Canola Oil vs. Vegetable Oil: Healthier Cooking Option (2023)

Overview

Most of us use some type of oil every day while cooking. Do you know which types of oil are the healthiest for you and which ones are the best to use in different types of cooking?

Canola and vegetable oil may seem interchangeable, but they actually have different qualities when it comes to nutrition and best use.

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Canola oil

When looking at different types of oil, keep three things in mind:

  1. its smoking point (the temperature at which the oil starts to break down, making it unhealthy)
  2. the type of fat that it contains
  3. its flavor

Canola oil can be heated to a variety of temperatures, and it has a neutral taste. This makes it a favorite cooking oil for many. Canola oil is widely considered to be a healthy oil as it’s low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated fat.

Both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can improve cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease. Saturated fat, which is more prevalent in animal products and also found in coconut and palm oil, raises blood cholesterol levels.

It’s better to limit the amount of saturated fat in your diet.

One of the major drawbacks of canola oil is that it doesn’t come from a natural plant. It’s crossbred, and most canola oil is produced from genetically modified plants (also known as GMOs).

(Video) Is Canola Oil Good Or Bad For Your Health? Healthy Cooking Oil or Not?

While this doesn’t necessarily make the oil an unhealthy choice, some GMOs are being sprayed with chemicals that can be harmful to people, including those with sensitivities.

There is also some controversy about whether GMOs themselves are safe in the long term. Long-term safety studies aren’t yet available, and there is much debate over whether GMOs are healthy or unhealthy.

The important thing is to be aware of whether your foods contain GMO ingredients or not. Make your choice with that knowledge!

Vegetable oil

Vegetable oil is often a mix or a blend of different types of oils. It’s a more generic type of oil that many people use in their everyday cooking. Vegetable oil is often an inexpensive choice that can be used for all kinds of cooking. And like canola oil, it has a neutral flavor.

The problem with this type of generic oil is that you’re less likely to know exactly what’s in your oil. This includes how the plants from which the oil was extracted were grown and how the oil was processed.

The ratio of saturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, and monounsaturated fat varies depending on what oils have been included in the blend (sunflower, corn, soy, safflower, etc.), so you won’t have as much control over the types of fats you’re eating.

Safe storage of cooking oil

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Unfortunately, cooking oils can be prone to going rancid, particularly when exposed to oxygen. When oxygen interacts with the compounds in oils, it results in the breakdown of peroxides. This can give cooking oils an unpleasant smell or taste.

With time, the oxygen can contribute to a greater number of free radicals. These are potentially harmful compounds that have been linked to cell damage and potentially to causing cancer. As a result, it’s important that you take care where you store your cooking oils and how long you store them.

Most cooking oils should be kept in a cool, dry place. In particular, keep them away from heat (above or too close to the stove) and sunlight (in front of a window).

Wrap clear glass bottles of oil in aluminum foil or another material to keep light out and to extend the life of the oil.

If you purchase a large bottle of oil, you may wish to transfer some oil to a small bottle that you’ll use more quickly. The rest can be stored in the refrigerator or in a cool place away from sunlight.

If you purchase cooking oils that contain herbs and vegetables (such as chili peppers, garlic, tomatoes, or mushrooms), they can be prone to bacterial growth, including Clostridium botulinum bacteria (which can cause botulism).

Oils with this kind of mixture should be refrigerated after opening and used within four days after opening for maximum freshness and taste.

Generally, most cooking oils go bad in about three months. That’s more incentive to go ahead and cook healthy foods with them.

Other healthy oils

Canola oil and vegetable oil aren’t your only options when it comes to cooking! Other healthy plant-based options for fats include the following.

(Video) Which Cooking Oils are Safe? (Which to AVOID)

Avocado oil

Avocado oil has a high smoke point. This means that it’s ideal for searing, browning, or baking foods. Avocado oils are high in monounsaturated fats, with polyunsaturated fats about half those of monounsaturated.

The oil can be costly because it takes many avocados to create even a small amount of oil. However, it has an excellent, neutral flavor that makes it ideal for adding to soups, drizzling over fish or chicken before baking, or mixing with vegetables for roasting.

Extra virgin olive oil

Full of good-for-you monounsaturated fat, olive oil is best used at medium- or low-heat cooking temperatures.

When you choose good-quality extra-virgin olive oil, the flavor is excellent, making it a great choice for salad dressings.

Coconut oil

While coconut oil may be high in saturated fats, it also has a beneficial effect on a person’s high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels. HDL is also known as a person’s “good” cholesterol, which works to reduce levels of unwanted high cholesterol.

However, because coconut oil is so high in saturated fats, most health experts recommend using it sparingly. Coconut oil has a medium smoke point, making it best for using with low-heat baking and sautéing.

