Oil is often an essential component of recipes for flavor and moisture, and many people also use oil for frying or grilling. The nutrient content of oil is sometimes questioned, as people continue to watch their intakes of saturated fat and monitor cholesterol levels. Canola and mustard oils are two types used around the world that may be substituted for cooking to provide an alternative form of dietary fat and flavor.
Canola oil was originally created from crushing an edible plant called rapeseed; although its earliest form was high in erucic acid, which can be toxic to humans. Through cross-breeding techniques, canola became its own crop suitable for oil production. Canola is a crop grown throughout the world, with the majority grown in Canada and Europe. Canola oil can also be used as a type of lubricant for metals or for fuel.
Mustard oil is created from the mustard seed of the plant Brassica juncea. It is commonly used as a type of cooking oil in India, and works to slow fermentation. In addition to cooking, mustard oil is used as an alternative healing treatment for skin infections and ulcers; as a hair oil to keep it shiny; or as a general lubricant.
When used in cooking, canola oil has lower levels of saturated fat than some other types of oil, including corn oil or olive oil. You can substitute canola oil in many recipes that call for processed vegetable or corn oil. It can also be used for salad dressings and marinades; and as a method to keep foods from sticking to pans. Mustard oil may replace vegetable oil for frying or can be used as a type of dressing for salads and vegetables.
Different types of dietary fat exist; your body needs some of these fats and can do without others. Saturated fats contribute to higher levels of cholesterol and an increased risk of heart disease. Unsaturated fats and some types of fatty acids help to lower cholesterol levels. According to the Canola Council, canola oil is low in saturated fats, but has high levels of unsaturated fats and fatty acids; including omega-3 and omega-6. Mustard oil also contains alpha-linoleic acid, a type of fatty acid which may help to lower cholesterol levels.
Some people question the safety of canola oil, claiming it is not safe to use for cooking. These claims may stem from canola’s history of originally coming from the rapeseed plant. Canola oil is viewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to be generally recognized as safe for human consumption. In 2006, the FDA determined that because canola oil contains unsaturated fat, replacing saturated fats with canola oil may reduce the risk of heart disease. Canola oil is also free from food allergens and can be stored on the shelf for about a year without becoming rancid.