Canola oil is the third most used vegetable oil in the world today says Ritika Samaddar

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NewZNew (Chandigarh) : More and more people, both young and old, are increasingly health-aware and taking steps to improve their lifestyle. Meal plans, fitness regimes, weight loss and trimming abdominal fat are some of the measures they are adopting to improve health and reduce the risk of lifestyle diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Eating right to stay healthy is now almost a universal mantra.

Ritika_SamaddarAt the very core of this effort is the quality of food people purchase and consume. This comes with increased awareness about nutritional values of food, recommended daily allowances, how to understand food labels and how to access healthy recipes from a variety of cuisines. Consumers are choosing all their ingredients carefully, especially cooking oils. They are considering the oil’s health and culinary benefits. People are also growing aware of the difference between healthy and unhealthy fats.

This is where canola oil comes in. Experts consider it to be one of the healthiest cooking oils in the world based on numerous studies by reputable researchers.

Canola oil comes from the crushed seeds of the canola plant, which is a member of the Brassica family that includes broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. It was developed in Canada through traditional plant breeding in the 1960s to remove two undesirable components (erucic acid and glucosinolates) found in rapeseed. To acknowledge these differences, the new plant earned a new name, canola – a contraction of “Canadian” and “ola” meaning “oil.” Although canola oil is often confused with rapeseed, the two crops and their oils are distinctly different. In fact, there is an internationally regulated definition of canola that differentiates it from rapeseed:  it contains less than 2 percent erucic acid and less than 30 micromoles of glucosinolates (a bitter-tasting organic compound).

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Canola oil, with its healthy and versatile profile, is the third most used vegetable oil in the world today.  Read on to learn more about the many health and culinary benefits this oil has to offer:

  • Minimal  “bad” fats: Compared to common culinary oils, canola oil has the least saturated fat (7 per cent) – less than a third that of rice bran oil (25 per cent) and half that of sunflower (12 per cent), olive (15 per cent), soybean (15 per cent) and groundnut (19 per cent) oils. Canola oil is also free of trans fat and, like all vegetable oils, has zero cholesterol.
  • Helps protect the heart: According to scientific studies, 1.5 tablespoons (19 grams) of canola oil a day may be enough to help keep the cardiologist away, when used in place of saturated fat. That is for just a few rupees a day. The US Food and Drug Administration authorized a qualified health claim for canola oil’s ability to reduce the risk of heart disease when used instead of saturated fat.
  • Helps control blood sugar: Canola oil can help control blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes when included in a low-glycemic index diet (one that minimizes changes in blood sugar levels), according to published research, because of its high monounsaturated fat content. Adding canola oil to the diet is a simple way of helping control blood sugar.
  • May reduce belly fat: Canola oil was shown in a clinical trial to lower belly fat when used in place of selected oil blends in a heart-healthy diet for weight maintenance. Belly fat is one of the five criteria for metabolic syndrome. Reducing it can decrease blood pressure, blood sugar and triglycerides and increase in HDL cholesterol. Those who consumed canola oil on a daily basis for four weeks lowered their belly fat by 1.6 percent.
  • Good source of heart-smart fats: Canola oil is rich in two polyunsaturated fats, omega-3 (alpha-linolenic acid) and omega-6 (linoleic acid). These fats are considered essential because the body cannot make them on its own. Of all common cooking oils, canola oil has the most plant-based omega-3 fat (11 per cent). It substantially reduces total and LDL cholesterol levels when used in place of saturated fat.
  • Good source of vitamins E and K: Canola oil is a good source of these fat-soluble vitamins. Vitamin E is an antioxidant and vitamin K plays a key role in healthy blood clotting.
  • May protect against breast and colon cancers: Early research indicates the potential of canola oil to protect against breast and colon cancers.
  • Canola oil is a culinary delight: It can be heated to a higher temperature than most other oils before it starts to smoke (smoke point of 242 °C). This makes it ideal for high heat applications like sautéing and deep-frying. Its light texture, mild taste and colourless appearance are a good match for any type of cooking. Its neutral taste does not overwhelm the flavours of other ingredients in a dish, allowing the spices to work their magic and enhance the flavours.
  • Canola oil enhances baking: The delicious nature of baked goods is enhanced by canola oil providing them with a moist, soft texture with no cholesterol and little saturated fat. Replacing solid fats like butter or lard with canola oil allows for a reduction in both total and saturated fat. In fact, total fat can drop by up to 25 percent, sparing calories without sacrificing goodness.
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With cardiovascular disease a leading cause of death across the world, there is a need to improve our lifestyles and shift to healthier oils in our diets. Canola is a good choice of oil given its heart-healthy qualities, suitability with all cooking methods and cuisines, and affordability among other healthy oils. This is why and more and more people around the world are now making it a part of their kitchen.

Saturated fat: raises bad (LDL) cholesterol in the body, which increases the risk of heart disease. Canola oil has the least saturated fat of all common culinary oils.

Trans fat: raises LDL cholesterol and lowers good (HDL) cholesterol, which further increases the risk of heart disease. Canola oil contains zero trans fat.

Monounsaturated Fat: may reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol when used in place of saturated fat. It may also help control blood sugar.

Polyunsaturated fats: may reduce the risk of heart disease by decreasing total and LDL cholesterol when used in place of saturated fat. Essential for human growth and development. Two PUFA families: omega-3s and omega-6s.

Alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3): an essential fat that helps protect the heart. Canola oil has the most of alpha-linolenic acid  of any common cooking oil.

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