Organic canola oil is a popular choice for people who want to cook in a healthy way while honoring the health of the planet as well.
What is Canola Oil?
Canola oil is widely considered the healthiest choice for a cooking oil. The canola oil we know today was originally developed in Canada from a special strain of rapeseed cultivar. The seed is what is actually used to produce the oil, which has low saturated fat and almost 60 percent monounsaturated fat content. Monounsaturated fat is considered the healthiest fat for people to consume. The oil also has a good amount of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are thought to be beneficial for heart health.
Why Go Organic?
The trouble with conventionally grown rapeseed is that the vast majority of the crop is genetically modified. For instance, about 80 percent of the canola produced in Canada comes from genetically modified plants developed for their resistance to herbicides.
People who are interested in eating organic foods might be uncomfortable knowing they are eating genetically modified products, because the health implications of eating modified plants is not known. It's a good idea to see out organic canola oil to prevent consumption of genetically modified foods as well as the herbicides that were being sprayed on those crops.
Finding Organic Canola Oil
If you live somewhere with a decent sized organic food store, you should be able to find organic canola oil without too much trouble. Popular brands include:
Even Pam has a cooking spray made with organic canola oil, which you may be able to find at your regular supermarket.
If you're having trouble finding organic oil where you live, try Amazon.com or one of the online organic stores.
Genetically Modified Vs. Selectively Bred
The major distinction between organic and conventional canola oil, as mentioned earlier, hinges on genetic modification. Some people think that all canola oil comes from genetically modified seeds and thus should not be consumed by someone wanting an organic lifestyle.
The truth is that rapeseed was engineered to produce the kind of canola oil we are used to today, but it was modified the old-fashioned way. Selective breeding rather than genetic modification helped turn green, smelly and potentially dangerous old-fashioned canola oil into the product we are used to using today.
Organic canola is made from seeds (known now as canola seeds) that are altered from the original rapeseed plant, but do not involve any genetic modification to make the plants resistant to herbicide.
For some, this distinction is too fine for them to justify using canola oil. It is up to each individual consumer to consider the facts and choose the products that he or she sees as most beneficial.
The confusion between rapeseed oil and canola oil has lead to urban legends that canola oil isn't safe to eat because of its association with mustard gas. Though the rape plant is part of the mustard family, so are radishes.
While the use of unrefined rapeseed oil may be associated with a higher risk of lung cancer, refined canola oil is perfectly healthy and safe for people to use and consume.
Using Canola Oil
Canola oil is a great choice for an everyday oil. You can cook with it at high temperatures, even if you're frying, or you can use it completely uncooked in salad dressings.
It is a good choice for people living an organic lifestyle because it doesn't impact the flavor of foods the way that olive oil can. The light taste means you'll still enjoy the flavor of the organic foods that you cook with it.
Canola oil is great for stir-fries or when you need to sear or sauté something at high temperature. It is great in salads from green to potato because it adds fat without adding a lot of flavor. It is the perfect choice for people who want a clean taste without the richness of olive oil or the nutty flavor of peanut oil, for instance.