Contrary to popular belief, canola oil is not bad for you. Misconceptions about canola oil may be rooted in the fact that the canola plant is a hybrid variety of the rapeseed plant. Rapeseed oil is high in erucic acid and can be toxic when consumed in large amounts.
However, most concerns regarding canola oil are unfounded. Not only is canola oil very low in erucic acid, but it’s also low in saturated fat and high in unsaturated fat. The FDA also recognizes canola oil as safe for human consumption, including for infant use.
What are the health benefits of canola oil?
Because canola oil is low in unhealthy fat and high in healthy fat (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats), it is a safe and heart-healthy choice for cooking use.
One of the benefits of canola oil is that it has a good ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 (alpha-linolenic) fatty acids. One tablespoon of canola oil gives you 1,279 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent various diseases including:
- Heart diseases
- Alzheimer's disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Age-related macular degeneration
Canola oil may also be a good addition to your diet to reduce inflammation. Inflammation plays a key role in conditions such as high cholesterol level, heart disease, and obesity. Including canola oil in your diet can help you manage diabetes since the oil helps lower your glycemic load, which is a parameter used to describe aspects of a particular food that can influence blood glucose.
Is commercially processed canola oil harmful?
Some people feel that cold-pressed or virgin oils are better than commercially processed or refined oils. While cold-pressed oils are extracted by crushing the canola seeds slowly, refined oils are typically made by heating and using chemical solvents. However, it hasn’t yet been proven whether cold-pressed oils are better than refined oils.
Whether cold-pressed or refined, it’s best to include a variety of different oils when cooking and avoid using butter or other unhealthy fats. For example, olive oil can be used to add flavor, and soybean oil can be used for cooking. Whatever oil you use, make sure not to heat the oil at too high a temperature, as this can destroy the fatty acids and compromise the health benefits of certain oils.
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Ask the Expert: Concerns about canola oil. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2015/04/13/ask-the-expert-concerns-about-canola-oil/
Lin L, Allemekinders H, Dansby A, et al. Evidence of health benefits of canola oil. Nutr Rev. 2013 Jun;71(6):370-385.
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