Olive oil is made from olives, the fruit of the olive tree, and is considered a fruit oil. Ripe olives are crushed, then pressed; the collected juices constitute olive oil. Olive oil is generally pressed at cold temperatures to maintain the nutritional integrity of the oil; these types of olive oils are labeled “cold pressed.”
You may have noticed that there are different kinds of olive oils available for sale. Extra virgin olive oil is collected from the first pressing of the olives, and contains the most nutrients. Virgin olive oil is collected from the second pressing. Olive juices collected from subsequent pressings are used to make light and pure olive oils; these oils may undergo extra processing.
Canola oil is manufactured at high temperatures, using a mechanical process that often involves toxic chemicals, like hexane. Canola oil is degummed, deodorized, bleached and further refined at high temperatures. These high temperatures can change the omega-3 content of the oil and can significantly raise the oil’s concentrations of trans fatty acids and saturated fats.
Olive Oil Contains More Nutrients Than Canola Oil
All in all, olive oil is considered the healthier oil because of the nutrients it contains. Extra virgin olive oil contains antioxidants, polyphenols and omega-3 fatty acids with can promote cardiovascular health and cognitive function as well as boosting your immune system and protecting you from many types of cancer. Olive oil can even help prevent or reverse type 2 diabetes, since it helps your body produce adiponectin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels. Olive oil even has anti-inflammatory properties, and can be of immense benefit to those with inflammatory diseases like arthritis and osteoporosis.
Canola Oil is Good for Your Heart
While canola oil doesn’t contain the many beneficial nutrients found in olive oil, it is good for your heart. Canola oil is generally low in saturated fats (read the label to make sure), and high in the omega-3 fatty acids and other monounsaturated fats that help to promote healthy cardiovascular function.
When to Choose Canola Oil Over Olive Oil
While olive oil is considered the healthier oil, it’s sometimes appropriate to choose canola oil instead. Extra virgin and virgin olive oils retain much of the flavor of the olives from which they’re pressed, so while they might make a tasty dip or dressing, they often aren’t appropriate for cooking or baking. Since most types of olive oils are more expensive than canola oil, you might want to consider reserving olive oil for toppings and using canola oil for cooking and baking.
We often hear disputes about canola oil being safe or not fit for human consumption. What is the truth? Before the 1970s, canola oil was derived from a member of the mustard family called rapeseed plant. The rapeseed oil extracted from this plant contained high levels of erucic acid, which is a compound toxic in high levels to humans. Erucic acid was associated with Keshan’s disease, which was characterized by fibrous lesions of the heart.
However, after the 1970s, a natural cross breeding from rapeseed plant was developed to form the canola plant in Canada. The name canola was not a botanically derived name, but was derived from two words: Canada and oil. Today the canola oil we have is extracted from canola seeds (seeds from the new plant) and not from the rapeseed plant. According to the Food and Drug Administration, the canola oil available today contains low levels of erucic acid (0.3 % to 1.2 %) and is safe for human consumption. Thus, if you were afraid to use canola oil for cooking due to stories about erucic acid, then you will be relieved to know that canola oil is not dangerous and does not contain toxins. The confusion arises when you confuse the term ‘rapeseed oil’ with canola oil. Rapeseed oil is detrimental for health, however, canola oil is safe.
Canola seeds from the lovely yellow canola flowers are harvested and pressed, to obtain canola oil. This oil is low in saturated fat and is high in monounsaturated fat. In fact, canola oil has the lowest level of saturated fatty acids, as compared to any vegetable oil. Moreover, since it is high in monounsaturated fatty acids, it can reduce blood cholesterol levels. Canola oil also contains moderate levels of essential polyunsaturated fatty acids. It also contains adequate amounts of vitamin E.