It’s the age-old question for dieters and people who care about their health: Which is the healthiest cooking oil? Which is the best for our heart? In this article, Beauty and Tips compares canola oil vs olive oil to help you make a healthier dietary choice.
Ask anyone who really cares about their health or diet what oil they cook with, and they’ll answer pretty confidently.
However, what you’ll get will be different answers from different people:
“I use canola oil, of course.” Or: “Darling, I use olive oil. What a silly question! As if you had to ask! Wait … don’t tell me you aren’t using olive oil?!”
The thing is that, as anyone who really cares about their health or diet will also tell you, canola oil and olive oil have some strike similarities.
So which is best? First, let’s take a look at each oil separately:
What is Canola Oil?
Canola oil is a cooking oil that is derived from the rape plant. Produced via genetic modification, it comes from variations of mustard seed.
Because of its genetic modification origins, it’s steeped in a bit more controversy than olive oil, with rumours flying around that it may even be a tad toxic.
Studies on this are still ongoing, but since many people around the world use it safely without any obvious side effects, it’s pointless to subscribe to the belief that it can can cause us any harm.
In fact, as we’ll find out, canola oil brings us lots of awesome health benefits.
Canola oil is more generally known as rapeseed oil, and it’s available in two types:
Double Zero Rapeseed
The name canola is taken from a Latin root word that actually means turnip. As well as turnips, cabbages are closely related to this oil, an oil that people from certain cultures have been cooking with for thousands of years.
Normally believed to be a Canadian crop, the U.S. also produces a lot of it in modern times, and the annual production of canola oil stands at 58,000,000 tons. It’s pretty popular then!
Canola oil has the third highest amount of monounsaturated fats. It also contains vitamin E and K, polyunsaturated fatty acids and lipid. Meanwhile, it contains zero cholesterol.
What are Canola oil health benefits?
Canola Oil Can Lower Cholesterol
High cholesterol levels are very bad news. They can lead to heart disease, which is now the biggest killer of American adults.
Canola oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, as well as omega-6 fatty acids. True, omega-6 fatty acids are considered to be bad fats, but your body still needs them. Moreover, canola oil contains these two fats in a 2:1 ratio in favour of omega-3’s, which is a healthier ratio than olive oil. Win.
Canola oil contains sterols, too, and this is important because sterols help to lower our cholesterol levels.
Then there’s the fact that canola oil is rich in phytosterols, which prevents your body from even absorbing cholesterol in the first place.
Finally, canola oil contains no cholesterol at all and can lower your cholesterol levels by as much as 15%.
This is all important stuff, because surely one of the reason a lot of people are reading this article is to find the best cooking oil for their heart.
After all, we’ve heard the stories that certain cooking oils are rich in bad fats and that bad fats contribute to heart disease. Because canola oil contains zero cholesterol, it’s very good for your heart.
Canola Oil Gives You a Boost In Energy
Who couldn’t do with more energy? When 3pm comes around, all we want to do is fall asleep in the office.
And saturday mornings? Do we have to even leave the bed at all?
The thing is that energy comes from food, which means that if you consume the right food, you’ll have more energy. It’s basic math.
Take canola oil, for example. Because it’s rich in antioxidants, canola oil to boost your metabolism, so that you have more energy.
A slow functioning metabolism – which can happen if you eat the wrong foods – slows us down and makes us feel sluggish. Cook with canola oil more often and your cardiovascular system is less stressed, your circulation is faster and you feel more energetic and ready to seize the day.
Canola Oil Looks After Your Skin and Slows the Ageing Process
There surely isn’t a woman alive who doesn’t care about her skin, and while most of us can accept that we have to get older eventually, what we won’t tolerate is looking older before our time.
However, for some women, premature ageing is a struggle that is very real. What causes it? Two words: Free radicals.
Free radicals are pests. They’re rogue molecules that are intent on one thing only – destroying you! They speed up the ageing process by getting under your skin (literally), causing it to sag, and causing wrinkles and dark circles to form.
Canola oil can save the day because it’s rich in vitamin E, a key vitamin that neutralises free radicals, thus preventing them from carrying out their dirty deeds. It protects your skin, can treat skin conditions, such as acne and eczema, and it restores your skin to its former supple, smooth and youthful glory.
Canola Oil Boosts Cognitive Performance
Nope, you won’t hear a friend say, “I cook with canola oil because it makes me as smart as Einstein,” but canola oil does boost brain function, and this is very important for your long term health.
Over the long term, our cognitive functions steadily decline. The older we get, the less sharp we might be.
This is certainly not going to be true for everyone, of course, but it’s true for most of us. The reality is that free radicals slow us down as the years pass.
Worse still, as we get older we’re at greater risk of dementia.
The antioxidants in canola oil can prevent cognitive decline, increase our mental sharpness, and reduce our risk of developing dementia.
All sounds pretty good, huh? But what about olive oil? Let’s take a look!
