Canola Oil: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

April 2021

One of the most contested oils in the culinary world, canola oil has been a popular substitute for other cooking oils with some negative connotations. But is it as bad as you think?

In this article, we'll take a closer look at canola oil to see what all the confusion is about and why people discuss it on online forums. We'll also examine where you find canola oil and how it stacks up against its competition - namely, olive oil and sunflower seed oil. Read on to discover whether this controversial cooking ingredient is really all that bad!

Canola Oil Produces Fewer Anti Nutrients Than Other Cooking Oils

One of the biggest debates among cooks and nutritionists is whether canola oil is better than olive oil or sunflower seed oil for your diet. The debate stems from a false notion that canola oil contains a large amount of anti-nutrients. But in fact, it's the other way around; canola oil has fewer anti-nutrients than other oils.

What are anti-nutrients? In short, these are waste products created by digestion and metabolism that are harmful to our health when consumed in large quantities. Some of the most common anti-nutrients in our diet include phytic acid, lectins, saponins and goitrogens. These compounds can cause a number of different health issues when consumed in large quantities, including bloating, gallstones and indigestion. They're produced by all living organisms as part of the body's natural metabolic process, so it's not surprising that we also consume them in large amounts from our food sources.

While everyone needs to watch their intake of these anti-nutrients to some degree, people suffering from certain conditions or those looking to improve their overall health should take special care to reduce their intake. Many of the countries where phytic acid is a major nutritional concern are also areas where canola oil is heavily consumed. Countries like Canada, Finland and Sweden have all reported high amounts of phytic acid in their population per capita; these are also countries where canola oil consumption is a common practice.

Is Canola Oil Bad? How it stacks up Against Other Cooking Oils

If you're looking for an alternative to olive or sunflower seed oil, canola oil may be the one for you. A lot of vegetable oils are touted as health foods, but canola oil, in particular, has a complicated history with regards to its reputation. So what’s the deal? Is it healthy or not?

The answer is a bit complicated. Canola oil does contain some vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids, however the same properties that make it good for cooking also make it unstable when heated. And while consumption of omega-6 fatty acids do not lead to increased risk of heart disease in healthy individuals, they are still capable of raising "bad" LDL cholesterol levels and may be pro-inflammatory when consumed excessively over time.

One of the biggest controversies surrounding canola oil is the fact that it’s extremely high in erucic acid. Erucic acid is a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid which, if consumed in large quantities over time, can cause heart lesions, arrhythmia, and even sudden death. While canola oil does not contain significant amounts of erucic acid (the amount is usually below 2%), some studies have shown that canola and other vegetable oils may contain traces of it due to a manufacturing process known as deodorization.

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