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The Nutrition of Canola Oil

Fitday Editor

Canola oil is found in many foods and is commonly used in cooking; it's helpful to understand the nutrient composition of canola oil, how to incorporate it into you diet, and how it can benefit your health. Below you'll find detailed information regarding the nutrition and health benefits of consuming canola oil.

Nutrient Composition

Canola oil is a pure fat (does not contain protein or carbohydrates) that is low in saturated fat, cholesterol-free, sodium-free, high in monounsaturated fat, and contains beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. It contains 120 calories (100 percent of which are fat calories) per serving; a serving size of canola oil is 1 Tbs. Therefore it you're watching your fat and calorie intake it's important to consume canola oil in moderation. Try to keep your overall dietary fat content less than 30 percent of your total calorie intake. The main nutritional benefit of consuming canola oil is its high composition of omega-3 fatty acids.

Health Benefits

Due to its beneficial fat content, canola oil is heart healthy and can help reduce your risk of coronary heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids may help lower cholesterol, decrease triglycerides, and lower blood pressure. Foods high in omega-3 fats are also believed to improve brain function and learning ability in young children, and it's recommended that pregnant women take prenatal supplements containing omega-3s.

Cooking With Canola Oil

Due to canola oil's low saturated fat and high monounsaturated fat content, it's generally recommended over butter for use in cooking. Canola (or other vegetable oils) can easily be used to replace butter or other foods high in saturated fats. Foods you can prepare with canola oil include popcorn, chicken breasts, baked fish and fajitas. Foods that contain canola oil as ingredients include many salad dressings, peanut butter, some brands of refried beans and hummus.

Similar Foods

There are foods similar to canola oil that contain high amounts of heart healthy omega-3-fatty acids: olive oil, flaxseed, soybean oil, many nuts, and fish oils are examples. There are also supplements available that contain omega-3s, but ask your doctor before you take them since fish oils (commonly used in supplements) may contain mercury.

The Mediterranean Diet

Following the Mediterranean diet may help to lower your risk of heart disease and help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol. It incorporates the basics of healthy eating and choosing healthy fats, such as olive and canola oils. Although olive oil is the main fat used in the Mediterranean diet, canola oil is also recommended. Eating generous amounts of fruits and vegetables is encouraged as well as limiting red meat and other saturated fats, eating moderate amounts of fish (2 times or more per week), drinking wine in moderation, eating nuts in moderation, and exercising regularly.

The bottom line when consuming canola oil is that is does have many health benefits due to its high level of omega-3s. However, as with any type of fat, consume it in moderation to help maintain a healthy weight.

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