Can I use olive oil instead of canola oil?
In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Can I use olive oil instead of canola oil?” Additionally, it will discuss which is the healthier option between canola oil and olive oil, the differences in macronutrients and minor components, and what are the best usage for both oils.
Can I use olive oil instead of canola oil?
Yes, you can use olive oil instead of canola oil. Using olive oil as a cooking medium is a well-known heart-healthy choice. It is possible to use olive oil to enhance the flavor of your dishes as salad dressing or topping (1,2).
Similar to canola oil, olive oil may be used in the kitchen to cook. Olive oil may provide a distinct flowery taste to baked goods when used in baking (1).
What is Canola oil and olive oil?
Canola oil is the oil obtained from rapeseed (Brassica napus L.), this seed has less harmful chemicals like erucic acid and glucosinolates than other rapeseeds (such as Brassica rapa and Brassica juncea). Because of this innovation, canola oil is safe to consume.
Canola oil is commonly obtained from chemical extraction, followed by a refining process. Chemical extraction is a common step in canola processing, because it is cheaper, although other methods such as expeller and cold-pressing are possible.
The refining process refers to a series of processes applied to the oil like bleaching and deodorization, resulting in a colorless product with no discernible odor; refining is done to increase the shelf-life of the oil (4).
Olive oil, on the other hand, is derived from the squeezed fruit of the olive tree: olives. Even though there are many kinds of olive oil, ordinary olive oil, and extra virgin olive oil are the most popular (5).
Unlike ordinary olive oil, which includes both virgin (pressed) and refined (heated or chemically extracted) olive oil, extra virgin olive oil is obtained only by pressing. Extra virgin olive oil is more costly, but it’s better for you since it’s not refined as much as ordinary olive oil (5).
What is the nutritional value of Canola and Olive oil?
Canola oil and olive oil are comparable in terms of macronutrients (fat content). Canola and normal (refined) olive oil provide the following nutrients in one tablespoon (15 ml) each:
|Olive oil||Canola oil|
|Energy||124 calories||124 calories|
|Fats||14 g||14 g|
|Saturated fats||1.93 g||1.03 g|
|Polyunsaturated fats||1.47 g||3.93 g|
|Monounsaturated fats||10.2 g||8.86 g|
|Cholesterol||0 mg||0 mg|
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)||2.01 mg||2.45 mg|
Adapted from USDA FoodData Central (6,7)
However, the specific components like fatty acid profile, antioxidants, and vitamins are different between canola and olive oil (3,5).
Canola oil has more polyunsaturated fat than olive oil, which has more saturated and monounsaturated fat (6,7).
Polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as the ones in canola oil, are known to reduce the risk, in approximately 9 %, of cardiovascular health by regulating the lipoproteins in blood (8).
Monounsaturated fatty acids, such as oleic acid, is closely related to a better cardiovascular health. In fact, according to the literature, eating olive oil can reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease and stroke by 4 and 26 % (5).
The risk factors for heart disease, high blood sugar, and premature mortality are all decreased in those who use olive oil regularly (5).
For instance, the study of Schwingshackl et al. (9) found that individuals who consumed olive oil had a 16 percent reduced chance of developing type 2 diabetes.
Furthermore, both monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are associated with a lower risk of neurological aging, helping to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (5,8).
In the case of minor components, virgin and extra virgin olive oil contains much more antioxidants compared to canola oil (3,5).
Olive oil contains more chlorophylls and hydrophilic phenols than canola oil; this is a nutritional advantage because they can exert antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (10).
Antioxidants are molecules that neutralize free radicals, which may be damaging to your DNA and cause diseases like heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and certain types of cancer (5)..
You can find further information regarding olive oil health benefits in this article.
However, if you are looking for a healthy oil, you should select virgin or extra-virgin olive oil. Regular olive oil (which has been subjected to refining) has lower content of polyphenols and antioxidant compounds (5).
What are the main uses of olive oil and canola oil?
Because of their distinct characteristics, olive oil and canola oil are suitable for different culinary applications. For example (2,3,11):
- Olive oil has a strong taste and flavor, and it could be used as a raw topping or seasoning in salads, sandwiches, pizza, among others. On the other hand, the mild-low flavor of canola makes it unsuitable as a raw seasoning.
- Canola oil may be more suitable for making salad dressings with other tasty ingredients like mayonnaise, caesar salad dressing, vinaigrette, among others.
- Olive oil has a lower smoke point, the temperature in which the fat starts to degrade into toxic compounds. Therefore, olive oil is only suitable for sauteing and cooking at low temperatures (<180 °C).
- At high temperatures, olive oil loses around 50 % of its antioxidants, which impair the healthy aspects of this valuable food.
- Canola oil has a high smoke point (around 220 °C or above),which makes it suitable for deep frying food.
If you want to learn more about what happens if you use olive oil for cooking, please visit our article right here.
Which option is better for you?
The answer on which is a better option for you would vary depending on the context you intend using the oil.
For example, Olive oil, particularly extra virgin, is better for you in terms of nutritional composition if you are using it as a raw seasoning to foods, or for cooking foods at low temperatures (< 180 °C) (2,5).
If you intend to deep fry or cook some food in the oven and you need to cook above 200 °C, maybe you should go for canola oil; remember that high temperatures will degrade the healthy antioxidants in olive oil (2,3).
Other FAQs about Oils that you may be interested in.
In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Can I use olive oil instead of canola oil?” Additionally, it discussed which is the healthier option between canola oil and olive oil, the differences in macronutrients and minor components, and what are the best usage for both oils.
- Lozano-Castellon J, de Alvarenga JFR, Vallverdu-Queralt A, Lamuela-Raventos RM. Cooking with extra-virgin olive oil: A mixture of food components to prevent oxidation and degradation. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 2022;123:28-36.
- Guillaume C, De Alzaa F, Ravetti L. Evaluation of chemical and physical changes in different commercial oils during heating. Acta Scientific Nutritional Health, 2018;2(6):2-11.
- Lin L, Allemekinders H, Dansby A, Campbell L, Durance-Tod S, Berger A, et al. Evidence of health benefits of canola oil. Nutr Rev, 2013;71(6):370–85.
- Vaisali C, Charanyaa S, Belur PD, Regupathi I. Refining of edible oils: a critical appraisal of current and potential technologies. Int J Food Sci Technol, 2015;50(1):13–23.
- Foscolou A, Critselis E, Panagiotakos D. Olive oil consumption and human health: A narrative review. Maturitas, 2018;118:60–6.
- FoodData central [Internet]. Usda.gov. [cited 20 June 2023]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/172336/nutrients
- FoodData central [Internet]. Usda.gov. [cited 20 June 2023]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1103861/nutrients
- Djuricic I, Calder PC. Beneficial outcomes of omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on human health: An update for 2021. Nutrients, 2021;13(7):2421.
- Schwingshackl L, Lampousi AM, Portillo MP, Romaguera D, Hoffmann G, Boeing H. Olive oil in the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies and intervention trials. Nutr Diabetes, 2017;10;7(4):e262.
- Koski A, Psomiadou E, Tsimidou M, Hopia A, Kefalas P, Wähälä K, et al. Oxidative stability and minor constituents of virgin olive oil and cold-pressed rapeseed oil. Eur Food Res Technol, 2002;214(4):294–8.
- Genovese A, Caporaso N, Sacchi R. Flavor chemistry of virgin olive oil: An overview. Applied Sciences, 2021;11(4):1639.