones PJ. Evidence of health benefits of canola oil. Nutr Rev. 2013 Jun;71(6):370-85. doi: 10.1111/nure.12033. Epub 2013 May 2. PMID: 23731447; PMCID: PMC3746113. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3746113/ 
  1. Gupta, S. (2022) What are the benefits of switching to canola oil?, PharmEasy Blog. Available at:https://pharmeasy.in/blog/what-are-the-benefits-of-switching-to-canola-oil/ (Accessed: November 16, 2022).  
  1. Saeed Ghobadi, Zahra Hassanzadeh-Rostami, Fatemeh Mohammadian, Morteza Zare & Shiva Faghih (2019) Effects of Canola Oil Consumption on Lipid Profile: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Clinical Trials,Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 38:2, 185-196, DOI: 10.1080/07315724.2018.1475270. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07315724.2018.1475270?journalCode=uacn20 
  1. Yahay M, Heidari Z, Allameh Z, Amani R. The effects of canola and olive oils consumption compared to sunflower oil, on lipid profile and hepatic steatosis in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. Lipids Health Dis. 2021 Jan 29;20(1):7. doi: 10.1186/s12944-021-01433-9. PMID: 33514384; PMCID: PMC7844999. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7844999/ 
  1. Atefi M, Pishdad GR, Faghih S. The effects of canola and olive oils on insulin resistance, inflammation and oxidative stress in women with type 2 diabetes: a randomized and controlled trial. J Diabetes Metab Disord. 2018 May 23;17(2):85-91. doi: 10.1007/s40200-018-0343-9. PMID: 30918840; PMCID: PMC6405399. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6405399/ 
  1. Liu X, Kris-Etherton PM, West SG, Lamarche B, Jenkins DJ, Fleming JA, McCrea CE, Pu S, Couture P, Connelly PW, Jones PJ. Effects of canola and high-oleic-acid canola oils on abdominal fat mass in individuals with central obesity. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2016 Nov;24(11):2261-2268. doi: 10.1002/oby.21584. PMID: 27804268; PMCID: PMC5119743. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5119743/ 
  1. Lauretti E, Praticò D. Effect of canola oil consumption on memory, synapse and neuropathology in the triple transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Sci Rep. 2017 Dec 7;7(1):17134. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-17373-3. PMID: 29215028; PMCID: PMC5719422. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5719422/ 
  1. Munuhe, N. (2022) Canola oil nutrition facts, health benefits, and side effects, BetterMe Blog. Available at: https://betterme.world/articles/canola-oil-calories/ (Accessed: November 21, 2022).  

Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

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