Canola is actually a cultivar of rapeseed plant, which is a member of the mustard family. The plant was originally developed by cross breeding the rapeseed plant, mainly to produce edible oil from its seeds. This is because, the oil obtained from the rapeseed oil is found to contain erucic acid, which in high levels is found to be toxic to humans. This is the reason why the rapeseed oil, which has been used in many parts of the world, mainly in India, China and Japan was declared unfit for human consumption.
In the subsequent period, canola plant was developed by cross breeding the rapeseed plant. The oil derived from the seeds of such canola or genetically engineered rapeseed plant has been found to contain much lower level of erucic acid and hence considered suitable for human consumption. Eventually, several studies have revealed that canola oil contain some important nutrients, required for human health. So, let’s take a brief look at canola oil and its nutrition facts, calories in canola oil, as well as its health benefits and some possible side effects.
Canola Oil Nutrition Facts
Canola oil has been found to contain some essential fatty acids, which can have beneficial effects on the heart and cardiovascular system. About 218 g of canola oil contains 16 g of saturated fats, 61.2 g of polyunsaturated fats, 137. 9 g of monounsaturated fats and 0.9 g of trans fats. The same amount of canola oil can provide about 1927 calories. Apart from these, omega-3 essential fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids are other important canola oil nutrients.
Much of the known benefits of canola oil can be attributed to the presence of high levels of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Unsaturated fatty acids are known for their beneficial effects on human heart. These fatty acids are known to reduce the risk for heart and cardiovascular diseases. Again, canola oil can provide significant amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, that may increase the level of good HDL cholesterol in the body. These essential oils may also improve immune functions and promote brain health.
Canola oil does contain a small quantity of saturated fats, which is much lower than what is found in many other cooking oils. This is the reason why, canola oil is considered as a superior oil than many other commonly used cooking oils. However, canola oil and its benefits have encountered severe criticism. The oil and its entire manufacturing process has become a subject of debate, some praising the oil for its health benefits, while others pointing out some serious possible side effects.
Dangers of Canola Oil
Canola oil is mainly criticized for being derived from a hybrid of rapeseed plant, which is known to contain the erucic acid. This is the reason why this oil is seen with suspicion, as it too contains erucic acid, though in much lesser amount. Another point of debate is the presence of trans fats in canola oil, which is believed to have an association with the increased risk for cancer and heart disease.
Additionally, some critics have pointed out that the entire manufacturing process for extracting canola oil is quite complex and involves the use of solvents like, hexane. It is suspected by many that the traces of this solvent may be present even after considerable refining, which can have adverse effects on human health. It is even argued that the manufacturing process can also alter the content of omega-3 fatty acids, to which much of the health benefits of this oil has been attributed.
To sum up, canola oil nutrition facts and safety has become a controversial issue with no definite answer. While the manufacturers and marketers highlight the nutrition facts, critics present quite a dark picture of some serious possible side effects of this oil. The result of all these controversies is that, consumers are yet to know the truth about this much hyped canola oil and its benefits or side effects.