What is canola oil?
Canola or rapeseed oil is the oil obtained from the seeds of the Brassica Napus plant. The canola plant is a close relative of the turnip. For a long time, canola oil was classified as a technical oil, not a food. The reason was the presence of toxins (in particular, erucic acid). A component is dangerous for human health and with an unpleasant taste.
However, later in Canada, a plant characterized by a low content of these compounds was selected. In addition to improving the refining processes, a healthy oil was achieved. That is why it was known as Canadian oil in the first place.
Canola oil properties
In its purest form, rapeseed oil contains erucic acid and glucosinolates. The use of this acid is associated with the development of dangerous Keshan’s disease, characterized by fibrotic lesions of the heart. Glucosinolates are bitter substances that have an extremely negative effect on taste. That is why regular rapeseed oil should not be eaten.
The main disadvantage of rapeseed oil is that it undergoes chemical cleaning processes to clean impurities. Also, the canola plant is genetically modified more often. Even though modern canola oil is completely safe for human health and has a neutral taste, it belongs to highly processed products.
Is canola oil healthy or harmful?
The critical reason canola oil can be considered harmful or dangerous is the possible trans fat content. Remember that trans fats are modified molecules that appear in unsaturated (vegetable) oils during high-temperature heating. Studies show that the amount of trans fat is minimal in refined canola oil.
The good news: Modern refining and deodorization processes can significantly reduce the number of trans fatty acids in canola oil. Despite this, trans fats can appear in the cooking process, mainly due to the heating and cooling of the oil itself. It is important to note that these processes occur in all vegetable oils, except coconut oil.
Omega-3 content in rapeseed oil
Another worrying fact for followers of a healthy diet is the amount of omega-3 fatty acids contained in canola oil. Although, during the refining process, about 20% of the linoleic acid is lost, even the final product still has about 9-10% vegetable Omega-3s.
In summary, rapeseed oil is an oil high in amounts of Omega-3 compared to other vegetable oils. Although the ideal to reach the recommended dose of Omega-3 is to supplement the diet with foods of animal origin such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, and other blue sea fish.
Benefits of rapeseed oil
One of the benefits of rapeseed oil is its fatty acid profile: close to that of olive oil. In particular, it contains high content of omega-9 fatty acids and approximately 10% of vegetable omega-3s. Unlike sunflower oil, rapeseed does not alter the balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 in the diet. An imbalance in the concentration of fatty acids leads to metabolic disorders and an increase in the number of inflammatory processes.
Rapeseed oil contains only 7% saturated fatty acids, about half the amount of corn oil, olive oil, and soybean oil. Oleic fatty acid represents more than 60% of the composition of canola oil, a fatty acid with numerous health benefits, which is second only to olive oil².
Research suggests that oleic acid is as effective in lowering bad cholesterol as polyunsaturated fatty acids. Speaking of polyunsaturated acids, rapeseed oil has a ratio of omega-6 (linoleic acid) to omega-3 (alpha-linolenic acid) in an ideal 2: 1 ratio.
Can you fry in canola oil?
Studies affirm that when frying in canola oil, the amount of trans fat reaches 3.6%. However, similar processes will occur with any other vegetable oil³. This is why frying in canola oil is not recommended. And even less heat, cool and reheat the same oil.
- Canola oil is the oil extracted from the seeds of rapeseed, a relative of the turnip.
- Originally it was used mainly for technical purposes. Canola oil suitable for human consumption is safe for health.
- It cannot be said that canola oil is wrong; in fact, there are no studies to date that affirm that there are molecules in its composition that are harmful to humans.
- The design of canola oil is similar to that of olive oil and outperforms corn and sunflower in benefits. The main disadvantage of canola oil is the risk of generating trans fat when it is reheated.
- The ideal is to consume raw rapeseed oil, although you should avoid reusing it if you choose to fry.