What about Olive Oil?
As you’ve probably heard, olive oil is pretty popular in the Mediterranean diet. They love it loads!
But what actually is it?
It’s essentially a fat that’s taken from the fruit of the olive tree, a tree that’s native to the Mediterranean region.
Once turned into on oil, it’s typically used for medicinal purposes, cosmetic purposes and, of course, cooking purposes.
Less commonly, it’s also used to fuel lamps in the mediterranean region.
For centuries, olive oil came exclusively from the Mediterranean, but it’s now used all over the world. People use the oil to cook with, but also as a salad dressing or as a dip for bread. Scrumptious!
What are benefits of cooking with olive oil?
Olive Oil Is Rich In Good Fats
Olive oil is a fat and does contain both good and bad fats. But it’s essentially rich in plenty of good fats that are otherwise known as monounsaturated fats. This is the main fat in olive oil and it help to reduce your cholesterol levels. This is good news because lower cholesterol means your arteries aren’t so clogged anymore. And when your arteries aren’t as clogged, your risk of developing heart disease is reduced.
Because heart disease is now the biggest killer of American adults, we could all probably do with a bit more olive oil in our lives.
Olive Oil Can Prevent High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure – which is also known as hypertension – is very dangerous. In fact, it can lead to heart disease, a disability or a heart attack. Not cool at all.
Many people leave their high blood pressure alone, doing nothing to reverse it. Half the people who do this go on to die of heart disease.
It’s scary stuff, but high blood pressure can be brought down by a change in our lifestyle and diet.
Olive oil can help because of its omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acids help to look after your heart, lowering your blood pressure and giving you a better quality of life.
Olive Oil Is Rich In Antioxidants
Olive oil contains some really powerful antioxidants, such as phenolic compounds, carotenoids and vitamin E.
Why are antioxidants so important? Antioxidants relieve oxidant stress and help to eliminate free radicals from your body. Free radicals are rogue molecules that are intent on causing as much damage as possible. They can cause milder conditions like acne, but they can also cause cancer.
Olive Oil Can Treat Depression
Got a bad case of the blues? Olive oil can help to life your sprits. According to a study, people who consume more olive oil are at a lower risk of suffering from some sort of mental illness.
Comparison of Canola Oil vs Olive Oil
Now that we’ve taken a look at each oil individually, let’s see how they fare against one another.
Canola Oil and Olive Oil are Manufactured Differently
The way the two oils are manufactured is different, and this can have an effect on their health benefit.
Olive oil is, as you probably knew, made from olives, which come from the olive tree. They’re crushed, pressed and their juices are turned into olive oil.
Usually, olive oil is pressed at colder temperatures, so that its nutritional integrity is held in tact. As such, we call these types of oils “cold pressed.”
One question you might have is why there are different types of olive oil on sale. For example, there is extra virgin olive oil, which contains more nutrients because it’s collected from the first pressing.
Virgin olive oil, on the other hand, is collected from the second pressing, while pure olive oils are collected from any subsequent pressings.
Canola oil, meanwhile, is manufactured at much high temperature. Its mechanical process involves toxic chemicals, such as hexane. This oil is deodorised, degummed, bleached and refined at really high temperatures.
The problem with manufacturing oils at a high temperature is that it can alter the oil’s omega-3 content, while raising its concentration of bad fats.
Canola Oil Contains Less Nutrients Than Olive Oil
Olive oil contains more nutrients than canola oil, which alone makes it the healthier oil.
Extra virgin olive oil, for example, contains lots of omega-3 fatty acids, polyphenols and antioxidants that protect your heart and look after your immune system. These nutrients can also greatly reduce your risk of developing cancer.
Olive oil has also been shown to prevent diabetes by regulating blood sugar level. It’s also anti-inflammatory and can help to soothe the symptoms associated with osteoporosis and arthritis.
But Canola Oil Is SO Good For Your Heart
While olive oil contains more nutrients and is obviously beneficial for your health at large, canola oil is really protective of your heart.
It contains few saturated fats (although some variants will contain more than others, so alway read the label first, and it is rich in monounsaturated fat, especially omega-3s and omega-6 fatty acids.
And What About Taste?!
Okay, bonus question: Which tastes better? Canola oil or olive oil?
We all want to choose the healthiest oil, of course, but it helps if it tastes good too, right?!
Taste-wise, canola oil is good for baking and cooking but it’s a bit insipid.
Olive oil, on the other hand, has such a strong taste that lots of people use it as a dip for bread. However, its strong taste can also be its undoing because not everyone is going to like it.
Conclusion? Because olive oil is super rich in nutrients, it’s technically the healthier oil. But if you care about your heart more than anything else, canola oil is the one to go for.
If you’re looking at this from a purely cooking standpoint, canola oil is the one to go for. It might not be overall as healthy as olive oil, but it’s still healthy and it’s better to cook with.