Grapeseed oil

Grapeseed oil has a smoke point that’s medium high, meaning that you can use it safely for a variety of different types of cooking.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, it has a ratio of 73 percent polyunsaturated fats, 17 percent monounsaturated fats, and 10 percent saturated fats. It’s a great multipurpose oil to use.

Keep in mind that this type of oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat that needs to be balanced with omega-3s, another type of polyunsaturated fat.

It’s a good idea to increase your intake of other foods that include a higher ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats in your diet to compensate.

MCT oil

Medium chain triglycerides (MCT) oil is a cooking oil known to be low in calories and is an excellent source of energy for the body. As a result, some athletes use MCT oil to enhance athletic performance.

However, if a person simply chooses to consume MCT oil by the tablespoon, they should start in small doses. Eating too much at a time is associated with nausea.

(Video) Why You Should Avoid Vegetable Oils

Also, don’t heat the oil higher than 150 to 160 degrees to avoid affecting the taste. Many people enjoy MCT oil as a salad dressing (and, no doubt, are happy to avoid keeping track of the oil’s temperature on the stove).

Peanut oil

Peanut oil is a flavorful oil high in resveratrol, a compound that helps to fight heart disease and reduces a person’s cancer risk. This oil is well-balanced in terms of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

It has a medium-high smoke point, which makes it ideal for stir-frying, baking, or cooking dishes in the oven.

Sesame oil

With a more balanced ratio of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, sesame oil is best used when heated only very lightly or not at all. You can also use it in salads and no-cook dishes to preserve the nutrients.

The takeaway

You can get other kinds of gourmet oils too, like macadamia nut oil! Don’t be afraid to get creative.

As you can see, when trying to choose a healthy oil, one of the best things you can do is to enjoy a variety of oils that are higher in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and lower in saturated fats.

The more variety you have in your diet with the types of fats you consume, the more nutrients you get.

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Sagan Morrow is a freelance writer and editor as well as a professional lifestyle blogger at SaganMorrow.com. She has a background as a certified holistic nutritionist.

(Video) Canola Oil vs Vegetable Oil. Which one is better for our health? - Healthy State -

FAQs

Canola Oil vs. Vegetable Oil: Healthier Cooking Option? ›

Canola oil has a higher ratio of monounsaturated fat to saturated fat, and free of trans fats, which is considered more heart healthy. While vegetable oil has 2 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon, canola oil has only 1 gram. Vegetable oil tends to be the more cost-effective alternative of the two.

Is canola oil healthier than vegetable oil for cooking? ›

While plant-based fats are considered more heart-healthy than animal fats, canola oil is generally believed to be a healthier option because it is lower in saturated fat than vegetable oil.

Which cooking oil is the healthiest to cook with? ›

Oil Essentials: The 5 Healthiest Cooking Oils
  • Olive Oil. Olive oil is popular for a reason. ...
  • Avocado Oil. Avocado oil boasts a lot of the same benefits as extra virgin olive oil, but with a higher smoking point, making it great for sauteing or pan frying. ...
  • Coconut Oil. ...
  • Sunflower Oil. ...
  • Butter.

Is canola oil healthier for cooking? ›

Canola oil is one of the healthiest cooking oils available, with zero trans fat and the lowest amount of saturated fat of all common cooking oils. And because canola oil is so versatile and affordable, it's ideal for making a wide range of healthy foods, both at home and on a commercial scale.

What cooking oil is healthier than vegetable oil? ›

Peanut oil and grapeseed oil are often heralded as healthy substitutes for vegetable oil. Both have a high smoke point and are good for: broiling. stir-frying.

What is a healthy substitute for canola or vegetable oil? ›

The best substitute for canola oil? Olive oil is well known to be a heart-healthy cooking oil (source). If you're making something savory like a salad dressing or sauteing, you can use olive oil as a 1 for 1 substitute for canola oil. It cooks similarly to vegetable oil.

Should I use olive oil or canola oil instead of vegetable oil? ›

The swap from vegetable to olive oil is a very simple one, and is one you should make, for both flavor and health reasons. Olive oil contains many more heart healthy fats and antioxidants, unlike the refined vegetable oil that loses most of its beneficiary qualities during its production.

Why do chefs like canola oil? ›

Canola is a good choice for cooking and baking because it's low in artery-clogging saturated fat (lower than olive oil) and high in heart-healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats.

What is the healthiest oil for deep frying? ›

Heart-healthy oils like safflower oil and rice bran oil are perfect because they can withstand frying temperatures of almost 500° F. You can also look to peanut oil and sunflower oil if you're frying at 450° F, or canola oil and vegetable oil to keep temperatures around 400° F.

