Canola Oil: Healthy or Harmful?

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Canola oil continues to be wildly misunderstood. Some worry about the erucic acid, a toxic compound found in rapeseed. But canola oil comes from an edible form of rapeseed, with erucic acid levels well below the U.S. Food and Drug Administration standards. Others warn that 90% of canola oil is genetically modified, though there are no scientific studies to suggest GMOs are harmful. Still others cite the fact that canola oil is used in products such as diesel fuel alternatives and items made with plasticizers, like tires. Plenty of other ingredients appear in inedible items. That doesn't mean they're harmful.

If you look at the real story behind canola oil and study its nutrient profile, you'll discover it's actually one of the healthiest oils on the shelf.

Canola Oil: Nutrition Facts

There are a number of reasons to include this healthy oil in your diet:

  1. It’s low in saturated fat: In fact, canola oil has the least amount of saturated fat of any plant oil.
  2. It’s high in heart-healthy fats: Canola oil is not only high in unsaturated fat, but it’s also higher in omega-3 fatty acids than any other oil, except for flaxseed oil.
  3. It has a mild taste: Unlike other plant oils, such as olive, avocado, sesame seed and peanut, canola oil has a mild flavor, so it works in a wide variety of dishes.
  4. It has a high smoke point: Canola oil performs well even under high heat, so it’s great for cooking, especially when it comes to recipes that require searing. Olive and avocado oils, on the other hand, degrade when exposed to high heat.

A Versatile Oil

Whether you’re cooking with high heat or baking tasty treats, canola oil is among the most versatile oils you can choose, and among the healthiest, too. This light-colored, mild-flavored oil is ideal in myriad dishes. Here are a few favorites:

The take-home message for your food preparation adventures: Canola oil is a healthy, versatile oil that should be welcome in any of your signature dishes.


To find a registered dietitian at Henry Ford, visit henryford.com or call 1-800-HENRYFORD (436-7936).

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Bethany Thayer, MS, RDN, is the director of the Henry Ford Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. Learn more about Bethany.

Categories: EatWell

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