Are vegetable oil and canola oil interchangeable?
In this article, we will answer the question “Are vegetable oil and canola oil interchangeable”? We are going to discuss how vegetable oil is different from canola oil, as well as go through the safety aspects, and health benefits of canola and vegetable oils.
Are vegetable oil and canola oil interchangeable?
Yes, vegetable oil and canola oil are interchangeable. See ahead the fat composition and the smoke point of selected vegetable oils compared with canola oil, adapted from Alvarenga and others .
|Oil type||Saturated fat (%)||Monounsaturated fat (%)||Polyunsaturated fat (%)||Smoke point (°C)|
As you can see, the fat profile of different vegetable oils varies considerably. This reflects in how healthy the oil is and in its stability due to heating. The content of monounsaturated fat in canola oil is greater than in other vegetable oils.
It contains about 11% of omega-3 fatty acids, which is an essential nutrient widely associated with health-promoting effects, such as anti-inflammatory action and cardiovascular protection [2,3].
While other vegetable oils, like corn and soybean, have lower concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids (from 1% to 8%) and much higher concentrations of omega-6 (60%) than canola oil.
On the other hand, all of them show near smoke points, indicating that they are all suitable for cooking and frying.
Furthermore, canola and vegetable oil are both mild in taste, which means that replacing one for another will not impact your recipe sensorily.
What is vegetable oil?
Vegetable oil is the broad term used for oils that have a plant-based origin. These include corn, soybean, avocado, peanut, flaxseed oil, sunflower, and olives, for instance. They are usually refined.
Vegetable oils are naturally good sources of healthy fats (namely mono and polyunsaturated fats), and free of trans fats. However, the fat profile can vary greatly between different types of vegetable oil.
Just to give you a few examples, linseed oil has 70% of polyunsaturated fats (mostly omega-3), while olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats (80%), but is poor in polyunsaturated fats (14% or below) .
On the other hand, soybean and corn oils are low in omega-3, but high in omega-6 fatty acids (about 60% of total fats) .
What is canola oil?
Canola oil is produced from rapeseed using plant breeding techniques aiming to reduce erucic acid levels, a fat component that is potentially harmful to health [2,3]. Commercial canola oil contains less than 2% of erucic acid in its composition.
Canola oil is low in saturated fats, free from trans fats, and a good source of mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
According to Lin and others , canola oil is characterized by 7% of saturated fats, about 61% of monounsaturated fats, and 30% of polyunsaturated fats. It is also refined.
Do vegetable oil and canola oil have a higher smoke point?
Vegetable oil and canola oil have a high smoke point (around 230°C), particularly if compared with other plant-derived oils like olive oil (195-210°C) .
The smoke point is a temperature at which oil degrades and starts smoking. When oil is heated at the smoke point it results in an unpleasant smell and burnt taste in the food .
Both vegetable oil and canola oil has a high smoke point (230°C), so you can use both oils in frying, deep frying, and searing.
Is canola oil safe?
Yes, canola oil is stated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) since 1985 .
Canola oil has a low content of erucic acid as a result of rapeseed oil being bred to contain low levels of this fatty acid (less than 2%). Erucic acid at high levels of consumption is associated with adverse effects on the heart in several species .
Therefore, canola oil is safe for consumption.
Is canola oil healthier than vegetable oil?
It depends on the oil and on the ratio of ingestion of each of them. When consumed in balanced amounts in an equilibrated diet, both are healthy.
Vegetable oils are most of the time sunflower, soybean, corn, or a mixture of them. These oils are higher in omega-6 fatty acids and lower in omega-3 and monounsaturated fats than canola oil.
Particularly, canola oil contains 60% of monounsaturated fat, 21% of omega-6, and 11% of omega-3 fatty acids.
Due to this fat profile, evidence now shows that canola oil can bring benefits to your health when consumed in adequate amounts and combined with an equilibrated diet.
With regard to the high monounsaturated fats content of canola oil, Lin and others  highlighted the evidence supporting the positive effects of them compared with saturated fats on cardiovascular health.
Cited underlying mechanisms for cardiovascular protection include the regulation of plasma lipids and lipoproteins, susceptibility of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) to oxidation, and insulin sensitivity [2,3].
Also, canola oil has been recommended for achieving daily omega-3 fatty acids requirements of 1 g/day [2,3], as it contains about 11% of this compound in relation to the total fat content.
Omega-3 fatty acids have also been implicated with anti-inflammatory properties, reduction of blood pressure, and lowering of serum triglycerides and cholesterol levels [2,3].
Despite omega-6 fatty acids being essential nutrients that must be obtained from the diet, unbalanced ingestion of this fat compound has been linked with pro-inflammatory outcomes.
Thus, the best thing to do is not to extinguish vegetable oils from your diet because they also have important nutrients in their composition. Rather, limit the consumption of oils high in omega-6 by partially replacing them with sources rich in omega-3.
Cooking with vegetable or canola oil
Both canola oil and vegetable oils have a mild flavor and high smoke point, so you can use them to prepare different dishes, interchangeably.
- It can be used for baking, grilling, stir-frying, etc.
- It can be used to make sauces and salad dressings.
- It can be used to coat the non-stick pan.
- Can be used as a replacement for butter or margarine.
In this brief guide, we answered the question “Are vegetable oil and canola oil interchangeable?” We discussed how vegetable oil is different from canola oil, as well as we went through the safety aspects and health benefits of canola and vegetable oils.
- Alvarenga, BR, Xavier, FAN., Soares, FLF. et al. Thermal Stability Assessment of Vegetable Oils by Raman Spectroscopy and Chemometrics. Food Anal. Methods. 2022; 11:1969–1976.
- Lin Lin, Hanja Allemekinders, Angela Dansby, Lisa Campbell, Shaunda Durance-Tod, Alvin Berger, Peter JH Jones, Evidence of health benefits of canola oil. Nutrition Reviews. 2013;71(6):370–385.
- Ghazani, SM, Marangoni, AG. Minor Components in Canola Oil and Effects of Refining on These Constituents: A Review. J Am Oil Chem Soc. 2013; 90: 923–932.
- Frankel N E. Lipid oxidation. Oily Print, 2005.