Canola Oil vs. Vegetable Oil: Which Is the Healthier Cooking Option?

Medically Reviewed on 8/12/2022
Canola Oil vs. Vegetable Oil: Which Is the Healthier Cooking Option
Although they may seem interchangeable, canola oil and vegetable oil are actually quite different in terms of nutritional value

Canola oil and vegetable oil are some of the most common cooking oils. Although they may seem interchangeable, they are actually quite different in terms of nutritional value.

In general, canola oil is the healthier cooking option due to its higher concentration of monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats and lower concentration of saturated fats.

Canola oil also offers additional health benefits as a rich source of vitamins K and E and other nutrients that can help lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar.

What is canola oil?

Canola oil is made from the seeds of the canola plant (rapeseed), which is a yellow plant of the mustard/cabbage family. In other words, canola oil is a type of vegetable oil.

  • Canola oil contains omega-3 fatty acids that are beneficial to your heart and is lower in saturated fat than vegetable oil.
  • Canola oil is odorless and neutral, with a light texture, so it does not interfere with the flavor of other foods and can be used in a variety of dishes.
  • Canola oil is a stable oil that has a high smoke point of 400 F, making it great for stir-frying, deep-frying, searing, sautéing, and baking. Because of its high smoke point, the oil will not smoke or break down when used at high temperatures. However, it is best to use it at medium heat to prevent the release of any harmful chemicals from the oil.

What is vegetable oil?

Vegetable oil is made from one or more plants, such as nuts, seeds, fruits, and cereals, and is usually a blend of other oils such as soybean oil, palm oil, cottonseed oil, or sunflower seed oil. 

  • Vegetable oil can help boost your metabolism and lower your risk of certain cancers.
  • Vegetable oil also has a neutral flavor and a high smoke point of 450 F, which is higher than that of canola oil, making it a go-to oil for deep-frying. 

How to select a healthy cooking oil

Incorporating healthy fats into your diet can have a positive effect on your mood, skin, hormones, and general health. However, with so many options available, from butter to flaxseed oil, deciding on the best cooking oil may be difficult. 

When choosing cooking oil, it is important to look for one that is low in unhealthy fats like saturated and trans fats and high in healthy fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Factors to consider when choosing a cooking oil also include the following:


  • When oil is exposed to heat, oxygen, or light, it undergoes oxidation, which results in the production of potentially harmful free radicals. 
  • Free radicals are dangerous molecules that have been linked to a variety of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, inflammatory joint disease, and chronic digestive problems.
  • Smoke point refers to the temperature at which oil begins to oxidize, losing its integrity and emitting free radicals. The higher the smoking point, the better the oil for use in high temperatures.

Fat stability

  • When it comes to chemical structure, monounsaturated fats contain one double bond, polyunsaturated fats have two or more bonds, and saturated fats have a single bond.
  • Fats and oils have different proportions of fatty acids, with animal fats containing more saturated fatty acids and plant-based oils containing more unsaturated fatty acids. Hence, saturated fats such as butter stay solid at room temperature, while unsaturated fats such as olive oil stay liquid at room temperature. 
  • Because polyunsaturated fats contain many double bonds, they are more easily destroyed when exposed to higher temperatures during cooking.
  • Although polyunsaturated fatty acids have several health advantages, saturated and monounsaturated fats are superior for high-heat cooking due to their more stable structure. 


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What are other healthy cooking oils?

Choosing the best cooking oil depends on your preferences and cooking style. Here are healthy plant-based options to choose from:

Virgin coconut oil

Virgin coconut oil has a fatty acid composition of 90% saturated fatty acids, the majority of which is lauric acid. Lauric acid has been shown to reduce the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Coconut oil also contains medium-chain triglycerides, which may enhance metabolism and promote satiety, both of which can aid with weight management.

Avocado oil

Avocado oil is high in oleic acid, a healthy monounsaturated fatty acid. Heart-healthy oleic acid has been found to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The high monounsaturated fatty acid to saturated fatty acid ratio makes it ideal for high-heat cooking, such as roasting and frying veggies.

Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

EVOO is high in oleic acid and contains monounsaturated fatty acids, which are good for the heart because they help lower triglyceride levels. EVOO also contains antioxidants that can protect blood vessel health. 

Grass-fed butter 

Butter prepared from grass-fed cattle is high in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has been shown to have significant health advantages. CLA may have anti-cancer effects, inhibiting the growth of malignant tumors in vivo and in vitro. CLA has also been shown to improve immunity and inflammation. Studies have reported that CLA can lower levels of proteins implicated in the inflammatory process, particularly in male athletes.

Butter is also abundant in a short-chain fatty acid called butyrate, which is also generated by the good bacteria in our stomachs and used as an energy source for intestinal cells. Butyrate promotes digestive health and may reduce irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. Additionally, research suggests that butyrate may have anti-inflammatory properties in people with Crohn's disease.

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Medically Reviewed on 8/12/2022
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