Although oils and fats don't have their own food group in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's ChooseMyPlate dietary guidelines, the department still recommends including some oil in your diet each day. Women should aim for the equivalent of 5 teaspoons daily, while men should consume 6 teaspoons. Soy and canola oils both contribute to your daily oil allowance and, at 124 calories per tablespoon, provide energy you need to get through the day. They have some nutritional similarities, and both fit into a healthful diet, but soy and canola oils differ in their fatty acid and vitamin content.
Overall Fat Content
Soybean and canola oils both contain 14 grams of fat per tablespoon -- the equivalent of 3 teaspoons -- and get the majority of their fat from healthful unsaturated fatty acids. Saturated fat accounts for just 1 gram of fat in a serving of canola oil, and 2.2 grams per serving of soybean oil. Canola oil comes packed with monounsaturated fatty acids, while soybean oil provides polyunsaturated fatty acids. Both types of fat reduce the total amount of cholesterol in your bloodstream, which benefits your cardiovascular system. However, the monounsaturated fat in canola oil has an added bonus -- when used in place of saturated fat in your diet, it helps increase the amount of good, high-density cholesterol in your bloodstream, which further boosts cardiovascular health.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Soybean and canola oil both contain the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA. Your body converts ALA into two other types of omega-3 -- DHA and EPA -- and uses these fats to support brain function, maintain healthy cell membranes and promote healthy vision. Each tablespoon of canola oil offers 1.3 grams of ALA, which makes up the entire daily ALA needs for women and 81 percent for men. Soybean oil contains slightly less ALA, at 0.95 gram per tablespoon -- 86 and 59 percent of the daily ALA needs for women and men, respectively.
Vitamin E Content
Soybean and canola oil differ in their vitamin E content. Each tablespoon of canola oil boasts 2.4 milligrams of vitamin E, or 16 percent of the recommended daily intake, while an equivalent amount of soybean oil provides just 1.2 milligrams. Your body relies on vitamin E for its antioxidant function -- it helps prevent oxidation of blood lipids, which would otherwise contribute to cardiovascular disease. It's also important for cell-to-cell communication and plays a role in blood clotting and blood vessel function.
Vitamin K Content
Soybean oil offers more vitamin K per serving than canola oil. Like vitamin E, vitamin K helps control blood clotting. It activates factors that your platelets -- a specialized type of blood cell -- need in order to aggregate and form clots. It also supports the function of enzymes that control cell growth. Each tablespoon of soy oil contains 25.8 micrograms of vitamin K -- 21 percent of the daily vitamin K needs for men and 29 percent for women.
- USDA ChooseMyPlate: How Much Is My Allowance for Oils?
- HealthAliciousNess: Nutrition Facts Comparison Tool
- Colorado State University Extension: Dietary Fats and Cholesterol
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin E
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin K
- Linus Pauling Institute: Essential Fatty Acids
- USDA ChooseMyPlate: What Are Oils?