What is the unhealthiest oil to cook with? ›

The Worst Cooking Oils
  • Palm oil.
  • Vegetable oil.
  • Soybean oil.
  • Sunflower oil.
  • Coconut oil.
  • Margarine.
  • Shortening.
  • Butter.
Sep 16, 2021

What are unhealthy cooking oils to avoid? ›

When possible, Shanahan recommends avoiding or limiting these eight oils: corn, canola, cottonseed, soy, safflower, sunflower, grapeseed, and rice bran oils, which may lead to inflammation over time. This article was originally published July 23, 2020, and it has been updated.

What cooking oil is not bad for you? ›

Sturdy oils good for sautéing, stir-frying, or roasting foods include avocado, canola, corn, grapeseed, regular or light olive oil (not virgin or extra-virgin), peanut, rice bran, safflower, soybean, and sunflower oils.

Why use canola oil instead of vegetable oil? ›

The main difference between the two oils is the saturated fat content. Canola oil has a higher ratio of monounsaturated fat to saturated fat, and free of trans fats, which is considered more heart healthy. While vegetable oil has 2 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon, canola oil has only 1 gram.

What are the downsides of canola oil? ›

Canola Oil Disadvantages

Some studies show that a high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 can raise your risk of certain diseases and conditions, such as Alzheimer's, obesity, and heart disease. Canola oil is also highly refined. This means it goes through a process that uses heat and chemicals to extract the oil.

What is the side effect of canola oil? ›

Side Effects of Canola oil:

Erucic acid can hinder normal growth, although it is present in small amounts. As canola oil is partially hydrogenated, it may cause artery inflammation and calcification. Daily use of canola oil may result in memory issues. Presence of omega-3-fatty acids, may prolong the bleeding time.

Which oil is best for heart and cholesterol? ›

Heart-healthy oils like canola, corn, olive, peanut, and sunflower oils contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. They help to lower harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and raise healthy high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

Which oil is lowest in saturated fat? ›

Of all vegetable oils, canola oil tends to have the least amount of saturated fats. It has a high smoke point, which means it can be helpful for high-heat cooking. That being said, in the United States, canola oil tends to be highly processed, which means fewer nutrients overall.

Why is vegetable oil better for cooking? ›

Vegetable oil

It has a smoke point of about 400°F, making it a good option for any sort of oven cooking. Vegetable oil contains the highest levels of polyunsaturated fats of any type of cooking oil, which is a good thing since these types of fats have been shown to lower coronary heart disease.

Why you shouldn't cook with olive oil? ›

Olive oil has a lower smoke point-the point at which an oil literally begins to smoke (olive oil's is between 365° and 420°F)-than some other oils. When you heat olive oil to its smoke point, the beneficial compounds in oil start to degrade, and potentially health-harming compounds form.

What oils cause inflammation? ›

Omega 6 Fatty Acids

Omega-6s are found in oils such as corn, safflower, sunflower, soy and vegetable and products made with those oils. Excess consumption of omega-6s can trigger the body to produce pro-inflammatory chemicals, and the American diet tends to be very high in omega-6s.

What's best oil for frying? ›

Vegetable Oil: Best All-Purpose Oil for Frying

It's great for all different methods of frying and all kinds of foods, like breaded chicken, fries, and more. It has a high smoke point (around 400˚ to 450˚), which means it can withstand a high temperature before it starts to burn.

What oil does Mcdonald's use? ›

Once in our kitchens, we cook them in our canola-blend oil so you can have them crispy and hot—just the way you like them. Want to hear more about our fry ingredients? Get the down low on how we flavor our fries.

What is the unhealthiest vegetable oil? ›

In this chart, she explains how Corn oil, Canola (also called rapeseed) oil, Cottonseed oil, Soy oil, Sunflower oil, Safflower oil, Grapeseed oil and Rice bran oil are 8 of the most unhealthy vegetable oils.

What cooking oil is not carcinogenic? ›

Organic, Extra-virgin, Unrefined Coconut Oil (medium heat) Organic, Expeller- or Cold-pressed Avocado Oil (medium-high heat) Refined Safflower Oil (high heat)

What's healthier canola or olive oil? ›

Besides the more robust flavor, high-quality olive oil is also healthier for you than canola oil. It contains antioxidants as well as monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat (aka the good kinds of fats).

Is avocado oil healthier than canola oil? ›

Avocado oil is considered a healthier alternative to canola oil. Canola oil is highly processed making it less nutrient dense. Avocado oil is not chemically processed and offers higher amounts of healthy fats compared to canola oil.

Is canola oil as good for you as olive oil? ›

As far as your health is concerned, more evidence supports the benefits of olive oil over canola. Robust research links olive oil — especially extra virgin — to health benefits, including for your heart. It's less refined and boasts more antioxidants than canola oil, which makes it a better choice.

Is canola oil bad for inflammation? ›

Some studies suggest that canola oil may increase inflammation and negatively impact memory and heart health. However, other research reports positive effects on health including the possibility that it might lower LDL cholesterol.

