When choosing between olive oil and canola oil, we often get confused. Many health-conscious people firmly believe that olive oil is the best pick, while others find canola oil a better option. If you consider both of these oils, you will be surprised to see how the similarities and dissimilarities change with consideration. It is essential to understand the differences 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 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, the fruits of a typical 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%). In addition, it contains other fatty acids in very small amounts, such as linoleic acid (21%), palmitic acid (20%), etc. There are different types of olive oil, including virgin olive oil, extra virgin olive oil, extra light olive oil, etc. It is primarily used in cooking, soap, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.
About Canola Oil
Canola oil is 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 acids 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.
Olive Oil Vs. Canola Oil – The Comparison
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 and the time of harvesting rather than the quality of the oil. But the color of canola oil is a very light shade of yellow. Being a refined oil, its color is also pretty clear and consistent.
2. Flavor And Aroma
Extra virgin olive oil has a great taste profile due to its fantastic flavor and aroma of fresh olives. However, olive oils become less aromatic and less flavorful as they get refined, making their taste profiles less reliable. On the other hand, Canola oil 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 various grades and many features. This premium nature makes it a more expensive choice even than the premium and non-GMO versions of canola oil.
4. Health Benefits
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 are almost three times higher than canola oil. Being low in cholesterol, olive oil also helps increase the amount of good cholesterol (HDL) in our body and reduce the bad cholesterol (LDL). However, saturated fats or bad fats are slightly higher than canola oil (only 6%).
On the other hand, canola oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids, making it an excellent choice for our heart. In addition, the monounsaturated fat content in this oil is also much higher than olive oil. Therefore, it is effective in lowering our blood cholesterol too.
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. Therefore, 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 is that several 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. 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 been mainly ignored. But recent studies are proving that olive oil needs to be consumed in small proportions. Likewise, the ill effects of canola oil are also not entirely true.
The debate about canola oil and olive oil is old and unlikely to be resolved any time soon. So, as an informed consumer, which oil would you opt for?