Canola is actually a cultivar of rapeseed plant, which is a member of the mustard family. The plant was originally developed by cross breeding the rapeseed plant, mainly to produce edible oil from its seeds. This is because, the oil obtained from the rapeseed oil is found to contain erucic acid, which in high levels is found to be toxic to humans. This is the reason why the rapeseed oil, which has been used in many parts of the world, mainly in India, China and Japan was declared unfit for human consumption. In the subsequent period, canola plant was developed by cross breeding the rapeseed plant. Canola oil is light yellow in color and has neutral taste. In general, canola seeds are pressed either by traditional cold pressing method or in large scale, by hexane extraction method. Cold pressed oil has its color, taste, and odor is much more pronounced than those of refined oils.
Nutrition Facts of Canola Oil:
Canola oil has been found to contain some essential fatty acids, which can have beneficial effects on the heart and cardiovascular system. About 218 g of canola oil contains 16 g of saturated fats, 61.2 g of polyunsaturated fats, 137. 9 g of monounsaturated fats and 0.9 g of trans fats. The same amount of canola oil can provide about 1927 calories. Apart from these, omega-3 essential fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids are other important canola oil nutrients. Canola oil has a high smoking point of 450 degreed F.
Much of the known benefits of canola oil can be attributed to the presence of high levels of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Unsaturated fatty acids are known for their beneficial effects on human heart. These fatty acids are known to reduce the risk for heart and cardiovascular diseases. Again, canola oil can provide significant amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which may increase the level of good HDL cholesterol in the body. These essential oils may also improve immune functions and promote brain health. Canola oil does contain a small quantity of saturated fats, which is much lower than what is found in many other cooking oils.
Health Benefits of Canola Oil:
- Canola oil has distinct health benefits than many other vegetable edible oils. It is fast emerging as healthiest oils in tandem with olive oil. distinct flavor and unlike many other oils which are derived from nuts and seeds, olive oil is obtained from fruits and hence contains large amounts of plant derived anti-oxidants, phyto-sterols and vitamins.
- Like olive oil, it is very low in saturated fats. It contains linoleic (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) essential fatty acids at 2:1 making it as one of the healthiest cooking oils at a ratio even better than olive oil.
- It has highest levels of plant sterols, especially β-sitosterol and campesterols. These phytoesterols helps to lower cholesterol levels and so reduce the risk of heart diseases.
- Canola oil is high in calories. However, its high calorie content comes from better fats. It is especially rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) like oleic acid (18:1) which constitutes about 61% of total fats that help to lower LDL or "bad cholesterol" and increase HDL or "good cholesterol" in the blood.
- The oil contains valuable amounts of anti-oxidant vitamin E, particularly gamma-tocopherol. 100 g fresh oil has 27.34 mcg of a-tocopherol and 17.46 mcg of alpha-tocopherol. Vitamin E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant, require for maintaining the integrity of cell membrane of mucus membranes and skin by protecting it from harmful oxygen free radicals.
- Canola oil has highest smoke point oil and it is also an ideal choice for deep frying because it can be heated to a higher temperature (smoke point -450 °F). This results in lower oil retention in the fried foods.
Practical Benefits of Canola Oil:
The average consumer might also be delighted to hear that canola oil benefits also extend to practical matters, like pricing and shelf life. Here is a list of reasons why the oil is versatile enough for various kitchen uses.
- Neutral taste – The oil’s neutral taste can be mixed with other spices and ingredients. The oil is good for making salad dressings, marinades, and sauces.
- Affordable Price – Any local grocery offers a bottle for a low price that will not minimize your funds.
- High Heat Tolerance – Canola oil can be heated in high temperature, which makes it suitable for frying food. However, if the temperature is too high it might cause the Omega 3 fatty acid to turn into trans fat, which is bad for the body.
- Longer Shelf Life – Its low cost also allows the buyer to store the oil for a long time.
- Light and Smooth Texture – The oil’s texture makes it an ideal basic ingredient for marinades and sauces.