The health benefits of canola oil include its ability to improve heart health, lower cholesterol levels, strengthen cell membranes, boost energy levels, reduce the risk of cancer, keep the brain functioning at a high level, and prevent the onset of diabetes. This oil also promotes skin and hair health.
What is Canola Oil?
Canola oil is a type of edible cooking oil that most commonly comes from varieties of the rape plant. It comes from certain varieties of mustard seed and is produced by genetic modification. This is also the reason why there is still some concern surrounding the use of this oil as it may be toxic. While studies on this are still ongoing, canola oil is used by many, and why not, because it is a storehouse of some amazing health benefits!
For this reason, canola oil is known in certain areas of the world as rapeseed oil and typically comes in two varieties, Rapeseed 00 and Double Zero Rapeseed. The name rapeseed (canola) is derived from the Latin root rapum, which means turnip. Turnips, cabbage, rutabaga, and other similar plants are closely related to the two common cultivars of this oil, which are most widely produced and used today. It has been used as a fuel for thousands of years by various cultures throughout history.
Although it is frequently thought of as a Canadian crop, the United States has also become a huge producer and consumer of the crop. The annual production of rapeseed oil/canola oil from around the world is approximately 58 million tons.
Canola Oil Nutrition
Canola oil is a storehouse of nutrients including various vitamin such as vitamin E and K, and lipids including total saturated fatty acids, monosaturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and total trans. Canola oil contains zero cholesterol and is a good source of energy, at 884 kcal/100grams.
Canola Oil vs Vegetable Oil
The main point of difference between canola oil and vegetable oil is the type of plants that they are derived from. While canola is derived from the rapeseed plant that is related to mustard and cabbage family, vegetable oil is much similar to soybean oil, in the sense that it may contain soybean, safflower, or corn oil.
Canola Oil Smoke Point
Canola oil has a medium-high smoke point of 400 degrees F, which makes it perfect for cooking, baking, and stir-frying. This oil can also be used for drizzling over food where the flavor is required.
Health Benefits of Canola Oil
Health benefits of canola oil include:
Canola oils contain both, omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids in the ratio of 2:1. This is one of the healthiest ratios of any vegetable oil, even healthier than olive oil. Sterols, which have powerful cholesterol-lowering properties, are also found in rich supply in canola oil. The phytosterols that are found in this oil can actually reduce the creation and absorption of cholesterol that you may get from other foods. Therefore, not only does canola oil contain no cholesterol, it can actually reduce your cholesterol levels by 10-15%.
Boosts Heart Health
Omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids are present in canola oil, and while those are often considered “good” and “bad” cholesterol, respectively. The body needs both, even though one is considered “unhealthy”. The ratio is 2:1, which is one of the healthiest ratios of any vegetable oil, even healthier than olive oil. Sterols are also found in rich supply in canola oil. The phytosterols that are found in canola oil can actually reduce the creation and absorption of cholesterol that you may get from other foods. Therefore, not only does canola oil contain no cholesterol, it can actually reduce your cholesterol levels by 10-15%.
Skin Care & Treats Acne
Canola oil, like many vegetable oils, is rich in vitamin E, which is an essential vitamin for the body for various reasons. Vitamin E is very effective as an antioxidant and is able to protect the skin from the damaging effects of free radicals. This can keep your skin supple and smooth, increase the healing rate of injuries, reduce the appearance of blemishes and acne marks, and slow down the appearance of wrinkles.
Free radicals, which vitamin E can neutralize, are some of the most dangerous components in the body that affect the appearance of the skin, so canola oil is a logical choice if you want to look young and beautiful well into your old age.
Protects Cell Membranes
Vitamin E is also a lipid-soluble antioxidant, meaning that it can help protect the integrity of cell membranes throughout the body. Mucus membranes are important for protecting our body from foreign substances and form an important part of our immune system.
Increases Energy Levels
The low amount of cholesterol and the high amount of important antioxidants can help the body’s metabolism move at a normal rate. Your body doesn’t become sluggish and your energy isn’t sapped by slow circulation or an overstressed cardiovascular system.
Lowers Cancer Risk
Antioxidants, like vitamin E, are very effective against cancer. Free radicals cause healthy cells to mutate into cancerous cells, so having high levels of vitamin E in your diet, such as the content found in canola oil, can greatly reduce your chances of contracting cancer, and it is also a wonderful way to slow down the progression once cancer has presented itself.
Improves Brain Function
Cognitive functions decline as we get older, manifested in conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The antioxidants that combat free radicals also prevent damage to the brain, which can shut down neural connections and lead to these dangerous conditions.
Monounsaturated fats not only help to prevent heart disease, but they can also help to maintain glucose levels in the blood. This means that the chances of developing diabetes are far smaller since glucose levels are kept in balance. The metabolism of the body keeps glucose and insulin levels in line, so even if you do suffer from diabetes, you are less likely to suffer from spikes and drops in blood sugar that are so dangerous to people with diabetes.
Improves Glycemic control
This oil prevents aching joints and stiffening of bones as a result of old age and wear-and-tear. It is also good for treatment of arthritis, and other inflammations caused by respiratory or digestive disorders.
Canola oil is famous for its use as a hair moisturizer, as it helps to prevent dandruff, gives shine to your hair, and promotes hair growth.
Uses of Canola Oil
There are many uses for canola oil, just like with soybean oil.
- It is a functional fuel that is a good replacement for non-renewable resources, such as the petroleum oils used in lipsticks, candles, biofuels, lubricants, and inks.
- It can also be used as a vegetable oil for cooking, canola oil can provide users with many health benefits that other oils simply cannot provide.
There have been plenty of critiques of canola oil since the processing can often remove the beneficial aspects of canola oil. Let’s discuss them in detail below.
- Toxin levels: Recently there have been claims that canola oil contains a high level of toxins because a large part of canola oil is extracted from genetically modified plants. It’s best to use canola oil which has been labeled certified organic or non-GMO. Cold-pressed canola oil is the safest type to use for cooking.
- Processing concerns: There have been plenty of critiques of canola oil since the processing can often remove its beneficial aspects. Also, there has been some evidence that the omega-3 fatty acid content is lowered during this processing.
- Erucic acid content: Finally, the erucic acid that is thought to be in low levels in most canola oil may be higher than originally expected. Erucic acid is an omega-9 fatty acid which can cause cardiac issues.
Basically, speak to your medical professional before switching anything in your diet, and be sure that the benefits of canola oil are what you are seeking in your healthy eating choices.