When it comes to choosing between olive oil and canola oil, we often get confused. Lots of health-conscious people firmly believe that olive oil is the best pick while others find canola oil to be a greater option. If you consider both of these oils, you will be pretty surprised to see how the similarities and dissimilarities between them change with the perspectives of consideration. It is essential to understand the objective differences between them in order to make an educated choice. Hence, we have come up with a comparative guide for you. Know which one is better – olive oil or canola oil.
Before jumping into the differences between olive oil and canola oil and coming to a conclusion about which one is healthier, let us know a bit more about them.
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About Olive Oil
Olive oil has gained higher popularity around the world than canola oil. It is a liquid fat derived from cold pressed whole olives, which are the fruits of a common Mediterranean plant Olea Europaea. Though the composition of the golden-colored oil varies widely, it is typically very high in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), especially oleic acid (83%). It also contains other fatty acids, such as linoleic acid (21%), palmitic acid (20%), etc. in very small amounts. There are different types of olive oil including virgin olive oil, extra virgin olive oil, extra light olive oil, and so on. It is mostly used in cooking, soap, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.
About Canola Oil
Canola oil is basically a vegetable oil processed from ‘canola’ at very high temperatures. Canola is the cumulative name for the seeds of certain plants from the Brassicaceae family (mostly Brassica napus, Brassica rapa, or Brassica juncea), which have less than 2% of erucic acid in them. The oil is high in monounsaturated fatty acids and low in saturated fatty acids. It also contains omega-3 fatty acid in a large amount. While you can use canola oil for cooking and baking, it is also widely used as a source of biodiesel.
Earlier versions of canola oil were produced from rapeseeds and loaded with toxic erucic acid, which used to cause fibrous lesions of heart. But today’s canola oil is different from regular rapeseed oil and it does not come with any toxic effect.
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Olive Oil Vs. Canola Oil – The Comparison
Now, let us put olive oil and canola oil side by side in order to find how disparate they actually are. The key contrast points will help you decide on the best fit oil for your health needs.
Typically, olive oil holds a beautiful golden color, which can differ a lot (from light yellow to dark green) based on refining processes, varieties, batches, etc. The more refined the oils are, the lesser color variations can be expected. However, the color determines the types and ripeness of the olives used as well as the time of harvesting rather than the quality of the oil. But the color of canola oil is a very light shade yellow. Being a refined oil, its color is also pretty clear and consistent.
Flavor And Aroma
Extra virgin olive oil has a great taste profile due to its amazing flavor and aroma of fresh olives. However, olive oils become less aromatic and less flavorful as they get refined, which make their taste profiles less reliable too. Canola oil, on the other hand, is a very mild oil with no significant flavor or aroma. Hence, its taste is also almost imperceptible.
Olive oil is a less-industrialized oil with a wide variety of grades and a vast range of features. This premium nature makes it a more expensive choice even than the premium and non-GMO versions of canola oil.
Both olive oil and canola oil are qualitatively safe and healthy. But widely known health attributes of olive oil make it an option well-liked by fitness enthusiasts. The good fats or monounsaturated fats present in it are almost three times higher than that of canola oil. Being low in cholesterol, olive oil also helps in increasing the amount of good cholesterol (HDL) in our body as well as reducing the bad cholesterol (LDL). However, the level of saturated fats or bad fats is also slightly higher in it than canola oil (only 6%). On the other hand, canola oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids, which makes it a great choice for our heart. The monounsaturated fat content in this oil is also much higher than that in olive oil. It is effective in lowering our blood cholesterol too.
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The Myth Vs. The Truth
Ever since canola oil made its mark in the late 1960s, it had been termed as ‘toxic‘ and ‘bad for health’. It was believed to be a GMO (genetically modified organism) crop and hence, quite detrimental to health. But the truth is that canola oil is processed using a special hybrid propagation technique. It is not genetically modified as believed for long.
The widespread belief that canola oil is often used as an industrial lubricant also mars its reputation as a beneficial product. The truth once again is that a number of other vegetable oils, such as soybean oil, corn oil, and flaxseed oil are also used to make several products like detergents, soaps, and paints owing to their inherent properties. Needless to say, this makes them no less beneficial.
The popular belief about olive oil has always been that it is a complete (and healthy) substitute for saturated fats like butter. However, healthcare experts warn that this is untrue!
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Which Is Healthier Alternative?
So, which is the healthier alternative – olive oil or canola oil? The fact is that olive oil has always been accorded a ‘prestigious’ status amongst edible oils while the health benefits of other oils such as canola oil have largely been ignored. But recent studies are proving that olive oil needs to be consumed in small proportions. Likewise, the ill-effects associated with canola oil are also not completely true.
The debate about canola oil and olive oil is old and one unlikely to be resolved any time soon. As an informed consumer, which oil would you opt for?
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