Things you didn’t know about rapeseed

The use of canola can help reduce the high incidents of ailments like diabetes and heart disease

Published: 03rd January 2012 11:19 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 06:07 PM   |  A+A-

1-THING

BANGALORE: Wondering if your cooking oil is the best for your family?  Cory McArthur, Vice President, Market Development, Canola Council of Canada was recently in the city to speak about the benefits of Conola oil. While the West is switching to the oil, it maybe time that we do as well considering the benefits it holds. City Express finds out what the oil has in store in terms of health.

What is the nutritional profile of Canola oil?

Canola oil consists of less than 7 per cent saturated fat (bad fat) which is the lowest amongst all other culinary oils such as olive oil that has 15 per cent of saturated fat, soybean oil which has 15 per cent saturated fat and sunflower oil which has 12 per cent saturated fat content.

The good fat (polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated) content of canola oil is more than 93 per cent which makes it the biggest source of good fats among all other culinary oils such as olive oil which has an 85 per cent good fat content, while soybean oil is also at 85 per cent and sunflower oil is at 88 per cent.

Apart from these qualities, it is the second highest source of omega-3 fats, which helps protect against heart attacks and strokes and; omega-6 fatty acids which are important for the brain.

How is the oil obtained? And how is its processing different from that of other oils?

Canola oil is obtained from canola seeds that are grown primarily in regions of Western Canada. In the 1960’s Canadian researchers used traditional plant breeding to eliminate the undesirable components of rapeseed like erucic acid and glucosinolates, creating ‘canola,’ a contraction of ‘Canadian’ and ‘ola’.

The new and nutritionally superior oilseed called ‘canola’ contains about 44 per cent of oil.

There is a strict internationally regulated definition of canola that differentiates it from rapeseed, based upon the former having less than two per cent erucic acid and less than 30 umoles glucosinolates. The erucic acid in canola oil from Canada is actually now below 0.02 per cent! Therefore, oilseed products that do not meet this standard cannot use the descriptor, ‘canola’ or ‘canola-quality’.

The production of edible vegetable oils including canola oil involves two overall processes, mechanical pressing and extraction, and further processing to remove impurities. The techniques used are similar for most vegetable oils produced from the seeds of plants.

How beneficial is it when it comes to people with problems like diabetes, weight issues,  cholesterol. Does it prevent any health

problems?

Canola oil is a blend of good fats for good health. It has the least amount of saturated fat which is half of olive and soybean oils and has the most amount of omega-3 fat among popular cooking oils. The US Food and Drug Administration authorised a qualified health claim for canola oil on its potential to reduce the risk of heart disease. About 1.5 tablespoons a day of canola oil in place of saturated fat can help you keep heart problems at bay. Due to its significant heart health benefits the Asian Heart Institute in Mumbai cooks all patient meals in canola oil.

Canola oil also contains Vitamin E and K, the former is an antioxidising agent that is a valuable tool in fighting cancer and heart disease and the latter is vital for blood clotting. The use of canola oil in India can help promote better health given the high incidence of diabetes and heart disease in the country.

In terms of taste, texture and consistency, how different is it from other cooking oils? Canola oil is one of the most versatile culinary oils available in the market. Its high heat tolerance (smoke point of 242 °C) allows it to be used for various cooking methods such as deep frying, shallow frying, and sautéing. It has a very light texture and consistency that does not make a dish too heavy even when it is deep fried.

Neither does is impart any color and hence does not interfere with the natural colors of the other ingredients in a dish. It also has a neutral flavor which allows it to be used in almost all culinary applications and cuisines without taking away from the original

taste of a dish. Other oils such as olive oil and mustard oil have a very distinctive taste which makes their application in various dishes very limited as it overpowers/influences the taste of a dish to a great extent. Also such oils have a very low smoke point which makes it impossible to be used in many cooking methods such as deep frying and shallow frying How does canola oil fair when compared with the cost of the other oils?

Bottled canola oil is priced at  approximately one third the cost of olive oil, making it affordable for use in everyday cooking.

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