Canola oil is a vegetable-based oil used in various foods and products. It may provide health benefits, but some people have concerns about its properties and production methods.
There are many oils that people can use for cooking, and canola oil is a popular option. Nevertheless, misconceptions about the benefits and risks of canola oil exist. Like other oils, canola oil contains many different fats and may provide some health benefits.
This article looks at canola oil and its manufacturing process. It also outlines the nutritional information, health benefits, and potential risks and explores some alternative oils.
Canola, or Brassica napus, is one of the most important oilseed crops globally. The name “canola” comes from the words “Canada” and “ola,” meaning oil.
Scientists in Canada created canola through crossbreeding an edible type of rapeseed plant. By crossbreeding, they removed toxic compounds called glucosinolates and erucic acid.
The canola plant looks identical to the rapeseed plant, but it contains different nutrients, and its oil is safe for consumption.
Since scientists created the canola plant, breeders have developed different varieties with improved seed quality. This has led to a massive increase in canola oil manufacturing.
Most canola crops are genetically modified (GM), which improves the quality of the oil and increases the plant’s tolerance to herbicides. GM canola makes up
According to the Canola Council of Canada, the process for turning canola seed into oil is similar to that of other oilseeds.
The process begins with cleaning the canola seeds thoroughly to remove stems, pods, weed seeds, and other materials that are present from harvesting.
Heating and flaking
Machines then heat and flake the canola seeds before extracting the oil. They raise the temperature slightly in grain dryers to prevent the seed from shattering. They then pass the seeds through rollers to rupture the cell walls and flake the seeds to the ideal thickness.
The seeds progress through a series of stacked cookers or heating drums. This process further ruptures the cells and obtains the correct viscosity and moisture level that the upcoming steps require. Cooking also prevents the product from breaking down, which could affect its quality.
The heated flakes then progress through a series of expellers or pressers for gentle pressing. This process removes most of the oil and compresses the remaining seed into a solid cake.
An extractor then removes the remaining oil from the pressed cakes with a solvent called hexane. The machine then separates the oil and solids and recycles the hexane for further use.
Refining and processing
Processes refine the crude oil to improve its flavor, color, and shelf-life. Water and organic acids remove gums, fatty acids, fine meal particles, and lipids.
A process called bleaching removes color pigments, though it does not use bleach. The process involves passing the oil through a clay filter, and steam distills the oil to remove unpleasant odors.
The manufacturers then package and distribute the canola as cooking oil or process it into a range of consumer products.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s
- 124 calories
- 16% of the
recommended daily intake (RDI)of vitamin E
- 9% of the RDI of vitamin K
Fatty acids per tablespoon:
- 14 grams (g) of total fat
- 1.03 g of total saturated fatty acids
- 8.86 g of total monounsaturated fatty acids
- 3.94 g of total polyunsaturated fatty acids
Canola oil does not contain gluten or soy.
Canola oil is a rich source of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). These PUFAs include
Many people, especially when following plant-based diets,
However, it is worth noting that the human body converts ALA to DHA and EPA at a
The heating process that takes place during the manufacture of canola oil, as well as cooking methods such as frying, negatively affect ALA and other polyunsaturated fats.
Canola oil also contains trans fats. According to the
A 2016 book claims that many dietitians believe that canola oil should be considered the healthiest edible oil due to its fatty acid composition and other nutrient properties. It also contains a low amount of saturated fat compared with other vegetable oils.
One 2011 study concludes that people who eat more canola oil than other oils rich in saturated fatty acids may experience lipid-lowering effects. The researchers also suggest that canola oil could be considered heart-healthy.
Some research suggests that canola oil may harm health.
Although marketers often promote canola oil as a heart-healthy fat and alternative to other oils, some studies regard it as potentially harmful.
This study contradicts
It is unclear whether canola oil is harmful or beneficial to heart health, so more research is necessary.
Many animal studies have linked canola oil to oxidative stress and increased inflammation.
In a 2020 study involving a large yellow croaker fish, the researchers conclude that a diet with more than 6% dietary rapeseed oil may cause an inflammatory response.
Inflammatory and immune cells are
Before researchers can confirm whether canola oil is harmful or healthy, they need to conduct further studies.
In the meantime, people can choose alternative oils for cooking, including the following:
- Olive oil: This is
rich in anti-inflammatory propertiesand antioxidants, which may help prevent heart disease and cognitive issues.
- Avocado oil: This
contains the antioxidantspolyphenols and carotenoids, which promote heart health.
- Coconut oil: This
may helpincrease high-density lipoprotein, or “good,” cholesterol. However, coconut oil also contains high amounts of saturated fats.
Scientists in Canada developed canola oil by crossbreeding rapeseed to remove toxins. Manufacturers heat, press, and use solvent extraction to obtain the final product.
Canola oil is a good source of vitamins E and K and contains a variety of fatty acids, including omega-3 and -6 fatty acids.
According to some studies, canola oil may have health benefits, with some industry-supported studies claiming that it is the healthiest oil available.
Conversely, canola oil may also pose certain health risks, including those related to heart health, cognition, and inflammation.
People can choose alternatives to canola oil, such as olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil.