We use a lot of oil in my house. That sounds gross, I know. Let me explain. It’s really just that
one of our healthy-cooking rules is to not use much, if any, butter
. So when we need a
little grease—be it in a skillet or a muffin tin—we use oil.
Most of the time, it’s canola oil, which led us (and a lot
of EatingWell readers) to wonder: is it really all that
healthy to cook with? (Choose a cooking oil based on your needs and preferences with this Cooking Oil Guide
Here’s what I found:
• Canola oil is a good source of monounsaturated fats, the kind that, when used to replace
saturated fats like butter and cheese
, can help reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart
• If you are cooking with heart health in mind, consider canola: canola is the richest cooking-oil source of alpha-linolenic
acid, an omega-3 fat that has been linked to heart health. (Are you
getting enough omega-3s?
• Canola oil is also versatile: it has a neutral taste, light texture and a medium-high smoke point, so it works well for
sautéing and baking. (An oil’s smoke point is the temperature at which it begins to smoke. When it does, disease-causing
carcinogens and free radicals are released, so you never want to heat your oil to that point.)
Now, what about the canola naysayers?
For example, at EatingWell we get questions from people who’ve heard canola oil is toxic and can cause various diseases, from
emphysema to Mad Cow.
The truth is there are no sound scientific studies suggesting a link between canola oil and any disease.
We also hear concerns that canola oil is genetically engineered (GE).
Canola oil comes from canola seeds. They are a genetic variation of rapeseed that was developed in the 1960s using
traditional plant-breeding methods to make the rapeseed more palatable. Today, however, most canola (93 percent in the U.S.)
is GE. So, if that’s a concern for you, choose certified organic. (Here are 15 foods you don’t need to buy organic