In the 1960s, Canadian scientists attempted to eliminate the undesirable elements found in rapeseed and used traditional plant-breeding techniques to come up with the canola plant. Although the canola and rapeseed plants are often confused with one another, they are not the same. Each produces its own oil, and canola oil is promoted for its heart-healthy benefits. Canola oil may be "expeller pressed" from the plant or chemically extracted.
Canola plants stand between 3 and 5 feet tall and produce pods that contain seeds. These are harvested to make canola oil. Canola plants have distinctive yellow flowers that make beautiful crops. The seeds are brownish-black and about the same size as poppy seeds, with around 44 percent oil. Canola is in the same family as brussel sprouts, broccoli, mustard and cauliflower.
When canola oil, or any vegetable oil, is expeller pressed, it is produced with a machine that uses continuous pressure and friction to press oil through a caged cavity. Screw drives on the machine compress the seeds and create heat that can range as high as 210 degrees Fahrenheit. Expeller-pressed canola oil is produced without the use of any chemicals during extraction; it is strictly a mechanical process. Many conventional oils, on the other hand, use a chemical-extraction method that uses external heat and leaves behind hexane or other petroleum-based solvents in the oil residue.
Canola oil is a good source of two essential fatty acids that the body doesn't make on its own. The first is alpha-linoleic acid, or ALA, which is an omega-3 fatty acid. The second is linoleic acid, or LA, which is an omega-6 fatty acid. Canola oil does not contains cholesterol or trans fats, and has one of the lowest levels of saturated fat among all vegetable oils. One serving of canola oil also contains approximately 16 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin D, according to the U.S. Canola Association.
Canola Oil Uses
Incorporate expeller-pressed canola oil in a variety of culinary pursuits. Use it to make salad dressings, saute foods, create stir-fried dishes and bake treats. It has a high smoking point, so it is ideal for making deep-fried foods, such as french fries and onion rings. Virtually every cooking process that utilizes oil will benefit from using canola oil as the vehicle for cooking or in the recipe itself.