Canola Oil: Nutrition Facts and health benefits

By: Nutrition Expert- Vidula Kozarekar, Mumbai.

Email id: vidula708@gmail.com

The name ‘Canola’ is a contraction of ‘Canadian’ and ‘ola’, which means oil. Canola is a bright, yellow-flowering plant. Originally from the Mediterranean area and Northern Europe, Canola is commonly known as rapeseed. Today, canola oil is the third largest vegetable oil by volume after palm and soybean oil (1).

Canola Oil Facts: (2)

  • There  is  a  strict  internationally  regulated definition of canola that differentiates it from rapeseed,  based upon  it  having less  than two percent erucic acid and less than 30 micromoles of glucosinolates. Oilseed products that do not meet this standard cannot use the term canola. High erucic acid rapeseed acreage, although still grown, is now confined to production under contract for specific industrial uses, including environmentally friendly lubricants.
  • Canola  belongs  to  the  same  family  as  cabbage  and  cauliflower  –  Canola,  along  with cabbage,  broccoli  and  cauliflower,  is part  of  the  genus  Brassica,  which belongs  to  the mustard family of  plants.
  • Canola meal is a highly valuable feed for livestock – Canola meal’s high protein content makes it a useful and nutritious feed for cattle, fish, chickens and other animals. In dairy cattle, canola meal has been shown in several studies to boost milk production compared to other animal feeds.
  • Canola oil is non-allergenic – food allergens are proteins that can cause the body’s immune system to react in susceptible individuals. Allergic responses are abnormal ones by the immune system to a specific food.  Since traditional refined canola oil does not contain proteins, it will rarely, if ever, cause an allergic reaction.
  • Canola oil has a long shelf life – Canola oil can be stored at room temperature for about one year. This is about the same shelf life as most other vegetable oils. Store canola oil in a cool cupboard for optimal shelf life.
  • Canola oil has the highest smoke point of oils – it is also an ideal choice for deep frying because it can be heated to a higher temperature (smoke point 246 °C). This results in lower oil retention in the fried foods.
  • Canola Eggs in South Africa – Pick ‘n Pay Choice Canola Eggs: The hens are fed on a wholesome diet rich in canola oil, which is a source of omega-3 fatty acids. The feed is free from any fishmeal or animal by-products.

Canola oil is characterized by the following:

low level (7%) of saturated fatty acids (SFAs); substantial amounts of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), including 61% oleic acid, 21% linoleic acid, and 11% alpha-linolenic acid (ALA); plant sterols (0.53–0.97%); and tocopherols (700–1,200 ppm) – all of which have data indicating they are cardio-protective substances (3).

In 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the following qualified health claim for canola oil:

“Limited and not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that eating about 1½ tablespoons (19 grams) of canola oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to the unsaturated fat content in canola oil. To achieve this possible benefit, canola oil is to replace a similar amount of saturated fat and not increase the total number of calories you eat in a day.” (4) This claim was based on the validity of total cholesterol (TC) and LDL cholesterol (LDL-C) as biomarkers for coronary heart disease (CHD).

Improves insulin resistance, inflammation and oxidative stress in Type-2 Diabetes:

A study revealed that; replacing Canola Oil and Olive Oil with Sunflower Oil as part of daily dietary fat in the diet of people with type 2 diabetes is recommended for reducing Inflammation and Oxidative Stress (5).

Canola oils used in cooking can decrease abdominal fat:

American and Canadian researchers, who presented their findings at  the American Heart Association’s 2013 EPI/NPAM Scientific Sessions  in New Orleans,  found  that  canola  oils  used  in  cooking  can  decrease  abdominal  fat.  “The monounsaturated fats in these vegetable oils appear to reduce abdominal fat, which in turn may decrease metabolic syndrome risk factors,” said Penny Kris-Etherton, a professor at Penn State,  in a  news release (6).

Conclusion:

Canola oil can now be regarded as one of the healthiest edible vegetable oils in terms of its biological functions and its ability to aid in reducing disease-related risk factors and improving health.

References:

  1. https://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/SoybeansOilcrops/Canola.htm
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/273077273_Fact_Sheet_on_Canola_Oil
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3746113/
  4. http://wayback.archive-it.org/7993/20171114183734/https://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/LabelingNutrition/ucm072958.htm
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6405399/
  6. (Nutrition-and-you.Com; WebMD;  Mayo  Clinic;  Dasman Diabetes  Institute;  ScienceDaily; Medical Daily; ReseachGate; eHow).

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