Is canola oil good?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Is canola oil good?” and will discuss some health benefits of using canola oil.

Is canola oil good?

Yes, canola oil is good for you. Saturated fat and monounsaturated fatty acids are minimal in canola oil, which makes it an excellent option for cooking oils.

What is canola oil?

Brassica napus, often known as canola, is a major oilseed crop in the world. The terms “Canada” and “ola,” signifying oil, are the origins of the name “canola.” Canola was produced by crossbreeding an edible rapeseed plant in Canada. Due to concerns over erucic acid content that stemmed from animal studies, high-erucic acid rapeseed oil used to be produced in North America solely in small quantities for industrial, nonfood use. In 1976, however, Canadian scientists were able to improve the quality of previous cultivars of rapeseed which led to a conversion to commercially consumable canola cultivars. Glucosinolates and erucic acid were eliminated by crossbreeding (1). 

When it comes to appearance, the canola plant resembles the rapeseed plant, but its nutrients and oil are acceptable for human consumption. Since the canola plant was first produced by scientists, breeders have evolved new kinds with better seed quality. As a result, canola oil production has surged.

The improved oil quality, as well as increased resistance to herbicides, have been achieved by genetically modified canola crops (GM). Ninety-five percent of the canola grown in the United States is genetically modified.

The manufacturing process of canola oil

To produce canola oil, the procedure is identical to that of other oilseeds, according to the Canadian Canola Council.

Cleaning

Starting with the canola seeds, the procedure starts by carefully washing them to eliminate any remaining stems, pods, weed seeds, and other debris. Sand and dirt also are removed by fine screening. Rotex and Buhler are well known suppliers of such screens. Magnetic devices remove metal contaminants from seeds. Plate magnets, drum magnets or electromagnets installed over conveyor belts are commonly used. Later, the oilseeds must be dried. The moisture content of oilseeds often needs to be reduced to minimize degradation in storage and to improve the effectiveness of downstream processing (2).

Flaking and heating

After being dehulled, seeds are processed. If not removed, hulls reduce the total oil yield by absorbing or retaining oil in the pressed cake. Most oilseeds are reduced in size to facilitate hull removal, heating, drying and flaking prior to oil extraction (2). The canola seeds are then heated and flaked by machines before the oil is extracted. To prevent the seed from breaking, grain dryers boost the temperature by a few degrees. Later, the seeds are put through rollers to break down the cell walls and thinly flake them. Flaking of oilseeds also increases surface area for increased contact between solvent and seed during the solvent extraction process (2).

Cooking

The seeds are heated in a succession of cookers or drums that are placed on top of one another. Further cell ruptures are achieved in this phase, and the right viscosity and moisture content are achieved for the next stages. Moreover, cooking helps to preserve the product’s quality by preventing it from degrading. Cooking denatures proteins, releases oil from the cells and inactivates enzymes. Canola is preheated to over 68 degrees Fahrenheit in less than 5 minutes and contacted with live steam at 212°F (2).

Pressing

For gentle pressing, the heated flakes are passed through a sequence of expellers or pressers The remaining seed is compressed into a cake after this procedure eliminates most of the oil.

Extraction: Solvent extraction refers to preferential dissolution of oil by contacting oilseeds with a liquid solvent. This is the most efficient technique to recover oil from oilseeds. The efficiency depends on the oilseed preparation prior to extraction, temperature, mode of operation (batch vs. continuous and co-current vs. counter current operations) and equipment design (2). 

Afterward, hexane is used to remove any leftover oil from the pressed cakes. When the oil and particles are separated, the hexane is recycled for future use.

Processing and refining

Refinement processes enhance the taste, color, and shelf life of crude oil. Gums, fatty acids, fine meal particles, and lipids are removed by water and organic acids. Gums are phospholipids and are natural components of oils and oilseeds. They are not desirable because they settle out of the oil during shipping and storage. Phospholipids have adverse effects on the color and flavor of oil (2)

Bleaching is a method that eliminates color pigments without using bleach. A clay filter is used to eliminate undesirable smells from the oil before it is steam-distilled. Cooking oil or a variety of consumer items are then packaged and distributed by the makers. Bleaching is designed to remove undesirable oil components including peroxides, aldehydes, ketones, phosphatides, oxidative trace metals, soaps and other contaminants such as pesticides and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (2).

Nutritional facts of canola oil

Canola oil includes the following according to the USDA FoodData CentralTrusted Source database.

