What Is Canola Oil: Is Canola Oil Good Or Bad?

What Is Canola Oil

Around the 1970s, a group of Canadian researchers thought of selecting a variety of rapeseed (Brassica napus) with a low erucic acid content to obtain an oil that could be used in human nutrition. In this article, we will give a complete guide about what is canola oil?

Thus they isolated the Canadian Brassica, a variety of rapeseed that. Subjected to a laborious chemical refining process, produced an oil with a shallow erucic acid content equal to 2%. Thus, the oil was called canola oil, short for Canadian Oil Low Acid, or Canadian oil with low acid content.

Where is canola oil found?

Since then, due to this substance’s low cost, at least in the productions on an industrial scale. Canola oil has known a rapid commercial diffusion. Today we find it in snacks, sweets, gums, and in general, in packaged food products. Often hidden in labels under the generic name of “vegetable oil” or “other oils.”In North America and some continental European countries. But it remains a product of rare use. After the interest of public opinion and the mass media has polarized. Around the now-infamous palm oil in recent years later. The attention has also shifted towards the healthiness of other vegetable oils.

Fueled by the theses of those who support its benefits, regularly denied by those who instead highlight its negative aspects. For this reason, getting a unique idea of ​​the effects of this oil on health is not easy. In this article, we will try to shed light on this topic with the utmost clarity. And exposing the concepts in the most objective way possible, without preconceived ideas about a substance. That, in any case, derives from genetically modified organisms. But trying to analyze the pros and cons of canola oil, especially from a nutritional perspective.

What is canola oil, nutritional values

what is canola oil is characterized by an excellent lipid component. Like extra virgin olive oil, it contains a high percentage of oleic acid and. Which is not very common, also a good amount of linoleic acid. Furthermore, it has an optimal ratio between linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid, i.e., Between omega 6 and omega 3, in the proportion of 2 to 1.

Among vegetable oils, it is the one that contains. The lowest saturated fat content, equal to only 7% of the total composition. Also, it contains vitamin E and vitamin K, and other important micronutrients. Such as chlorophyll, phytosterols, and tocopherols, which perform an antioxidant action.

From a lipid point of view, canola oil is composed as follows:

  • saturated fat 7%
  • monounsaturated fat 63%
  • polyunsaturated fats 28%
  • oleic acid (omega-9) = 61%
  • linoleic acid (omega-6) = 21%
  • alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) = 11%

What it is for

This oil is used in cooking, both as a table oil for seasoning and frying food. For industrial purposes, it is used in the production of margarine.

Canola oil: for frying

Constant use of this refined oil could, however, involve some health risks. This especially if it is usually used as a condiment for dishes or frying. In fact, thanks to its high smoke point. Better then to make a moderate and not daily use.

Canola oil: smoke point

Thanks to its high smoke point (240 °) due to oleic acid’s high content, it is also used for frying. However, it is recommended to avoid daily use.

Canola oil: spray

A spray version of the oil for culinary uses can also be found on the market.

Table substitute canola oil

In any case, in Italy, at the table, and in food preparation, extra virgin olive oil continues to be preferred. While still looking a little with distrust the refined oil from Canada.

The conflicting results of research and, above all, the use of substances. And high temperatures during the refining process lead to favoring a natural product with undoubted and renowned nutritional properties.

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Canola oil for hair

The oil obtained from rapeseed can also be used for cosmetic uses.

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In particular, it appears to be a useful product for the treatment of frizzy hair. Thanks to the high concentration of unsaturated fats, it is an excellent aid to keep hair strong and healthy.

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Biofuel canola oil

Among other possible non-food uses, there is also the use as a fuel for transport.

Uses

How is rapeseed oil – canola used in cooking?

Rapeseed oil low in erucic acid (canola oil) is used as a table, cooking oil in margarine and shortenings. Due to the high smoke point given by the richness in oleic acid, rapeseed oil (canola) can also be frying.

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Rapeseed Oil Description – Canola

Crude rapeseed oil has an amber color. But it becomes obvious after rectification, with a pale yellow color and a rather clear appearance.

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Other uses of rapeseed oil – canola

In Europe, especially in our peninsula, rapeseed – canola oil is largely destined for industrial use. Including the production of biodiesel; in the United States, on the contrary. Given the nutritional properties already mentioned.

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Canola oil, the problem of refining

Therefore, Canola oil would appear to be a precious oil. Comparable for the very high quality of nutritional values ​​to extra virgin olive oil. Capable of nullifying its benefits, transforming its positive components into elements harmful to health.

The chemical solvents used for its bleaching and deodorization, combined at very high temperatures (above 200 degrees). Transform polyunsaturated fats into trans and hydrogenated fats, which are definitely harmful to our body.

Canola oil, (alleged) properties

According to its admirers, canola oil is particularly beneficial for health. In particular, this oil:

  • it does not contain cholesterol
  • has the lowest saturated fat content
  • performs an antioxidant action
  • reduces the risk of heart disease
  • it is an aid against the metabolic syndrome

Is canola oil good or bad?

As mentioned, the debate on the health effects of canola oil consumption is still open. Below we report the arguments of the supporters of the benefits of this vegetable oil. And the relative refutations by those opposed to the food use of canola oil.

