By Michelle Jaelin, RD
Canola oil is one of the most versatile ingredients you can have in your kitchen. The neutral flavour works well from your savoury dishes like a stir fry to your sweet treats like muffins. In addition to versatility, the heart health factor is another reason why canola oil is a Canadian powerhouse product.
The Science Behind Why Canola Oil is Considered a Heart Healthy Fat
Let’s think back to chemistry 101 (yikes!) where you learned what a fat is made of: two kinds of smaller molecules – glycerol and fatty acids. It’s important to note that not all fatty acids are created equally.
Saturated fatty acids have all their carbon molecules covered (saturated) in hydrogen atoms. These saturated fats, when eaten in large quantities, can increase total blood cholesterol, including “lousy” LDL cholesterol. This is the “bad” cholesterol often discussed which causes blockages in the blood vessels of the heart and in other parts of your body.
Polyunsaturated fats have two or more double bonds in the carbon chain: Omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. The numbers 3 and 6 refer to where the double bond is located on the carbon chain. These essential fats have been shown to help decrease inflammation, prevent heart disease, diabetes and other autoimmune disorders. They are both essential fats because the body doesn’t make them and thus they need to be consumed in the diet.
Canola oil is rich monounsaturated fats and high in polyunsaturated fats: both alpha-linolenic acid (ALA – an essential omega-3 fatty acid) and linoleic acid (LA – an essential omega-6 fatty acid). Furthermore, it is low in saturated fat, which is why it’s considered a heart healthy cooking oil.
Canola Oil Smoke Point
Canola oil has a high smoke point of 242°C (468°F). A high smoke point refers to the temperature when the fat starts to break down, both from a flavour and nutritional standpoint. Because of its high smoke point, canola oil is great for high heat cooking, such as stir frying, baking, barbequing, sautéing and deep frying – although this cooking method is best enjoyed on a special occasion.
Personally, I use canola oil for stir frying all my asian vegetables. Canola oil works well for high heat cooking your bok choy, gai lan, choy sum, watercress, dou miu and more! I also like to use it for heart healthier baked goods such as cookies or muffins.
Canadian Canola Oil
Most people don’t know this, but canola is actually a plant that belongs to the crucifer family; similar to cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower and bok choy. The canola plant produces pods, which contain canola seeds. These seeds are crushed to create canola oil.
Canada is the largest exporter of canola oil worldwide. Canadian canola farmers grow the best for Canadians and for customers around the world, meeting all requirements of countries globally. Personally I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many canola farmers and have had the privilege of asking them the questions I often get from consumers. Through conversations with farmers and evidence based research, I see how blessed we are to have access to a local product grown by Canadian farmers who produce safe, affordable and healthy food.
Made with Canola Oil – Recipes to Try
As a foodie, I have quite varied tastes, but these are a few of the top recipes I recommend:
Barley Lentil Soup
Overnight Spinach and Cheese Strata
Lemon Cupcake with Cheesecake Frosting
Have you tried any of these recipes?