Olive oil and canola oil are both marketed as heart healthy oils for cooking and baking. However, while both oils are healthy, the two oils are very different. Olive oil is an oil that is made by pressing ripe olives and collecting their juices; canola oil is made from a hybrid of the rapeseed plant, and is a vegetable oil. Here's how olive oil and canola oil compare.
Olive Oil and Canola Oil are Manufactured Differently
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.