Both canola oil and olive oil are good sources of unsaturated fats, which are healthier than saturated fats and trans fats. However, there are some important differences between the two that may make one more appropriate than the other for certain uses. Although canola and olive oil are considered "healthy" fats, be sure that no more than 20 to 35 percent of your total daily calorie consumption comes from fat sources.
Canola oil is made from canola seeds, which come from the Brassica family of plants. Cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli come from the same family. Canola seeds are derived from rapeseeds, but were especially cross-bred to eliminate many undesirable components of rapeseed, such as glucosinolates, which give rapeseeds a bitter flavor, and erucic acids. Canola oil must meet specific regulations regarding erucic acid a glucosinolate content, with no more than 2 percent erucic acid and 30 micromoles per gram of glucosinolates. Canola oil is an omega-3 polyunsaturated fat.
Olive tree cultivation is a 6,000-year-old practice, according to Tess Mallos' book, "Olive Oil." Spain, Italy and Greece are the current leading producers. In addition to its culinary uses, olive oil is also used as a body cleanser and, in ancient times, it was used for lighting.
To make the oil, olives are crushed and pressed. Cold-pressed olive oil is pressed at low temperatures in order to maintain nutrients. The olives undergo several pressing phases. Oil taken from the first pressing has the most nutrients and is commonly labeled as extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat.
Both canola and olive oil are known for their culinary uses. Canola oil has a milder flavor than olive oil, which tends to retain some of the olive flavor after it is pressed. For this reason, canola oil is more appropriate for baking and other dishes that require a flavorless source of fat. In other dishes, such as pasta sauces or salad dressings, olive oil's flavor may be desirable, particularly if the oil is of high quality. Canola oil also has a somewhat higher smoke point than olive oil and is, therefore, more suitable for frying at high temperatures.
According to FitDay, olive oil is generally considered to be healthier than canola oil. It contains a variety of nutrients, including antioxidants, polyphenols and omega-3 fatty acids. It has been shown to decrease the chances of developing type 2 diabetes. However, canola oil also has a variety of health benefits, and the United States Food and Drug Administration has acknowledged its effectiveness as a healthy replacement for saturated fats. It is a particularly healthy choice for those with high blood pressure, since it contains no cholesterol.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Polyunsaturated Fats and Monounsaturated Fats
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Dietary Fat
- CanolaInfo.org: Truths and Myths About Canola Oil
- CanolaInfo.org: Agriculture, Growing and Processing Canola
- "Olive Oil"; Tess Mallos; 2007
- FitDay: Olive Oil vs. Canola Oil
- Medioimages/Photodisc/Valueline/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.