Canola oil: what is it and what is it used for?

This vegetable oil is used both in the kitchen and for industrial purposes

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By Alex

Canola oil comes from the seeds of the canola plant, one of the most common crops in Canada. This vegetable oil is used for food consumption mainly in Canada and the United States. Let’s find out how it is obtained and used and understand more about some old controversies surrounding its food use.

What is canola oil why it’s different from rapeseed oil

Canola is a herbaceous plant characterized by deep yellow flowers. The vegetable oil extracted from its seeds and used mainly to produce biofuels and lubricants, but also for food uses, is know as canola oil.

Canola oil is made from a variety of genetically modified rapeseed and – unlike rapeseed oil – has a reduced amount of erucic acid.

Used mainly in the United States and Canada, it is much less widely used and known in Europe.

Cold-pressed and possibly organically sourced oil is recommended for food consumption. This is the only way to ensure the health benefits associated with the oil’s interesting nutritional composition while avoiding its potential contraindications. This oil does indeed present potentially beneficial health effects, but some nutritional doubts still remain.

Canola oil is one of the best sources for biodiesel, thanks to its high oil content.

Non-food uses of canola oil also include cosmetics, especially for hair beauty.

Where does canola oil come from? How is it obtained?

Canola is actually an acronym for “CANadian Oil Low Acid”, or ‘Canadian low acid oil’. It was in fact invented around the 1970s by a group of Canadian researchers using a particular variety of canola.

This resulted in a vegetable oil with reduced concentrations of erucic acid to be used for human food uses.

Canola oil

By subjecting a particular variety of canola, Canadian Brassica, to chemical refining and stabilization processes, researchers have thus obtained a refined vegetable oil with low acid content.

Canola oil has has a tendentially amber color in the raw state and tends to take on much lighter shades after rectification.

Cold-pressed canola oil

Cold pressing is a useful process for maximizing the yield of this product as an alternative to traditional extraction using solvents.

It also constitutes a viable way to overcome the problems associated with the refining and stabilization process that make the oil a potentially risky product for health.

Canola oil fatty acid profile

About 100 grams of this product contains 61 grams of monounsaturated fatty acids.

Canola oil: low in erucic acid

The risks associated with the use of rapeseed oil appear to be due to the presence of erucic acid. According to some studies, this would be a cardiotoxic lipid substance capable of damaging the growth process and organs such as the heart and liver.

The percentage of this acid present in rapeseed oil generally ranges from 35 to 50 percent. Canola oil, on the contrary, has only 2%, a considerably lower concentration.

That’s why recently several these vegetable oils, including canola oil, have been rehabilitated, as they are able to reduce the risk of heart disease. Even people with diabetes could benefit from using this oil as a condiment.

However, the benefits potentially associated with the consumption of this oil could be dwarfed by the intensive refining and stabilization process it undergoes. By reaching very high temperatures, some beneficial components are transformed into elements that are harmful to our health. The cold-pressing method, on the other hand, would provide a solution against this drawback.

The most recent scientific studies seem to have absolved canola oil of its alleged negative effects on health. Due to the presence of substances such as Omega-3 fatty acids, tocopherol and unsaturated fats, it would seem to be a beneficial substance overall.

Canola oil and cholesterol

The abundant amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids, of the Omega-3 and Omega-6 type, makes this oil a potential ally for reducing triglycerides and blood cholesterol levels. As we mentioned before, the potential problem in food consumption is mainly attributable to the product’s refining and stabilization processes.

Canola oil

Canola oil: properties and nutritional characteristics

From a nutritional point of view, this vegetable oil has a good lipid component. It contains both oleic acid (Omega 9), such as extra virgin olive oil, and Omega 6 linoleic acid and Omega 3 alpha-linoleic acid, fatty acids that are very useful for our health.

It also has a good supply of vitamins, especially vitamins of groups E and K, together with important antioxidant substances such as phytosterols and tocopherols.

Furthermore, it is rich in canolol, a phenolic compound with important antioxidant properties, beneficial for the health of the organism.

Canola oil: what it is used for

This oil is used in cooking, both as a table oil for seasoning and for frying food. For industrial purposes it is used in the production of margarine.

Canola oil for frying

Canola oil can be used for frying due to its high smoke point.  However, it is better to make moderate use of it and not daily: of course, there are all the health drawbacks to all fried foods.

Canola oil smoke point

Canola oil has a smoke point between 400 and 475 degrees Fahrenheit. It is one of the highest smoke points available, together with refined olive oil and refined avocado oil.

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Canola oil as a condiment

This vegetable oil is also appreciated as a condiment, due to its neutral taste and light texture. A spray version of the oil for culinary uses can also be found on the market.

Canola oil

Canola oil for hair

This product is used for cosmetic purposes, too. In particular, it appears to be a useful product for the treatment of frizzy hair. Due to its high concentration of unsaturated fats, it is an excellent aid in keeping hair strong and healthy.

It can also be used as a carrier oil for massage and aromatherapy.

Canola oil biofuel

Other possible non-food uses include its use as an automotive fuel. In particular, it is used as biofuel for diesel engines. A greener alternative to traditional diesel!

Canola oil price

Generally speaking, canola oil is less expensive than olive oil and other vegetable oils used as condiments. Prices, however, may vary significantly depending on your location and may not as competitive as they are in North America.

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