Canola oil is an edible oil that is obtained from the crushing of the seeds of the canola plant. It first made its appearance in Canada back in the 1970s. Today, the production of canola oil is very profitable. The oil makes up about 50% of the volume of the seeds and thus yields a particularly good result when processed. The remaining seed mash still contains a lot of nutrients and is therefore used as animal feed. The canola oil and the rapeseed oil both come from the same species of plant, but from different cultivars of the species. This means that they are somewhat biologically identical but fundamentally different in nutritional content. The cultivar that produces the canola oil has been specifically cross-bred and from rapeseed plants and genetically modified to produce the most ideal oil whereas the rapeseed oil is produced from naturally occurring rapeseed plants. To make the canola plant produce a safe and edible version of the rapeseed oil, scientists have discovered a way to replace the erucic acid with oleic acid. This has brought the level of the dangerous acid down to between 0.5% and 1.0%, a level in compliance with all FDA standards.
The rapeseed oil contains a significantly higher amount of a toxin know as erucic acid and is therefore not suitable for consumption as it has been linked to various health problems. On the contrary, the canola oil contains very low amounts of erucic acid and has been approved by large government bodies like the FDA for safe consumption.
Canola oil has one of the lowest amounts of saturated fatty acids and is mostly made up of “healthy” or unsaturated fatty acids. Health practitioners and dieticians recommend using canola oil because it is cholesterol-free and has a diverse and well-balanced amount of minerals in it. Taking in canola oil sufficiently provides you with important substances like the fat-soluble vitamins and oleic acids. It can lower cholesterol levels if taken consistently in moderate amounts because of its high unsaturated fatty acid content.
In the early 2000s, emails and websites touting the dangers of canola oil, due to its origins as rapeseed, took the Internet by storm. This was largely the result of viral emails that spread quickly as fear took hold of the readers. The basic premise of these emails is that because canola oil is a derivative of rapeseed, which in its pure form is toxic to humans, it is not safe for humans either. While the reports on this oil contained many facts regarding canola oil, the basic assumptions proved to be false as this assertion has absolutely no substantial basis. While canola is a derivative of the rape plant, it is a genetically modified version, which has been bred specifically to produce oil that is safe for human consumption.
The levels of the erucic acid toxin are negligible in the canola oil and no health effects have been observed even when consuming large amounts of it.
Today, the canola oil plays a major role in the culinary industry, especially in Western countries where it is both cultivated and used at a large scale.