Myths and Facts: Canola Oil

Canola oil is considered one of the healthiest cooking oils available. With low saturated fat and lots of the healthy unsaturated fats, canola oil can help reduce the risk of heart disease when eaten in moderation and as part of a healthy diet.

Canola Oil Myth #1: Canola is the Same as Rapeseed Oil

Canola oil is actually derived from a cross-bred plant, canola, with one of its parents being the rapeseed. The plant was developed in the 1970s to provide a healthy and safe cooking oil. Canola oil is also known by the name LEAR, or low eruric acid rapeseed. The name canola is derived from “Canadian oil, low acid.”

Canola Oil Myth #2: Canola Oil Has Unsafe Levels of Acid

While rapeseed oil does have levels of erucic acid that are unsafe for human consumption, canola oil is well within the recommended levels as approved by the FDA, and does not pose any health risks associated with its acid content. Experiments in lab animals have shown that rapeseed oil causes adverse health affects, including heart damage, however, another prominent Indian study has refuted much of the previous research.

Canola Oil Myth #3: Canola Oil Is an Unhealthy Oil

All oils contain the same amount of fat and calories. However, canola oil’s low saturated fat levels are among the lowest of any of the other cooking oils commonly used in America, at just 7% compared to corn oil’s 13% and olive oil’s 15% saturated fat levels. Canola oil is also high in the healthier unsaturated fats such as linolic acid, omega-6 fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids. It’s omega-3 and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) content is actually higher than any other of the commonly used cooking oils. These are especially important because the body needs them, however, it does not produce them naturally.

Canola Oil Myth #4: Canola Oil Is Bad for You

It has been shown through studies that the ALA found in canola oil has a positive effect on cholesterol, blood pressure and inflammation. The FDA has even allowed for manufacturers of canola oil to label their products with a health claim stating its effectiveness in reducing heart disease risk. While the oil is not bad for you on its own, it is important with any oil that you eat it in moderation.

Using canola oil in place of other fats in your diet is one way that you can eat a healthier diet and meet the dietary recommendations for saturated and unsaturated fats. By switching to canola oils, many people reduce their saturated fat intake by nearly 10%, while increasing their ALA intake by 73%. When cooking at a high temperature for deep frying or when you need a low-flavor oil, canola oil is a great choice.


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