PROS: canola oil is rich in good fats, the so-called polyunsaturated fats, which perform a protective function towards the heart. Compared to palm oil, its percentage of polyunsaturated fats is significantly higher (28% against 10% of palm oil). According to a study published in the journal Diabetes Care, led by Dr. David Jenkins, consumption of canola oil reduces the risk of heart disease, especially in patients with type 2 diabetes. In fact, in the experiment’s patients subject, a reduction in blood glucose levels and LDL levels. This would translate into a 7% decrease in cardiovascular disease.

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What is canola oil: PROS

  • According to research conducted by Penny Kris-Etherton of Penn State University. Thanks to its content of monounsaturated fatty acids, canola oil reduces abdominal fat. Representing an effective aid in contrasting the metabolic syndrome.
  • Canola oil is rich in omega 3, fatty acids beneficial for human health, present above all in flaxseed oil, anti-inflammatory properties, and lower triglycerides in the blood.
  • Besides being odorless and tasteless, canola oil has a high smoke point. For these reasons, it is particularly suitable for frying.
  • Canola oil is microbiologically pure and safe for humans, as it undergoes a long and standardized manufacturing process.
  • Canola oil contains phenolic compounds that boast a high antioxidant power.

What is canola oil: CONS

  • Through processes that reach temperatures above 200 degrees, the “friendly” fats turn into enemies for the body. Which transforms them into bad, trans, and hydrogenated fats. The higher the percentage of polyunsaturates, the greater the instability of the oil in question.
  • Cholesterol is a risk factor, not the trigger for heart disease. For this reason, using a single indicator to determine the probability of disease occurrence is a methodological error. A single parameter, such as that of LDL cholesterol, is insufficient to outline a complete and reliable risk picture. Also, other studies have shown that canola oil, despite reducing cholesterol in the short term. Increases cardiovascular disease risk in the long run.
  • This experiment alone is not enough to scientifically demonstrate the benefits of canola oil concerning this specific pathology. And of longer duration to establish a certain connection between consumption. And a decrease in the incidence of metabolic syndrome.
  • The fatty acids in this oil are of the ALA type (alpha-linoleic acid), the vegetable form of omega3. According to some studies, the human body fails to perform this conversion effectively. Because it is rich in omega 3, it would not provide such a high intake.
  • The trans fats present in canola oil increase exponentially through frying. Going from percentages between 0.5 and 4.2 to a value equal to 25%.
  • This food undergoes discoloration and deodorization through solvents, which sometimes remain in the final product. In particular, It may contain traces of hexane, a substance toxic to humans.
  • Phenolic compounds are present in a good percentage in crude oil. The refining process it undergoes systematically leads to a significant net loss of these substances.
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Canola oil, contraindications

In addition to being an oil, therefore a substance that should be consumed in moderation. Because it makes you fat, canola oil has the following contraindications:

  • presence of harmful fats (trans and hydrogenated)
  • the possible presence of chemical residues (hexane)
  • increased risk of heart disease in the long term
  • so increased risk of obesity
  • increased risk of hepatic steatosis
  • the weakening of the immune system

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Environmental sustainability

Initially, a variety of rapeseed used to produce. This method does not configure a type of genetic modification of the species. But it is simply a way to accelerate normal, natural selection processes. Transgenic selection began in 1995 when the multinational Monsanto presented. The first variety of rapeseed was obtained with the plant’s genetic modification techniques. Which made it resistant to glyphosate. Since then, other companies have also followed Monsanto’s trail. To date, we can safely say that what we find on the market is of GMO origin.

This feature is not sustainable from the point of view of the ecosystem. It is not compatible with those who have adopted a lifestyle. That respects the environment and is as much as possible in harmony with nature. At the same time, it is true that in the abstract, it would be preferable to palm or coconut oil. Because it does not cause forest destruction as in the case of these oils. It is equally true that the production of taking seriously. The life of bees is at risk. The gene present in the Canadian brassica variety needed to break down. The erucic acid content is causing many bees’ death.

Final thoughts

Net of what has been illustrated. And all the arguments presented so far. We can draw plausible conclusions on the effects of health. The chemical composition of this oil is excellent, superior to that of many other vegetable oils. The low percentage of saturated oils. And the supply of omega 3 in a ratio of 1: 2 with omega 6 makes it a potentially beneficial product for health. The main problem consists in the refining. Which transforms the good fats into trans and hydrogenated fats, very harmful to health. High temperatures and the use of chemical solvents oxidize the oil and turn it rancid. Depleting it of the nutrients, it would contain if it were cold extracted.

Polyunsaturated fats, which would be good. Subjected to such invasive heat treatment. In practice, the industrial processing of canola oil not only neutralizes its beneficial substances. Making them inert but transforms them into harmful and dangerous elements for our body. Therefore, the main problem of lies in its refining and processing on an industrial scale.

This oil would undoubtedly be a valid product. But in this formulation, it is scarce and practically impossible to find by us. Even if it were of organic origin and cold-pressed. There would remain reservations about its sustainability from an environmental point of view. For all these reasons, it is preferable to consume extra virgin olive oil, which preserves its benefits intact. Preferably of biological origin and obtained in any case with cold extraction.

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