Is Canola Oil More Healthy Than Olive Oil?

Canola and olive oils, both vegetable oils, have a lot in common. They both include healthy fats and have similar benefits. Canola oil is slightly healthier than olive oil, although olive oil is also a healthy oil. Some oils are better than others for various cooking techniques, as oils have different smoke points. It's best to choose an oil based on how you're cooking food.

Canola oil is slightly healthier than olive oil. (Image: grau-art/iStock/Getty Images)

Calories

Olive oil and Crisco brand canola oil contain the same number of calories per serving with 120 calories in each 1 tbsp. Since they contain so many calories in such a small serving, consume these fats in moderation. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating no more than 20 to 35 percent of your daily calories from fat.

Composition of Fat

You should get most of your fat calories from polyunsaturated and monounsaturated sources, keeping your saturated fat level below 10 percent of your daily calories and making your trans fat consumption almost nonexistent. Canola oil is made up of 62 percent monounsaturated fat, 31 percent polyunsaturated fat and 7 percent saturated fat. Extra virgin olive oil contains 78 percent monounsaturated fat, 8 percent polyunsaturated fat and 14 percent saturated fat. The different types of olive are not the same. Extra virgin olive oil is from the first pressing of the olives and is the least processed, making it the healthiest kind. However, "light" or refined olive oil contains the same fat as extra virgin. Since canola oil contains less saturated fat than olive oil, it is considered healthier.

Types of Fat

The significant amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in olive and canola oils are types of healthy fat that lower low-density lipoprotein, or bad, cholesterol, increase high-density lipoprotein, or good, cholesterol and improve your heart health. Saturated and trans fats become solidified at room temperature, and can lead to clogged arteries. Conversely, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats stay liquid at room temperature. Canola oil contains more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which are part of the polyunsaturated fat group. Olive oil does contain some omega-3.

Smoke Point

The cooking process changes the chemical makeup of oils and can lower their healthy qualities and make them unhealthy. If you cook oil at a higher heat than its smoke point, it can cause free radicals to form, which are a cause of cancer and other diseases. Light or refined olive oil can be used for high-heat cooking although extra virgin olive oil should only be used for medium-high cooking or lower. Canola oil's recommendation is also for medium-high temperatures or lower. These two types of oil have higher smoke points than many oils, including flaxseed, soybean and sesame.

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