What are the pros and cons of canola oil? ›

Pros And Cons Of Canola Oil
  • Versatile cooking oil. Thanks to its minimal flavor, high smoke point, and smooth texture, canola oil is one of the most versatile cooking oils. ...
  • Low in saturated fat. ...
  • Most is genetically modified. ...
  • Contributes to inflammation. ...
  • May worsen memory.
Feb 8, 2023

Why is canola genetically modified? ›

Today, nearly all of the canola grown in Canada and the United States has been genetically modified to be herbicide-tolerant. Herbicide-resistant GMOs are made by the same chemical companies that sell these harmful chemicals.

Does canola oil raise blood pressure? ›

High blood pressure. Early research shows that using canola oil that contains docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) helps lower blood pressure in people with large waists and risk factors for heart disease. But it seems that it is the DHA in the canola oil is what causes this improvement.

What are the benefits of using canola oil? ›

Canola oil contains both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which make it the healthiest cooking oil out there. Canola oil has 7 per cent saturated fat, which helps cut cholesterol levels. It is rich in vitamins E and K, and reduces skin problems and ageing signs like acne, fine lines, wrinkles, blemishes and spots.

Is canola oil good for arthritis? ›

Foods that are high in monounsaturated fats include vegetable oils (olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil), avocados and many nuts and seeds. Omega-3 fats: Studies show that eating foods rich in omega-3 fats can help reduce inflammation, particularly in rheumatoid arthritis.

What oils are the worst for cholesterol? ›

It's also important to consider the saturated fats in oils since they can cause cholesterol build-up. For example, coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil contain saturated fat that can increase so-called “bad” cholesterol.

What is the best oil to prevent heart disease? ›

The healthiest oils are those which mostly contain heart-healthy poly- and mono-unsaturated fats. Foods which are rich in these heart-healthy fats like nuts, seeds, avocado, olives and vegetable oils help to reduce levels of harmful cholesterol (low density lipoprotein - LDL) in the blood.

Which oil is good for high blood pressure? ›

Researchers have found that neroli essential oil, blended with lavender, ylang-ylang, and marjoram could reduce stress and blood pressure in people with prehypertension and hypertension.

What butter is good for high cholesterol? ›

You can help reduce your risk of high cholesterol by substituting foods for regular butter that are lower in saturated fat or have been shown to have less impact on heart disease risk, such as: grass-fed butter. Earth Balance spread, a vegan, soy-free, non-hydrogenated option. avocados.

Which cooking oil is cholesterol free? ›

Coconut oil, palm, palm kernel oil, and cocoa butter supply large amounts of saturated fat, too, but are cholesterol-free.

What is worse for cholesterol sugar or fat? ›

Sugar: The #1 Enemy in American Diets

A large body of research showed that sugar is even worse for your heart than saturated (bad) fat. Guidelines now suggest Americans limit added sugar to roughly 10 percent of daily calories, or about 12 teaspoons per day.

Should you ever use vegetable oil? ›

Health professionals often recommend vegetable oils for those at risk of heart disease. The reason is that vegetable oils are generally low in saturated fat and high in polyunsaturated fat. The benefits of reduced saturated fat intake are controversial.

Why do chefs use olive oil instead of vegetable oil? ›

When it comes to taste, olive oil--especially extra virgin olive oil--has a much richer flavor profile than vegetable oil, and can enhance the flavor of everything you cook. And with the added flavor comes additional potential health benefits, derived from the unique olive antioxidants and polyphenols.

Which oil is recommended for cooking and why? ›

Olive oil has long been the gold standard for cooking oils in kitchens across the globe. This is largely because it's versatile. It has a subtle peppery or grassy flavor, and you can use it for baking, sautéing, or cold dressings. Olive oil is rich in vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant.

Which oil is best for cooking canola or olive? ›

At any rate, olive oil is superior. It's heart-healthy, rich in antioxidants, and can support a healthy memory. Although canola oil is more economical and versatile, there are much better oil options. Don't sweat consuming canola oil in moderation, but when you have the choice, choose olive oil.

What are the cons of cooking with canola oil? ›

Canola Oil Disadvantages

Some studies show that a high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 can raise your risk of certain diseases and conditions, such as Alzheimer's, obesity, and heart disease. Canola oil is also highly refined. This means it goes through a process that uses heat and chemicals to extract the oil.

Which is better to lower cholesterol canola oil or olive oil? ›

Olive oil contains more monounsaturated fat than any other oil – the type that helps to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol. That's why it's often touted as one of the healthiest oils.

What happens if I use canola oil instead of olive oil? ›

Thanks to a similar smoke point (400°F) and mild flavor profile, canola oil is a suitable replacement for olive oil for sautéing, grilling, roasting, and stir-frying.

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