Can You Use Canola Oil instead of Vegetable? (It Depends)

Can You Use Canola Oil instead of Vegetable oil?

Of course you can use whatever you choose to HOWEVER there are pro's and con's of each and specific instances where you should use one over the other.

A reminder...

Vegetable oil has a lot of benefits: it’s cheap, predominantly colorless, and won’t alter the taste of your food. This is why it’s so popular worldwide.

However, there are some drawbacks to vegetable oil, too. It’s not the healthiest, as it’s mainly made up of soybean oil, and may also be mixed with corn oil, cottonseed oil, or a few other options. Usually, vegetable oil is a combination of the cheapest seed oils available and is often full of GMOs.

If you’re wanting to make changes to your diet and lifestyle, you may be considering substituting your vegetable oil for a healthier option.

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There is a myriad of oils to choose from, from olive oil to coconut, however, you may also want to keep cost low, and ensure that the substitute oil doesn’t alter the taste or appearance of your cooking too much.

That’s where canola oil comes in.  Canola oil is a type of vegetable oil derived from a variety of rapeseed that is low in erucic acid, as opposed to colza oil. Both of these are edible and industrial forms produced from the seed of any of several cultivars of the plant family Brassicaceae.

There are many similarities between vegetable oil and canola oil, so it’s a pretty straightforward switch and requires no changes to your recipes or cooking routine.

Both of these oils have mild flavors and light coloring, so neither alters the finished product much. They also have similar smoke points; canola oil has a smoke point of 100-232 °C (depending on whether it's an expeller press, refined, or unrefined version of the oil. Vegetable oil has a smoke point of about 220 °C

Using canola oil instead of vegetable oil

Canola v. vegetable oil: what’s healthier? 

Canola isn’t the healthiest oil out there, but it’s healthier than vegetable oil. If you select a non-GMO version, then canola oil is very healthy. Expeller-pressed Non-GMO canola oil is one of the most in-demand today. 

Expeller-pressed canola oil is when a press physically squeezes the oil out of the seed, rather than through the use of chemicals. This method is healthier as no solvents are used in the process, meaning there’s no chance of having any hexane residue left over.

An expeller press is a screw-type machine that uses friction and continuous pressure so that the screw drives forward to squeeze the oil from the compressed seeds. No heat is involved, but the pressure and friction involved in the pressing process create heat from the unit in the range of 140-210˚ F.

Like most oils, canola oil isn’t necessarily the most nutritious. One tablespoon of this oil (15 ml) contains about 124 calories, 12% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin E, and 12% of RDI of Vitamin K.

However, while Canola oil is pretty devoid of any other vitamins and minerals, it’s hailed for its low levels of saturated fat. Canola oil contains 7% saturated fat, 64% monounsaturated fat, and 28% polyunsaturated fat.

The polyunsaturated fats in canola oil include 21% linoleic acid, commonly known as omega-6 fatty acid, and 11% alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid derived from plant sources.

ALA is critical for maintaining a healthy heart and brain, and those on plant-based diets often depend on sources of ALA to boost levels of the omega-3 fats DHA and EPA.

The human body is able to convert ALA into DHA and EPA, however, research shows that this process is highly inefficient. ALA still has some health benefits of its own however, such as being able to lower fracture risk and protect against heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

The heating methods used during some forms of canola manufacturing, as well as cooking the oil at high heat when frying, can negatively impact polyunsaturated fats like ALA. As well as this, canola oil can contain up to 4.2% of trans fats, though the levels are often variable and usually lower than this.

Artificial trans fats are still a concern, however, as they can be harmful even in small amounts, which has prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to call for the global elimination of artificial trans fats in food by 2023.

GMO 

Another consideration when it comes to canola oil is GMO. GMO or genetically modified crops have had their genetic makeup engineered in order to modify their qualities and provide more consistent results.

For example, canola crops have been engineered to ensure they are more resistant to herbicides and pests.

GMO foods are generally considered safe, but they’ve become more controversial in recent years, as more people are raising concerns around issues such as the environment, public health, and crop contamination.

Due to the limited data on the impact of GMO crops on health, many health-conscious people tend to avoid them.

Over 90% of canola crops in the United States and Canada are genetically engineered. However, this is also an issue with other types of oils, including vegetable oil, as we mentioned at the beginning of this article.

Don’t get us wrong, canola oil offers many positives, but it’s only worth switching to if you buy a good quality one that isn’t genetically modified or chemically manufactured.

Final Say: Can You Use Canola Oil instead of Vegetable?

So, if you’re looking to make this change for health reasons, your best bet is to opt for a non-GMO, organic, expeller-pressed canola oil.

Overall, canola oil is a great alternative to vegetable oil as they both contain similar properties: their smoke points are similar, they’re both light in color, and they both have a mild taste, which means overall you won’t need to change your recipes, as canola oil makes an ideal substitute for vegetable oil and won’t change the taste, color, or texture of your food.

It’s also a similar price to vegetable oil and is readily available, making it an affordable and accessible alternative.

The main thing is to bear in mind the various health concerns surrounding all types of GMO oils, and those that are manufactured with chemicals - to make the healthiest choice possible for you.