People, these days are always on the lookout for healthier options of cooking oil, as the consciousness of wellness increases. Canola oil is famed as a great choice of cooking oil, as it is endowed with dense nutrient value. It is extracted from the seeds of the canola plant and has been largely used in a spectrum of foods and other products. But many people have limited the usage of canola oil over concerns about its health effects and production methods. Then this article is for you, learn whether canola oil is best to use or avoid.
What Is Canola Oil?
Canola (Brassica napus L) is an oilseed plant produced through plant crossbreeding. This oil was developed by Scientists in Canada as an edible version of the rapeseed plant, which on its own contain harbors toxic elements called erucic acid and glucosinolate. It obtained its name Canola from Canada and ola mean oil. Though the plant looks very similar to the rapeseed plant, it comprises different nutrients and is considered safe for consumption. Canola crops are genetically modified (GMO) to enhance oil quality and increase plant tolerance to herbicides. The by-products canola meal is commonly used as animal feed and oil is also used as a fuel alternative to diesel and manufacture tires by combining with plasticizers.
There are several steps in the canola oil manufacturing process:
The seeds are separated and cleaned to remove dirt and impurities.
Seed Conditioning and Flaking:
In this process seeds are pre-heated to about 95F, then flaked by roller mills to split the cell wall of the seed.
The seed flakes are cooked by a cycle of steam-heated cookers and the heating process lasts for 15-20 minutes at 175-221 F
Then the cooked canola seed flakes are pressed in a series of screw presses, this process helps to remove 50-60% of the oil from the flakes, leaving the rest to be extracted by other methods.
The remaining seed flakes containing 20% oil are further broken down by a chemical called hexane.
Then the chemical hexane is stripped from the canola meal by heating at 203-239 F via steam exposure.
Processing The Oil:
The extracted oil is further refined by various methods such as steam distillation, exposure to phosphoric acid and filtration via acid-activated clays.
Additionally, canola oil is also made into margarine and shortening by hydrogenation, a process in which molecules of hydrogen are added into the oil to alter its chemical structure.
Canola oil is considered one of the healthiest oils owing to its low level of saturated fat. Apart from vitamins E, K, canola oil is not a good source of other nutrients, and it contains small amounts of trans fat, which is harmful to health.
According to the Agriculture’s Food Data, US canola oil contains the following:
Per tablespoon provides:
16% of the RDI of Vitamin E
9% of the RDI of vitamin K
Fatty acids per tablespoon:
14 grams (g) of total fat
1.03 g of total saturated fatty acids
8.86 g of total monounsaturated fatty acids
3.94 g of total polyunsaturated fatty acids
Some studies have revealed that canola oil is one of the healthiest oils, as it lowers disease-related factors and support health. Further, canola oil is considered the healthiest edible oil owing to its fatty acid composition and presence of other nutrients and low amount of saturated fat when compared with other vegetable oils.
While choosing different types of oil, three factors to keep in mind include its smoking point, type of fat and flavour.
Canola oil can be heated to a high temperature and at the same time, it retains a neutral taste, thus making it a favourite cooking oil. Also, it is widely considered to be a healthy oil as it’s low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated fat. Additionally monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are known to improve cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease.
The main drawback of canola oil is that it doesn’t come from a natural plant source, as it is crossbred, and genetically modified. However, this doesn’t necessarily make the oil an unhealthy choice, but some GMOs that are used can be harmful to people, including those with sensitivities. Also, there are some controversies about whether GMOs are safe for long-term usage. Studies are limited and there is more debate over whether GMOs are healthy or unhealthy.
Thus, it is essential to be aware of whether your foods contain GMOs or not and making wise choices with that knowledge is important.
Alternative Cooking Oil Options
More research is still needed to completely understand how canola oil impacts health. Many other oils confer incredible health benefits that are backed by scientific evidence. They are heat-stable and can swap canola oil for different cooking methods, such as sauteing.
Olive oil, laden with anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants helps to enhance cardiac and mental health.
Coconut oil is one of the best oils for high-heat cooking and may increase “good” HDL cholesterol and promote weight loss