Canola (Brassica napus) is a crop seed that belongs to the Brassicaceae family. Canola is also known as Rapeseed. It is believed to be originated in Canada and has also grown in Europe and Australia.
Vegetable oil is extracted from the seeds of canola, known as canola oil. Fatty acids with high monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids make it a healthy crop. (1)
Canola oil is a healthy oil because of the presence of vitamins, fatty acids, and phytosterols. It has the lowest content of saturated fatty acids and a moderate range of polyunsaturated (PUFAs) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). (2)
Consumption of the oil also influences biological functions and decreases the risk of diseases. Intake of a canola oil-based diet is believed to reduce plasma cholesterol levels compared to diets containing higher levels of saturated fatty acids. (3)
The canola seeds are round and have a diameter of 1.5 to 3 mm. They are brownish to black with a smooth texture. The oil is extracted, refined, and processed. This vegetable oil has a neutral flavor with a light texture.
The oil is extracted for food purposes. It is mainly used in cooking for frying and baking. The industry uses canola oil to make biodiesel, greases, machine oils, and bio-plastic. Products like animal feed and fertilizer are also made from canola oil. (4)
The oil is a rich source of vitamins, fatty acids, and phytosterols. It contains a good amount of healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) and a moderate amount of saturated fats, which are considered unhealthy for our health compared to MUFAs and PUFAs.
The analysis of canola oil and the fatty acids contained in it is (5)
|Lipids||Amounts (per 100 grams)|
|Total fat||100 g|
|Saturated fatty acids||7.36 g|
|Monounsaturated fatty acids||63.6 g|
|Polyunsaturated fatty acids||28.1 g|
The oil is high in calories (884 kcal/100 g). It also contains vitamins like vitamin E (17.5 mg/100 g), vitamin K (71.3 mcg/100 g), and choline (0.2 mg/100 g). (5)
The oil is high in phytosterols like stigmasterol (2.38 mg/100 g), campesterol (260 mg/100g), brassicasterol (78.2 mg/100 g), beta-sitosterol (368 mg/100 g), and delta-5-avenasterol (24.7 mg/100 g). (6) These phytosterols positively affect cardiovascular health and blood cholesterol.
Canola oil is rich in fatty acids, phytosterols, and vitamins. Consumption of this oil has beneficial effects on coronary heart disease, insulin sensitivity, lipid peroxidation, inflammation, energy metabolism, and cancer cell growth. (7)
- Can benefit individuals with diabetes: The oil contains polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6). It also contains phytosterols which possess antioxidant properties. (8) These components in canola oil help regulate blood flow and prevent insulin resistance, which leads to lowering and maintaining blood sugar in type-2 diabetes. (9)
- Can benefit skin health: This oil is rich in vitamins E, K, and phytosterols ( campesterol). These nutritional components possess antioxidant properties and reduce oxidative reactions in skin cells. Applying and consuming canola oil protects the skin from sunburn and makes it bright. (9)
- Can improve heart health: The presence of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids gives canola oil benefits to heart health. It contains many omega-3 fatty acids, which are a good source of vitamin E and function as a heart health-benefiting vitamin. (9) The oil also maintains the cholesterol level and protects the heart from stroke and heart attack, balancing a healthy blood lipid profile.
- Can improve bone health: Polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids) and vitamin K support bone health. Such components in the oil prevent osteoporosis (weakening bones and joints) and the fracturing of bones. This oil also reduces muscle loss and age-related bone problems. (10)
- Can balance cholesterol levels: The oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, which helps lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in the blood and maintains blood flow. The oil doesn’t let the cholesterol level spike. (9)
The oil is used as cooking oil and also for making animal feed. Despite having several uses in kitchens, farms, and industry (non-food uses), this oil still has health risks. Although canola contains a moderate quantity of saturated fatty acids, it can still negatively affect our heart health. As the oil is highly refined, the fatty acid profile can increase inflammation in the body. (11) High ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can also increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. (12)
- Barthet, Véronique. (2016). Canola: Overview. 10.1016/B978-0-08-100596-5.00029-9.
- Starner, David & Hamama, Anwar & Bhardwaj, Harbans. (1999). Canola Oil Yield and Quality as Affected by Production Practices in Virginia.
- Lin, Lin & Allemekinders, Hanja & Dansby, Angela & Campbell, Lisa & Durance-Tod, Shaunda & Berger, Alvin & Jones, Peter. (2013). Evidence of health benefits of canola oil. Nutrition reviews. 71. 370-85. 10.1111/nure.12033.
- Przybylski, Roman & Mag, T. & Eskin, Michael & McDonald, B.E.. (2005). Canola Oil. 10.1002/047167849X.bio004.
- Fooddata Central Search Results [Internet]. FoodData Central. [cited 2023Feb6]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/172336/nutrients
- Fooddata Central Search Results [Internet]. FoodData Central. [cited 2023Feb6]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/748278/nutrients
- Lin L, Allemekinders H, Dansby A, Campbell L, Durance-Tod S, Berger A, et al. Evidence of health benefits of canola oil. Nutrition Reviews. 2013;71(6):370–85.
- Atefi M, Pishdad GR, Faghih S. The effects of canola and olive oils on insulin resistance, inflammation and oxidative stress in women with type 2 diabetes: A randomized and controlled trial. Journal of Diabetes & Metabolic Disorders. 2018;17(2):85–91.
- Herbst, Michael. (2015). Fact Sheet on Canola Oil. 10.13140/2.1.1332.5607.
- Mangano KM, Sahni S, Kerstetter JE, Kenny AM, Hannan MT. Polyunsaturated fatty acids and their relation with bone and muscle health in adults. Current Osteoporosis Reports. 2013;11(3):203–12.
- Canola oil: Benefits, risks, and alternatives [Internet]. Medical News Today. MediLexicon International; [cited 2023Feb6]. Available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/canola#risks
- Canola oil cooking benefits [Internet]. WebMD. WebMD; [cited 2023Feb6]. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/canola-oil