Canola oil is one of the many cooking oils that can be found on the shelves of grocery stores. Light in color, it has a medium smoke point, making it a better choice to cook with than olive oil, which has a low smoke point. This oil, originally from the rapeseed plant, was crossbred in order to create the canola plant. The only ingredient in canola oil is canola, per se. But it is made up of certain fats, vitamins and other nutrients that indicate canola can be a part of a heart-healthy diet.
One of the basic components of canola oil is monounsaturated fat. This type of fat makes up most of the fat you find in canola oil, and is linked to a decrease in inflammation in the body, according to Christopher P. Cannon in his book, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Anti-Inflammation Diet." Monounsaturated fats are also linked to reduced cholesterol levels, lower risk for heart disease and weight loss.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids
Canola oil also contains both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Deborah A. Klein, in her book, "The 200 SuperFoods That Will Save Your Life," states that canola is comprised of about 23 percent omega-6s and 10 to 15 percent omega-3s. Oil higher in omega-6s than omega-3s tend to be better to cook with, since omega-3s are highly susceptible to damage from heat, and omega-6s are more stable. Both are an important part of the diet.
Canola oil also contains relatively high levels of vitamin E. In his book, "Vitamins and Minerals Demystified," author Steve Blake notes that canola oil contains 21 mg of vitamin E per 100 g, making it one of the top oils with this vitamin. Vitamin E is important for many body processes, including helping blood clot, healing cuts and bruises and acting as an antioxidant, fighting free radicals from both food and the environment.
Canola oil also contains erucic acid, but not the high amount contained in the original rapeseed plant. Although Cannon notes erucic acid is the "magic" ingredient in Lorenzo's oil, which was the subject of a movie about curing a genetic illness, this acid can actually be toxic in high amounts according to MayoClinic.com. The amount found in canola oil is low and is not considered harmful to humans.
- "The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Anti-Inflammation Diet"; Christopher P. Cannon; 2006
- "The 200 SuperFoods That Will Save Your Life"; Deborah A. Klein; 2009
- "Vitamins and Minerals Demystified"; Steve Blake; 2008
- "MayoClinic.com; Canola oil: Does it contain toxins?; Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.; Feb. 27, 2010