The health benefits of canola oil include its ability to improve heart health, lower cholesterol, protect the skin, strengthen cell membranes, boost energy levels, reduces the risk of cancer, keeps the brain functioning at a high level, and prevents diabetes.
Canola oil is a type of edible cooking oil that most commonly comes from varieties of the rape plant. It also comes from certain varieties of mustard seed. For this reason, canola oil is known in certain areas of the world as rapeseed oil, and typically comes in two varieties, Rapeseed 00 and Double Zero Rapeseed. The name rapeseed (canola) is derived from the Latin root rapum, which means turnip. Turnips, cabbage, rutabaga, and other similar plants are closely related to the two common cultivars of canola oil that are most widely produced and used today. It has been used as a fuel for thousands of years by various cultures throughout history.
Although it is frequently thought of as a Canadian crop, the United States has also become a huge producer and consumer of the crop. The annual production of rapeseed oil/canola oil from around the world is approximately 58 million tons. With the exception of sunflower and safflower oil, canola oil has the highest content of monounsaturated fats among vegetable oils.
There is a wide variety of uses for canola oil, just like with soybean oil. It is a functional fuel that is a good replacement for non-renewable resources, such as the petroleum oils used in lipsticks, candles, biofuels, lubricants, and inks. However, as a vegetable oil for cooking, canola oil can provide users with many health benefits that other oils simply cannot provide. Some of these valuable health benefits are explained below.
Health Benefits of Canola Oil
Health benefits of canola oil include:
Lower Cholesterol: Canola oil contains absolutely no cholesterol, which is a major benefit for those people who have struggled with cholesterol issues in the past, as well as the conditions that naturally come with high cholesterol. Cholesterol can clog your arteries and put excessive strain on your cardiovascular system. Cholesterol has been shown to be a major contributor to atherosclerosis, which can result in heart attacks and strokes.
Overall Heart Health: Omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids are both present in canola oil, and while those are often considered “good” and “bad” cholesterol, respectively. The body needs both, even though one is considered “unhealthy”. The ratio is 2:1, which is one of the healthiest ratios of any vegetable oil, even healthier than olive oil. Sterols are also found in rich supply in canola oil. The phytosterols that are found in canola oil can actually reduce the creation and absorption of cholesterol that you may get from other foods. Therefore, not only does canola oil contain no cholesterol, it can actually reduce your cholesterol levels by 10-15%.
Skin Health: Canola oil, like many vegetable oils, is rich in vitamin E, which is an essential vitamin for the body for various reasons. Vitamin E is very effective as an antioxidant, and is able to protect the skin from the damaging effects of free radicals. This can keep your skin supple and smooth, increase the healing rate of injuries, reduce the appearance of blemishes and acne marks, and slow down the appearance of wrinkles. Free radicals, which vitamin E can neutralize, are some of the most dangerous components in the body that affect the appearance of the skin, so canola oil is a logical choice if you want to look young and beautiful well into your old age.
Cell Membranes: Vitamin E is also a lipid-soluble antioxidant, meaning that it can help protect the integrity of cell membranes throughout the body. Mucus membranes are important for protecting our body from foreign substances and form an important part of our immune system.
Energy Levels: The low amount of cholesterol and the high amount of important antioxidants can help the body’s metabolism move at a normal rate. Your body doesn’t become sluggish and your energy isn’t sapped by slow circulation or an overstressed cardiovascular system.
Cancer Risk: Antioxidants, like vitamin E, are very effective against cancer. Free radicals cause healthy cells to mutate into cancerous cells, so having high levels of vitamin E in your diet, such as the content found in canola oil, can greatly reduce your chances of contracting cancer, and it is also a wonderful way to slow down the progression once cancer has presented itself.
Brain Function: Cognitive functions commonly appear as we get older, manifested in conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The antioxidants that combat free radicals also prevent damage to the brain, which can shut down neural connections and lead to these dangerous conditions.
Diabetes: Monounsaturated fats not only help to prevent heart disease, but they can also help to maintain glucose levels in the blood. This means that the chances of developing diabetes is far smaller, since glucose levels are kept in balance. The metabolism of the body keeps glucose and insulin levels in line, so even if you do suffer from diabetes, you are less likely to suffer from spikes and drops in blood sugar that are so dangerous to people with diabetes.
A Final Word of Caution: There have been plenty of critiques of canola oil, since the processing can often remove the beneficial aspects of canola oil. Also, there has been some evidence that the omega-3 fatty acid content is lowered during this processing. Finally, erucic acid that is thought to be in low levels in most canola oil may be higher than originally expected. Basically, speak to your medical professional before switching anything in your diet, and be sure that the benefits of canola oil are what you are seeking in your healthy eating choices.