Canola vs. Olive Oil

I’ve always sworn by olive oil.  I typically utilize it several times a day, drizzling it on nearly every vegetable I steam and using it on pretty much anything that gets put on my stovetop.  Numerous studies help to back me up as I publicly declare my love of olive oil, finding that with its high levels of monounsaturated fat (the good kind), olive oil has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and various kinds of cancer.  And who can’t avoid the hype this popular fat has gotten from those promoting the Mediterranean diet, one that if followed properly has time and time again shown to help keep people on the slimmer side.

While I love the deep, robust flavor of olive oil and the health benefits in which it’s able to boast, there is another oil that may even shine above olive oil when it comes to health.  Welcome to the world of Canola Oil.

Like olive oil, canola oil possesses a high level of monounsaturated fats, which as we said before are the “good” fats.  However, eclipsing olive oil’s health status, canola oil contains less than half the amount of saturated fat, the “bad guy” fat, that olive oil contains.  Looking at the numbers, just 7% of the fat in canola oil comes from saturated fat as compared to 15% in olive oil.  This is particularly of interest for those who are battling high cholesterol, which can eventually lead to coronary heart disease.  According to the American Heart Association, saturated fat is the main dietary cause of high blood cholesterol.

Canola oil is also a rich source of essential fatty acids, the kind needed to be obtained through the diet since the human body can’t produce them on its own.  Canola oil constitutes as an excellent source of omega-6 fatty acids and contains the highest amount of omega-3 ALA than any other commonly used oil.  That means more omega-3’s than olive oil can claim.  Omega-3’s reduce inflammation and are important for brain functioning.  Research has shown that they may also help to lower the risk of arthritis, cancer, and heart disease.

While canola oil ranks slightly above olive oil, both oils contain a significant percentage of the good kind of fats and make excellent choices in terms of fat.  Canola oil has a rather mild flavor, which lends itself to all types of cooking and works especially well in baking.  When dressing food, I think I’ll probably still stick to olive oil, purely because I love it’s robust flavor.  By using extra virgin olive oil, the variety that’s least processed and comes from the first pressing of the olives, you can actually cut back on the amount of oil you use because of its strong flavor.  So in some cases, this might make olive oil a better choice.  However, bottom line, don’t think olive oil is the one and only star in the fat kingdom…canola oil is certainly worthy of its own thrown.

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9 Comments

  • Reply
    Positive Massage
    June 12, 2010 at 9:39 am

    I’m with you Grace- olive for dressing, canola for cooking.

    There appears to be a typo in the 2nd sentence of the 3rd paragraph “…the “bad guy” fat, that canola oil contains. ” I think you mean “that olive oil contains.”

    Cheers,
    Steven

  • Reply
    The Candid RD
    June 12, 2010 at 9:45 am

    AGREED! I love canola oil. I use canola or extra virgin olive oil. EVOO for my cold dishes, canola for popcorn and other dishes that need cooked. It’s benefits are so underestimated!

  • Reply
    PCM
    June 12, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    I used to use olive oil almost exclusively, then I started using grapeseed oil for most of my everyday cooking. It seems to work better with high heat and has a lighter flavor. That said, I don’t know if the nutritional content of grapeseed oil is comparable to olive oil or canola oil. Perhaps you can explore this in a subsequent post? 🙂

  • Reply
    theexperfectionist
    June 13, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    I too prefer the flavor of olive oil. Although, Extra Virgin Olive Oil is not as tolerable to high heat. Canola oil is good to have on hand for high heat cooking, as it does not burn as quickly.

  • Reply
    Nicole
    June 14, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    I agree 100%. Canola oil has caught some heat lately, and yet I’m not sure why. EVOO is fairly high in polyunsaturated fat which is a “good fat” but it actually can decrease HDL (the good cholesterol). Not a fan of that aspect, but I love, love, love olive oil’s flavor. This was really well-written…everyone should read it!

  • Reply
    Kady @ Livin, Lovin, Learnin
    June 15, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    This is great info, thanks! My mom and I have spent time discussing which is better – olive or canola – because we are always hearing how great olive oil is and nothing about canola. I didn’t know canola has more omega-3s. That’s good news because I’d rather use canola when I need a milder taste.

  • Reply
    Janet
    June 27, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    I use EVOO for drizzling on salads, and in dishes where the flavor is compatible. Canola oil is great for baking, in so many dishes where the fruit taste of olive oil would be out of place. For everyday sauteéing, I keep a bottle with half EVOO/half Canola on my counter. It’s surprising how often I use it.
    One other benefit of Canola oil over Olive oil — it doesn’t congeal in the refrigerator, which means your pre-made salad dressings will be ready to pour straight from the bottle.
    Thanks for the info!

  • Reply
    foodtable
    July 2, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    very informative! thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • Reply
    Anuj Bhatia
    October 20, 2010 at 2:24 am

    I prefer Canola oil over olive oil …….because Canola oil is good for your heart ..

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