Choosing the right kind of cooking oil has never been easy, no matter what part of the world you live in. Whether you are cooking grilled chicken or baking a chocolate chip cake, using oil is inevitable, in most cases. After all, choosing the right cooking oil is important for your heart and health. Oil Technologist, Dr. Amit Pratap, who is Assistant Professor, Department of Oils, Oleochemicals and Surfactants Technology at the Institute of Chemical Technology shares 10 lesser-known facts about canola oil.
The source: It is produced from the seeds of the canola plant. Once harvested, canola seeds are taken to a crushing facility, where the oil contained within the seed is extracted, refined and bottled as canola oil. The leftover material, known as canola meal, is then used as a protein source in animal feed. The average canola seed consists of 45 per cent oil.
It is a type of vegetable oil: Some food products labelled ‘vegetable oil’ may contain canola oil. ‘Vegetable oil’ on a label allows a food manufacturer to substitute or combine oils without having to change the product label. A popular U.S. consumer magazine, Cooking Light, now specifically recommends canola oil instead of vegetable oil in its recipes. Many other cookbook authors, food writers and publications are following suit.
Healthy for the heart: It has the least-saturated fat of any common cooking oil. In fact, it has less than half the saturated fat of olive or soybean oil. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized a qualified health claim for canola oil’s ability to reduce the risk of heart disease, when used in place of saturated fat.
Ideal for any type of cooking: From salad dressings to sautéing, canola oil’s neutral taste and light texture makes it a great match for just about everything. Its high-heat tolerance means you can use canola oil for anything-from baking to stir-frying to deep-frying or grilling.
Used around the world: It is the number one vegetable oil in Canada and Japan, while number two in Mexico and the United States. Overall, it is the third most-consumed vegetable oil in the world.
Global need for healthier foods: With worldwide health issues like cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, a simple change like using healthier cooking oil can make a significant difference.
Healthy cooking oil: Dietary fat, in moderation, is needed to provide energy and help absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Certain fats such as omega-3 and omega-6 fats are essential for good nutrition and must be consumed as part of a healthy diet.
Canola oil provides more of the healthy fats than any other popular common cooking and salad oils. With its low, saturated fat level, excellent balance of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, its versatility and light taste, canola oil has found an important place in the world’s kitchens, food products and restaurants.
Fats in Canola oil: Fats are made of smaller units called fatty acids. Canola oil is low in saturated fat-7 per cent of total fatty acids. This is lower than any other common cooking oil or salad oil. It is rich in monosaturated fat-61 per cent of total fatty acids-and is cholesterol and trans-fat free.
Reduce the risk of Coronary Heart Disease: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized, in October 2006, a qualified health claim for canola oil based on its high percentage of unsaturated fats. The claim states:
“Limited and not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that eating about one and a half 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.”
Packaged foods: Companies that sell packaged foods do not disclose information about the oil used in their products. Since canola oil is low in saturated fat level, using it in daily cooking may not necessarily result in heart-prone diseases. Most of the packaged foods carry a warning, Adequate Exercise Required.