‘Cooking’ and ‘oil’ go hand in hand. Derived from the flora kingdom of nature, oils play a crucial role in enhancing the moisture and flavor of our cooked food. There are many oils, and they contain fats in different amounts. Hence, it is essential to know about your cooking oil’s fats to make your diet healthy. Canola oil and vegetable oil are two cooking options that often confuse us with their almost similar nutritional and health attributes. Therefore, we have covered you if you are also trying to determine which one is good for your health – canola oil or vegetable oil.
How Does Cooking Oil Impact Your Health?
The health quotient of your cooking oil entirely depends on the types of fats it comprises. There are, essentially, two types of fat – good and bad. Surprised? Yes, that’s true. Good fats are known to lower your LDL or harmful cholesterol levels while boosting your HDL or good cholesterol levels. Healthy cooking oil also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are the ‘good fats’ effective in reducing cardiovascular mortality. Conversely, when your cooking oil is high in bad fats, it increases LDL levels and decreases HDL levels in your body. Unfortunately, these fats also add to the negative health impacts of the oils and interfere with the benefits offered by omega-3 fatty acids.
What Is Vegetable Oil?
Vegetable Oil is a generic oil containing pure triglycerides obtained from plants. It is a blend of various oils with a neutral flavor and different fat ratios (monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, saturated fat, etc.). There are multiple types of vegetable oils used for cooking, industrial, and medicinal purposes. Coconut oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, sesame oil, corn oil, cashew oil, walnut oil, etc., are to name a few. Being an inexpensive choice, most people use vegetable oils in cooking every day. However, you are consistently less likely to have an idea about what exactly is included in your oil (types of plant, ways of extraction, methods of processing, etc.). As a result, you have no control over the types of fats you are consuming.
What Is Canola Oil?
Canola oil is a vegetable oil extracted from ‘canola’ or rapeseeds containing less than 2% erucic acid. It is essentially crossbred or produced from genetically modified (GMO) plants, often contributing to its bad reputation. While GMOs themselves are not unhealthy, the chemicals sprayed on them cause harm to us. However, canola oil is low in saturated fats and high in monounsaturated fats. This helps us take reasonable control over our fat consumption. In addition, it has a neutral taste and can be heated to multiple temperature levels, which is also favorable to cooking.
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Which Is Healthier: Canola Oil Or Vegetable Oil?
Both canola oil and vegetable oil look and feel similar to each other. Their taste and usage are also alike. But there are specific nutritional and health differences that make one of them better than the other. (1) (2) (3)
Most vegetable oils are combinations of unspecified components extracted from plants by chemical processes. This poses you at risk of severe health complications. It has been found that corn oil, one of the most used vegetable oils, is relatively high in omega-6 fatty acids. Excessive and prolonged intake of this may result in heart ailments. But, at the same time, vegetable oil can speed up metabolism and lower the risk of breast cancer. In short, moderation is essential for cooking with vegetable oil.
On the other hand, canola oil is considered a much healthier option due to the presence of omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats in its constitution. These components have been scientifically proved to lower cholesterol and promote heart health. Canola oil comes third among heart-healthy oils, right after olive oil and sunflower oil. Though canola oil also contains omega-6 fatty acids, the proportion is relatively low compared to vegetable oils. It is low in unhealthy saturated fats too. However, it is advised that you consume canola oil in moderation too.
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Neither canola oil nor vegetable oil is perfect for your health. None of them is incredibly harmful to you too. But when it comes to choosing a healthy cooking oil, varieties that come loaded with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats with lower levels of saturated fats are always the best.
Therefore, a great way to keep your diet healthy is to substitute vegetable oil with canola oil. It is a health-healthy oil with a better composition of fat.
This can keep you away from several heart diseases, which is essential to stay fit in the long run. Replace margarine and butter in your recipes with a dash of canola oil, use it in salad dressings or marinades, and consider it as the perfect grease for non-stick baking. This way, you can significantly cut down your saturated fat intake and incorporate healthy fats into your diet.
However, if you use your cooking oil for frying food ingredients, make sure that you use vegetable oil. Exposure to prolonged heat often damages the beneficial fatty acids in canola oil. This affects the safety of the oil and makes it unhealthy for you. In such situations, using vegetable oil is a wise choice, indeed.
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Did You Know?
Cooking oils go rancid if not stored the right way in the right place. Exposure to oxygen breaks down the peroxides in oils, which leads to an awkward smell and a bad taste. This also generates more free radicals over time, damaging cells and causing cancer. Hence, you should wrap your cooking oil bottles in aluminum foils and store them in a cool, dry place.
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