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What Are The Benefits Of Switching To Canola Oil?

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Introduction

While the debate continues around fats, their types and how much of it should be included in our diets, canola oil is emerging as one of the top healthy oils lately. Why are so many health-conscious people swearing by it? And could you make the change yourself? 

This oil comes with several health benefits over other cooking oils and here we’ll explore everything from the canola plant itself to canola oil nutritional values. But first, what is canola oil?

What is Canola Oil?

Canola oil originates from a genetically modified version of the rapeseed plant. Rapeseed has had many uses historically. Its use continues in modern times including as animal feed, for the production of vegetable oil and the production of biodiesel.

In natural form, rapeseed contains high levels of erucic acid which is toxic to humans and also lowers the nutritional value (when used as animal feed). Several human-safe breeds of this plant have been bred, with much lower levels of erucic acid (as low as 2%). The canola plant is one of these specific breeds that was made for human and animal consumption and is similar to most other rapeseed plants on the outside. Canola oil is made from crushed/pressed canola seeds.

Canola Oil Nutrition

Canola seed oil is made up primarily of unsaturated fats, with no traces of cholesterol. This low level of saturated fats is why canola oil is comparatively healthier than other cooking oils.

Saturated Fats7.4 g
Trans fats0.4 g
Polyunsaturated Fats (Omega-6)20 g
Polyunsaturated Fats (Omega-3)8 g
Monounsaturated Fats (Oleic acid)63.3 g

Additionally, canola oil contains vitamin E and K and does not have any other vitamins or minerals.

Health Benefits Of Using Oil from Canola Seed

Canola oil is made from healthy fats with a very low content of saturated fats. This may be especially beneficial for people with heart issues or those who want to avoid heart problems.

The polyunsaturated fat in canola seed oil is vital for the production of DHA and EPA in our bodies. DHA and EPA are required for the brain and heart to keep these organs healthy. The same compounds are also involved in lowering your risk of type II diabetes.

The absence of cholesterol in this oil is another reason why it is considered a healthy choice, especially for those who might be overweight or suffering from cardiovascular conditions. Some studies note that people had up to 16% lower bad cholesterol (LDL) when participants switched to canola oil from a high-saturated fats diet.

Other studies indicate that in people who made the switch, it helped to improve blood sugar control, reduce abdominal fat and also decrease blood pressure. 

A final benefit comes for those who maintain plant-based diets. Canola oil can be a great source of fatty acids without needing to eat meat.

Cooking Benefits of Using Oil From The Canola Plant

Canola oil is high-processed and hence ends up with a neutral flavour, making it less likely to interfere with your cooking. If you’re afraid to switch oils because you’re worried it may change the taste of your food, don’t worry. This oil is versatile and can be used in most of your regular dishes.

While many organizations suggest using it for baking and/or salad dressings, there are many healthier oils (healthier meaning they have more nutrients) out there. Instead, canola oil can be a great replacement for frying, sauteing and deep frying due to its bland flavour.

Speaking of frying, this oil also has a high smoke point, which makes it even more attractive to chefs at home. This higher smoking point means less trans fats are produced while cooking and that you needn’t worry about smoke or burning smells even with high-temperature flames.

Downsides of Canola Oil

A lot of the positive, “healthy” image of canola oil comes from biased sources (sponsored by the canola oil producers). So while this oil may in fact be healthy, there is a lack of in-depth studies into its long term real-world health benefits. There are a few negative studies that associate daily canola oil usage with memory issues (in mice). Another downside is the high ratio of omega-6 acids to omega-3, which is typically not considered healthy. Lastly, a few smaller studies indicate that canola oil may harm heart health rather than improve it. Neither side has proven the true benefits or risks with this oil. In moderation and without using it excessively, most data points to some health benefits.

Should You Make The Switch

Canola oil is not a replacement for all oils. Some people prefer olive oil for its flavour while others like almond oil for the smell and taste. Canola oil is almost without odour but it may still have a place in your kitchen if you need something natural that will not affect the overall taste of your dish. Maybe try to add it to your diet if you need to lower your cholesterol but always inform your doctor of such dietary changes. If you notice healthy changes in your cholesterol, blood pressure or other factors, feel free to make canola oil a permanent part of your diet. 

Keep in mind that your existing oil may have a taste that you are accustomed to. So while canola oil does not have much of a flavour you may still experience a few changes in the taste of your food, due to the absence of your usual oil.

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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