Rapeseed oil comes from a plant related to mustard, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and turnip, members of the Brassica family. Traditionally used as an industrial lubricant, an edible version -- marketed under the name canola oil -- was developed in the 1970s. The oil offers a neutral flavor that makes it useful for any number of cooking applications, from baking to sauteing to salad dressings.
You might choose rapeseed oil because it has a relatively low saturated fat content -- just 7 percent compared to the 14 percent found in olive oil and 51 percent in butter. Rapeseed oil possesses a high smoke point, so it's a better option than olive oil for deep frying and other high-heat cooking. Some chefs seek out high-end versions of rapeseed oil to use just like artisanal olive oils. Use these versions of rapeseed oil as a finishing oil to be drizzled over salads or pasta, or as a dipping sauce for fresh bread. Top-end versions do come with a high price tag, though, and offer a subtle, cabbage-y flavor.
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Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.