Canola oil is a cooking oil derived from the plants that are part of the Brassicaceae family. It is a plant family where mustard and rapeseed, where canola is derived from, belong to. For a cooking oil to be called canola, it should have less than 2% erucic acid, and its meal must encompass a certain percentage of glucosinolates per gram. If not, it is not considered fit to be consumed.
Most canola oil is produced in Canada, that’s why the origin of the word canola is debated. Some believe that it stands for Canadian Oil, while others contest that it stands for Canadian Oil Low Acid. There are some who say that canola oil is not healthy, and it can cause ailments, including respiratory distress and blindness. Do you think canola oil is a healthy cooking oil or not? Read on to know more about canola oil.
Origins of Canola Oil
The name rapeseed came from the Latin word “rapum”, which means turnip. Turnip, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and mustard are all related to rapeseed, and they belong to the genus Brassica. Varieties of Brassica oilseed were some of the oldest plants that were cultivated by people. There’s a documentation of its use in India 4,000 years ago, and in Japan and China 2,000 years ago. In Northern Europe, it is used for oil lamps, which is documented in the 13th century.
Rapeseed oil has limited use until steam power was developed. Machinists discovered that rapeseed oil clung to water- and steam-washed metal surfaces better compared to other lubricants. During World War II, there was a high demand for this oil as a lubricant due to the rapidly increasing number of steam engines in merchant and naval ships. However, a shortage developed when the European and Asian sources of rapeseed oil were blocked by the war. With this, Canada started to expand its limited rapeseed production.
From 1956 to 1957, rapeseed oil extracts were first put on the market as food products. However, they suffered from some unacceptable characteristics, including a distinctive taste, a disagreeable greenish color, presence of chlorophyll, and a high concentration of erucic acid.
In the early 1970s, canola was bred from rapeseed cultivars of B. napus and B. rapa by Keith Downey and Baldur R. Stefanson at the University of Manitoba in Canada. Unlike rapeseed oil that has a high concentration of erucic acid, canola has a different nutritional profile and has much less erucic acid. It was originally a trademark of the Rapeseed Association of Canada, but today, it’s a generic term for edible varieties of rapeseed oil in Australia and North America.
In 1995, a genetically engineered rapeseed was first introduced to Canada, and it’s tolerant to the herbicide. In 1998, a genetically modified variety was developed, and it’s considered to be the most disease- and drought-resistant canola variety up until now. In the present time, canola oil is used worldwide as a cooking oil.
Health Benefits of Canola Oil
Canola oil is one of the best oils you can use for heart health. It has less saturated fats compared to any other oil that is commonly used in the United States. It has 7% saturated fat, which is lower compared to sunflower oil, that has 9%, corn oil that has 13%, and olive oil that has 14%. This means that canola oil can help in cutting down cholesterol levels.
Aside from that, canola oil is also very high in healthier unsaturated fats. Compared to any other oil, except flaxseed oil, it is higher in the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid or ALA. This is important to have in your diet because our bodies do not make or produce it. ALA, according to studies, can help in protecting the heart through its effects on cholesterol, inflammation, and blood pressure. Canola oil is also believed to contain some anti-oxidant properties.
Canola oil makers are allowed by the FDA to label their products with a qualified health claim that it has limited and not conclusive scientific evidence that canola oil may reduce the risk of heart disease.
How Canola Oil is Produced
Canola oil is produced at a processing facility. It is made by slightly heating and then crushing the seed. Almost all canola oils that are commercial are extracted using hexane solvent, which is recovered at the end of the process. After that, canola oil is refined using water precipitation and organic acid to remove gums and free fatty acids, filtered to remove color and then deodorized using steam distillation. It has an average density of 0.92 g/mL.
There are also cold-pressed and expeller-pressed canola oils that are produced on a more limited basis. Around 44% of a seed is oil, and the remainder as a canola meal is used for animal feed.
Canola Oil Cooking Use
Canola oil is used as a key ingredient in a lot of foods. When it earned its reputation as a healthy oil, it has created a high demand in markets all over the world. Overall, canola oil is the third-most widely consumed vegetable oil in the world, next to soybean and palm oil.
Since canola oil has a light flavor, smooth texture, and high smoke point, it is one of the most versatile cooking oils. You can use canola oil in a lot of dishes and cooking methods. This includes sautéing, stir-frying, grilling, and baking. Aside from that, you can also use it in salad dressings, sauces, and marinades. It is also used in coating pans for nonstick baking and as a substitute for solid fats in recipes like margarine and butter.
Aside from cooking, you can also use canola oil in non-food uses. Just like soybean, you can use it interchangeable with non-renewable petroleum-based oils in products, including candles, lipsticks, lubricants, newspaper inks, and biodiesel.
The Best Canola Oils You Can Buy
If you want to use canola oil for cooking, here are some of the best ones we can recommend:
This organic canola oil is a high-quality addition to your everyday cooking. You can use it from frying to sautéing. Aside from that, you can also blend it in salad dressings and sauces. It comes from expeller-pressed non-GMO rapeseeds, which are grown and processed without any pesticide or chemicals. This canola oil is a clean, wonderful cooking oil for everyday use. It has a low saturated fat content, a good balance of omega-3 and 6, and poly-unsaturated fat, which is considered to be the best oils for heart health.
This canola oil is free of GMOs, making you feel good about cooking and baking with it. The rapeseeds used in making this oil are grown without dangerous pesticides, offering a safe and healthy alternative to standard canola oil. It is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for proper brain development and a healthy heart.
This organic canola oil has a neutral taste and light texture, making it a match for a lot of dishes from stir-fries to salad dressings to baked goods. It has a high heat tolerance of up to 360°F, making it good for sautéing, as well. This canola oil is also rich in omega-3 ALA and omega-6. It is sodium-free and certified organic, kosher, and vegan.
This organic canola oil offers a clean label, which is a natural alternative for chefs and home cooks. It is a high heat organic, and non-GMO canola oil that provides monounsaturated fats, that is excellent and stable for high-temperature cooking, baking, and sautéing. This canola oil is naturally expeller-pressed without the use of any harmful chemicals.
This canola oil is cholesterol-free oil that contains 14 grams of total fat per serving. It is a great cooking oil for frying. Just do not leave it unattended while heating because it can burn if overheated. This canola oil will add versatility in your kitchen with its light taste and smooth texture.
This canola oil is certified organic and made using only the best seeds from the finest orchards and farms around the world. It is poured and packaged in eye-catching wine bottles, making it look classy. This canola oil is part of the award-winning Stonewall Kitchen family of gourmet foods.
This canola oil has light texture and flavor, allowing versatility in the kitchen. You can use this oil for all your cooking needs, including frying, baking, and as well as in a dressing or marinade. It has a light taste and is never greasy. It is also cholesterol-free food. It also does not contain any additives and preservatives, making it great to be used in any recipe that calls for vegetable or salad oil.
This organic canola oil is the perfect cooking companion for the delicious meals you are preparing and cooking in your kitchen. It has a neutral flavor and high heat tolerance that can complement any culinary creation. This canola oil is refined for a neutral taste. It is expeller pressed and rich in omega 3s. It is also great for high heat cooking up to 450°F. It is USDA organic certified, non-GMO Project Verified and certified kosher by the OU.
These are some of the best canola oils we can recommend that can help you with cooking and preparing a lot of meals. Now that you know that canola is a healthy type of cooking oil, you can start using it with all your frying and sautéing needs in the kitchen.