The following is the amount of a tablespoon:

·         Calories 124

·         More than 16% of the daily recommended intake (RDI) of vitamin E

·         9% of RDI of vitamin K

Essential Fatty Acids Per Tablespoon:

·         A total of 14 grams of fat

·         Saturated fatty acids:1.03 grams.

·         Total monounsaturated fatty acids: 8.86 g

·         Total polyunsaturated fat content: 3.94 grams

·         Gluten and soy are not present in canola oil.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids are abundant in canola oil (PUFAs). It contains 21% Trusted Source linoleic acid (omega-6 fatty acid) and 11% alpha-linolenic (omega-3 fatty acid) PUFAs.The principal omega-3 fatty acids, ALA, EPA and DHA, are believed to each have a constellation of physiological functions for maintaining health (3). 

For those on plant-based diets, the omega-3 fats docosahexaenoic (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) can be increased by supplementing with ALA (EPA). Brain health depends on the intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Alpha-linolenic acid, ALA, the plant omega-3, is the dietary precursor for the long-chain omega-3 PUFA eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Studies in normal healthy adults consuming western diets, which are rich in linoleic acid (LA), show that supplemental ALA raises EPA and DHA status in the blood and in breast milk (3).

DHA and EPA levels can be increased by eating fish, however, the human body isn’t especially effective in the conversion of ALA to these fats. Studies demonstrated that supplementing the diet with high levels ALA leads to small  but significant increases on EPA in blood (3). ALA and other polyunsaturated fats are severely affected by canola oil’s manufacturing process and cooking procedures like frying.

Trans fats are also found in canola oil. Small levels of these may be dangerous, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Canola oil health benefits

Canola oil, according to a 2013 assessment, is one of the healthiest vegetable oils since it minimizes disease-related variables and enhances health. Despite being published in a peer-reviewed publication, the research has the backing of canola oil industry associations.

Data reveal substantial reductions in total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, as well as other positive actions, including increased tocopherol levels and improved insulin sensitivity, compared with consumption of other dietary fat sources. In summary, growing scientific evidence supports the use of canola oil, beyond its beneficial actions on circulating lipid levels, as a health-promoting component of the diet (1).

The risks associated with canola oil

Canola oil has been linked to several health issues, according to several studies.

Heart health

Even while canola oil is generally touted as a heart-healthy lipid and a healthier option than other oils, recent research suggests that it may be hazardous in certain cases. The results of this research are in direct opposition to a previous evaluation that suggested that persons who eat canola oil may have lower risk factors for heart disease, such as high levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. The canola industry has provided support for this study. Studies indicated that the substitution of dairy fat, such as milk or cheese fat, by canola oil led to a significantly reduced LDL-C levels in blood. Similar results were observed when high saturated vegetable fat, such as palm oil (1).

To determine if canola oil is good or detrimental to heart health, more study is needed.

Inflammation

Oxidative stress and inflammation have been associated with canola oil in several animal studies. However, many studies suggest the opposite, when compared to a high saturated fat diet. In a research study, the effects of a canola oil-based diet compared to an SFA-based diet on biomarkers of antioxidative capacity. Levels of tocopherol (vitamin E) were higher following the canola oil-based diet compared to the SFA-based diet. Because of its antioxidant activity, the increased levels of tocopherol may have protected the PUFA in the canola oil diet from oxidation. In summary, canola oil may potentially promote immune and cardiovascular health through its antithrombotic and antioxidative effects (1).

Memory

Alzheimer’s disease-simulating mice were fed canola oil, which had a deleterious effect on memory, according to 2017 research. The findings did not support a beneficial effect of chronic canola oil consumption on two important aspects of Alzheimer’s Disease pathophysiology which includes memory impairments as well as synaptic integrity (4).

Other FAQs about Oils that you may be interested in.

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Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Is canola oil good?” and discussed some health benefits of using canola oil.

References

  1. Lin, Lin, et al. Evidence of health benefits of canola oil. Nutr rev, 2013, 71, 370-385.
  2. Dunford, N. Oil and Oilseed Processing I, II and III. Oklahoma State University, 2019.
  3. Brenna, J. Thomas, et al. α-Linolenic acid supplementation and conversion to n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in humans. Prostag, leukot essent fatty acids, 2009, 80, 2, 85-91.
  4. Lauretti, E., Praticò, D. Effect of canola oil consumption on memory, synapse and neuropathology in the triple transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Sci Rep, 2017, 7, 17134. 

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.