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Q. How Healthy Is Canola Oil Really?

By Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D., March/April 2010

How Healthy is Canola Oil?

A. 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.

But canola often gets a bad rap. For example, 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). This is true—most canola (93 percent in the U.S.) is GE. If that’s a concern for you, choose certified organic.

EatingWell often uses canola oil in our recipes because it’s one of the healthiest oil choices. It’s 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 disease. Canola is the richest cooking-oil source of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fat that has been linked to heart health.

Canola 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.)

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COMMENTS POSTEDsort icon

Great Blog. I add this Blog to my bookmarks

Anonymous

04/28/2013 - 2:42am

certified organic food cannot be Genetically Modified. It is required to be non-GMO...

Anonymous

04/26/2013 - 8:39am

Wow! This is a great post and this is so true

Anonymous

04/25/2013 - 10:52am

I love to saute vegetables and I love Canola oil. Thanks to who ever created such a great product.
Bob Schuster

Anonymous

04/21/2013 - 10:43pm

One little-known source of trans fat is canola / rapeseed oil. The trans fat occurs as a result of processing, which takes place at high temperature. The raw seed begins with a high level of beneficial omega-3 oils, however these tend to oxidise during processing producing off, rancid odours. During deodorisation, some of the omega-3 fatty acids are converted to trans.

The proportion converted to trans is highly variable - in general, UK oils have low levels of trans, however Researchers at the University of Florida at Gainesville, found that liquid canola / rapeseed oils sold in the USA contained as much as 4.6 percent trans fat. Currently this trans fat content is not usually listed on labels and consumers have no way of knowing it is present.

Thanks to generous subsidies to EU growers, this is now one of the cheapest and most widespread vegetable oils. In general, if an oil is made from anything other than canola / rapeseed, this will be stated on the label. If an oil is simply described as "vegetable oil" - it is likely to be made from canola / rapeseed. If you want to be certain of the trans content of your brand of vegetable oil, you will have to write to the manufacturer and ask.

Canola is also a popular choice for hydrogenation - further raising the trans fat levels:

Anonymous

04/21/2013 - 10:09pm

"Choose organic" *is* a valid recommendation in the US for people who wish to avoid GMOs, as GMO crops are currently not certified as organic, regardless of the farming methods used.

Anonymous

04/21/2013 - 9:29pm

Organic does mean NOT GENETICALLY MODIFIED, to the first commenter whos has no idea what they are talking about. And organic alson means not processed with hexane, which I consider to be more of an issue than canola containing a TRACE amount of a NATURAL toxin, not a lab made one.

Anonymous

04/18/2013 - 5:33pm

This is kinda ridiculous. The says if you have a problem with the product being genetically modified, then choose certified organic. The label of organic is not even relevant to the genetically modified nature of the product. It just means that perticides aren't used (if it even means that, since I've heard that things labeled organic aren't always so, due to the FDA's regulations not really caring about health).

Anonymous

04/15/2013 - 11:28am

yes this oil is disgusting , i always used veg oil for 6 months to deep fry chickn and it was good, switched to canola and after a week every one said my chicken was greasy.. went back

Anonymous

04/11/2013 - 9:03pm

It's funny how silly and arrogant people can be in their response to this issue. It's a first world problem as far as I'm concerned, and anyone who says they're not a "cheap ass" is just silly. Some of us are doing our best to try to determine what is best and most reasonable within our budgetary means, so yes- I do take the cheap ass comment as offensive. That aside- canola oil is not from the rapeseed plant, it is from the canola plant and has a very different make up. To the hexane issue- that's a point and one that people need to weigh. But please understand there are a lot of "rumors" and "urban legends" regarding health on the internet. Please keep that in mind when you plan to get on your soap boxes.

Anonymous

04/07/2013 - 12:28pm

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