Canola Oil FAQs

Canola Oil FAQs

What is canola oil?

Canola oil is the oil of the Rape plant (Brassica napus), also known as the Rapeseed plant. Rapeseed is related to mustard, turnip, radish, and horseradish plants. Unrefined rapeseed oil has been used for centuries in Europe and Asia for cooking. In North America Rapeseed oil initially wasn't used for human consumption due to its bitter taste, a result of their high erucic acid and glucosinolate content. In 1974 a new variety of the rapeseed plant was bred in Canada that contained significantly lower amounts of both of these bitter compounds, and the oil from this new, cross-bred plant has been used domestically for healthy cooking ever since.

What makes canola oil a healthy alternative to other oils?

Canola oil has less of the "bad fats" - saturated and trans-fats - than any other vegetable oil currently available. It’s also high in the "good fats" - linoleic acid, alpha linolenic acid, and monounsaturated fats. This unique fat content makes canola oil especially healthy for the heart, and canola's heart-health claims are recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Canola also has no cholesterol and contains enough vitamin E to provide almost a quarter of the daily recommended intake.

Wasn't canola oil created through genetic engineering?

In 1974 the rapeseed plant was genetically modified through traditional cross-breeding to reduce the amount of erucic acid in canola oil, making it palatable and suitable for human consumption. Scientists were finally able to successfully replace the erucic acid in rapeseed oil with the healthier monounsaturated fat, oleic acid.

While some may use the terms genetic modification and genetic engineering interchangeably, they are notably different. Genetic modification, or cross-breeding, has been widely used and accepted for thousands of years and is a safe and natural way of improving food crops through natural gene combinations. Genetic engineering was developed in the '70s and entails the splicing of genes to create combinations that aren't natural, such as splicing a plant's genes with fish genes to increase the plant's resistance to a certain disease.

Today, the majority of the canola grown in North America is from genetically engineered seeds, but there are still non-GMO, Identity Preserved (IP) canola crops being cultivated, and NOW chooses to use only these crops, and the resultant canola oil, for our Ellyndale Organics™ Non-GMO Canola Oil.