Canola Oil: The Good, The Bad, The Truth

Cooking with oil is a great way to add in some heart-healthy fats to a meal, not to mention the differing additional flavors from the likes of coconut, avocado and olive oils.

In the Plantable kitchen, we primarily use avocado and olive oil for all of our meals. However, if you pop into any old restaurant you’ll most likely discover they’ve got canola oil a plenty for everything from frying to baking and sautéing. With such a neutral flavor and a high smoke point, there’s some reasoning behind that. But simply googling “canola oil…”, you’ll land on pages of debates as to whether this rapeseed oil is healthy or not. 

Somewhat of a subjective matter, we're here to shine a light on the good, the bad and some truth surrounding canola oil (and why we believe olive + coconut are the cat's meow).   

Canola oil is high in polyunsaturated omega 3 fat— aka the “good” fat. Additionally, these fats are essential—meaning our bodies cannot synthesize them, so we must obtain them from our diet. Many studies have found omega 3s to be important in reducing cardiovascular disease risk since they are able to lower LDL (our “bad” cholesterol) and triglycerides.  There is also evidence of omega 3s being helpful for decreasing joint pain in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis.

Sadly, Canola oil is a highly genetically modified product. In the United States, about 90% of our canola oil is genetically modified. Over in the Plantable HQ, we recommend our clients avoid GMO foods as much as possible as we do not yet completely understand the negative consequences of GMOs. The Center for Food Safety states that GMOs could potentially lead to toxicity, allergic reactions and immunosuppression. Secondly, canola oil is highly refined, bleached, and typically partially hydrogenated. The hydrogenation process increases levels of trans fats, which are associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk. (Hence our slight apprehension!). 

Because the risks of GMOs are not yet clearly understood, we recommend simply avoiding canola oil, if possible! There are so many other nutritious and GMO-free oils out there to use, however we do realize that eating out can at times be simply unavoidable. So when doing the cooking yourself, opt for some of our faves, olive oil and avocado oil. 

Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats and is a major player in the Mediterranean diet, which has been linked to many health benefits. Because it has a smoke point under 400F, it is best to use olive oil as a salad dressing, to top off an already cooked dish, or for roasting vegetables at a temperature under 400F.

Avocado oil also contains healthy monounsaturated fats. With a higher smoking point than olive oil, avocado oil can be a great fat to cook with. 

Let's get cooking!