There is a debate as to which is healthier, olive oil or canola oil. There are big differences with both of these cooking oils and some of these differences might surprise you. Learn about the differences between canola oil and olive oil and you can decide which the healthier oil is.
There is a debate concerning which oil is healthier for us, olive oil or canola oil. Some people do not trust canola while others do not believe the health benefits of olive oil. A lot of people like to say sunflower oil comes from sunflowers, olive oil comes from olives and peanut oil comes from peanuts, but there is no canola plant so it must not be natural. There are a lot of suspicions about canola oil.
Facts about Canola Oil
There are some odd myths about canola oil and there are some disturbing truths about canola oil. First of all, mustard gas that has been used in various wars is not made from the same plant as canola oil or rapeseed.
Canola oil is made from the rapeseed plant. Rapeseed oil has been used for thousands of years in India, Japan and China. Rapeseed oil contains erucic acid which is thought to cause fibrotic lesions of the heart, known as Keshan’s disease.
During the late 1970s, Canadian scientists used gene splitting techniques and genetic manipulation to come up with a rapeseed variety that produced monounsaturated oil that was low in erucic acid and high in oleic acid. Oleic acid is the main fatty acid in omega-9 fatty acids. This new cooking oil was dubbed Low Erucic Acid Rapeseed or LEAR. The name was later changed to canola, which stands for Canadian Oil – Low Acid. In 1989, the FDA approved canola oil on the condition that the eurcic acid did not exceed 2%.
There are rumors that the Canadian government paid the FDA a sum of $50 million for the FDA to bypass the usual health studies for this new canola oil and give it GRAS status or “generally regarded as safe”.
Canola oil is 62% oleic acid (omega-9), 22% omega-6, 10% omega-3, 6% saturated fats and 124 calories per tablespoon.
Pros of Canola Oil
- Canola oil has a healthier omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 2.3:1.
- Has less saturated fat than olive oil. For this reason, the FDA has allowed manufacturers of canola oil to put the qualified health claim on their labels.
Cons of Canola Oil
- Most of the seeds that are grown for canola oil are GMO seeds by Monsanto. The seeds are the RoundUp Ready GMO seeds.
- A Canadian study using piglets found that canola oil depleted the piglets of vitamin E and in some cases to dangerously low levels. It has not been found out why canola oil increases the demand for vitamin E .
- Canola oil is banned in the United States for use in infant formulas because not enough is known about canola oil and newborns.
- Other studies have found that canola oil might retard growth.
- Foods that are baked using canola oil can get moldy quicker.
- Canola oil can go rancid quickly because of its high sulphur content.
- There are numerous reports that because of the deodorizing process that canola oil goes through during its processing, the omega-3 fatty acids actually turn into trans-fats.
Facts about Olive Oil
Olive oil has been used for thousands of years and is associated with the healthy Mediterranean diet. Many proponents of the Mediterranean diet believe the health benefits comes from the olive oil, while others believe the health benefits are a combination of the olive oil, vegetables, whole grains and fish.
According to the USDA, olive oil breaks down as 77% monounsaturated oil, 8% omega-6, 1% omega-3, 14% saturated fat and 124 calories per tablespoon.
The Pros of Olive Oil
- Olive oil has polyphenols which are potent antioxidants.
- A recent study found that extra virgin olive oil has strong tumor killing effects on HER-2 breast cancer cells .
- Olive oil is very high in monounsaturated fats (MUFA) which are considered the healthy fats.
- Of the cooking oils, olive oil has the highest amount of oleic acid, the main fatty acid in omega-9.
- You do not have to worry about GMO olive oil.
The Cons of Olive Oil
Dr. Dean Ornish, respected doctor and diet author shocked most people when he came out in favor of canola oil over olive oil. His main reasoning was that canola oil was lower in saturated fat than olive oil.
This item can just as easily be in the pro-canola oil category as well. The Vogel study caused many to believe olive oil was not the health food we thought it was. Dr. Robert Vogel fed 10 participants different meals and checked their pre-meal and post-meal blood flow (flow-mediated vasodilation or FMD). The meals consisted of fat from olive oil, canola oil or salmon oil. The study found that blood flow was reduced by 31% after the olive oil meal, but was not reduced after the canola or salmon oil meals .
This study concluded that the benefits of the Mediterranean diet come from the antioxidants in the vegetables and possibly the protective effects of the omega-3 fatty acids in the fish more so than the olive oil alone.
There is distrust of canola oil, mainly because it is viewed as a manmade unnatural food and what rapeseed oil used to be before the genetic version. The study finding that canola depletes vitamin E is worrisome. Canola being mainly GMO does not help the reputation for canola oil either.
There are no odd suspicions with olive oil. It is known for what it has been for years and that is a healthy part of our diet. Like so many healthy parts of a healthy diet, it takes more than just one piece. Olive oil can be healthy in moderation and should be combined with other healthy foods like vegetables and fish.
Copyright © Sam Montana 2012
 ScienceDirect.com - Additional Vitamin E Required in Milk Replacer Diets that Contain Canola Oil
 NaturalNews.com - New Study Finds Olive Oil Effective against HER-2 Breast Cancer
 Readers Digest - The Great Olive Oil Misconception — Dr. Ornish Responds
 JACC - The postprandial effect of components of the Mediterranean diet on endothelial function. J Am Coll Cardiol, 2000; 36:1455-1460