Canola in diets
Nutrition experts recognize canola oil as having the best fatty acid ratio. Canola oil has the lowest level of saturated fat (6 percent), it is relatively high in monounsaturated fat (58 percent), and canola oil has a moderate level of polyunsaturated fat (36 percent.)
Health practitioners and dietitians have praised the fatty acid profile of canola, labeling it the oil with the best fatty acid ratio. Research indicates the fatty acid composition of canola oil is most favorable in terms of health benefits and as a part of a nutritionally balanced diet.
Canola is not rapeseed
Rapeseed is not a word that can be used in the place of canola. Canola was genetically altered from rapeseed in the early 1970's and has a different chemical composition. There are strict quality standards governing canola and products which do not meet government standards cannot use this trademarked term.
Canola oil versus vegatable oil
Some food products labeled "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.
Today's dietary guidelines require a reduction of saturated fat. Research studies have shown a link between saturated fat and increased serum cholesterol which, in turn, is associated with increased coronary heart disease risk. Canola oil has the lowest level of saturated fat (6%) compared to all other oils on the market today.
Canola oil is high (58%) in the monounsaturated fatty acid oleic acid. Oleic acid has been shown to reduce serum cholesterol levels and LDL cholesterol levels. Oleic acid does not affect levels of HDL cholesterol.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential for humans, as they cannot be synthesized in the body and must be supplied through the diet. Canola oil contains a moderate level (26%) of the polyunsaturated fatty acid linoleic acid and an appreciable amount (10%) of alphalinolenic acid.
Alpha-linolenic acid has been shown to be effective in lowering serum triglyceride levels as well as in reducing platelet aggregation and increasing blood clotting time. These anti-blood clotting effects play an important role in the reduction of coronary heart disease.
Canola oil extraction
Step 1. The first stage in processing canola is to roll or flake the seed. This ruptures cells and makes the oil easier to extract.
Step 2. Next the flaked or rolled seeds are cooked and subject to a mild pressing process which removes some of the oil and compresses the seeds into large chunks called "cake fragments".
Step 3. The cake fragments undergo further processing to remove most of the remaining oil. The oil extracted during each step is combined.
The oil is then subject to processing according to end product requirements. Different treatments are used to process salad oils, margarines, and shortenings.
Canola oil products legislation
Canola oil received Generally Recognized as Safe status in the United States in 1985, which has opened the doors into the American marketplace for canola oil and canola oil products.
Canadian canola oil must meet strict quality standards determined by government health agencies before being used as or in a food product. Consumers can, therefore, associate quality with canola and rely on continued excellence in their canola oil.
*Facts About Canola Oil gathered from the Canola Council of Canada
Canola is an oilseed crop which is grown primarily in regions of Western Canada, with some acreage being planted in the Pacific north-west and north central United States.
Each canola plant produces yellow flowers which, in turn, produce pods; similar in shape to pea pods but about 1/5th the size.
Within the pods are tiny round seeds that are crushed to obtain canola oil.
Each seed contains approximately 40 percent oil. The remainder of the seed is processed into canola meal which is used as a high protein livestock feed.
Canola oil has received two awards:
"Product Acceptance Award" American College of Nutrition
"Health Product of the Year Award" American Health Foundation