The recent popularity of rapeseed oil, in conjunction a flurry of both positive and negative assertions about its value, leaves many health-conscious people wondering, “Is rapeseed oil healthy for you?”
What Is Rapeseed Oil?
What is known as rapeseed oil in the U.K. and Europe is typically labelled “canola oil,” or even simply “vegetable oil,” in the U.S. and Canada.
The oil is drawn from the black seeds of the rapeseed plant, a member of the brassica family.
Other brassicas, like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, share with rapeseed high health benefits, and the oil of rapeseed is among the most nutritious in existence.
Varieties of Rapeseed Oil
There are two types of rapeseed oil on the market, both of which are extraordinarily healthy and excellent for cooking.
The standard variety of rapeseed oil is typically just labelled as vegetable oil, but you can identify it as derived from rapeseed by simply scanning the ingredients list.
The standard form is manufactured on a massive scale by means of heat-aided extraction and step-by-step refinement.
The second kind of rapeseed oil is generally labelled as virgin, extra virgin, or premium. It is produced on a more modest scale by means of cold-pressed, mechanical extraction.
Cold pressed rapeseed oil will cost more, but its peculiar flavor and distinctive texture are deemed by many to justify the added cost.
A Word About Fats
While fats and oils have acquired a bad reputation, the truth is that only the wrong kinds of fat or too-large amounts of fat are truly harmful.
The fat found in butter or that dripped off your chicken into the bottom of the baking pan is definitely unhealthy, but many other fats are essential to the proper functioning of your body.
Some of the good effects of good fats include:
- They are a source of energy.
- They help to transport many soluble vitamins.
- The increase body warmth and shield internal organs.
Saturated fats can raise cholesterol levels and contribute to poor cardiovascular health, but unsaturated fats actually help maintain proper cholesterol levels and bolster heart health.
Unsaturated fatty acids come in two types: mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated. The latter are also referred to as “essential fatty acids” and cannot be produced by the body.
That is, you must ingest essential fatty acids or you simply will not have them. Both mono- and poly- unsaturated fats are necessary to a healthy, balanced diet.
One rule of thumb that will help you distinguish between harmful saturated and helpful unsaturated fat involves viewing them at room temperature.
The saturated fats will likely be solid, while the unsaturated will be in a liquid state.
The Health Benefits of Rapeseed Oil
All oils contain a mixture of saturated and unsaturated fats, but one or the other will typically dominate.
Rapeseed oil is packed with the both poly- and mono- unsaturated fat but low in saturated fat.
Rapeseed oil has many health benefits, including the following:
- It is high in the essential fatty acids omegas 3, 6, and 9.
- Its omega 3 level is 10 times that of olive oil.
- It has the lowest saturated fat levels of any oil, half that of olive oil.
- It is an excellent source of vitamins E and K.
- It has virtually no trans-fats.
- It has no artificial preservatives.
- It is not genetically modified.
These health benefits are accessible to almost everyone since rapeseed oil fits well into a vegetarian, kosher, halal, or gluten-free diet.
Using Rapeseed Oil for Cooking
Since rapeseed oil has an exceptionally high smoke/burn point, it can be used to cook food at very high temperatures.
The high heat will not break down its fats and destroy its flavor and texture. Rapeseed oil has a much higher burn point than does olive oil.
Rapeseed oil is found in a wide range of naturally delicious flavors. It is not only good for frying, baking, roasting, and deep fat frying.
It is also commonly used cold in salad dressings or as a flavorful topping.
Some helpful ideas on how to use rapeseed oil, beyond what has already been mentioned, include the following:
- Use, but use sparingly. Even healthy oils like rapeseed oil are 99% fat and contain about 100 calories per tablespoon.
- Experiment with different brands of rapeseed oil to discover varying flavors.
- When used to roast foods, heat rapeseed oil in the pan first so the food will absorb less oil as it roasts.
- Use rapeseed oil instead of butter when baking to reduce your saturated fat intake.
- Put rapeseed oil on pizza either before or after cooking for a delicious taste.
- Use rapeseed oil to stir-fry vegetables.
- Use rapeseed oil cold in marinades, dips, and sauces.
Storing Rapeseed Oil
First of all, check the expiration date. Oils should be used within 12 months of purchase in most cases.
Secondly, since light, heat, and air can harm oils, store your rapeseed oil in a cool, dark room. Always keep it tightly sealed when not in use.
The flavor and nutrients will be better preserved if these instructions are followed.
What If I Have a Rapeseed Oil Allergy?
A few studies have popularized the idea that rapeseed oil is particularly allergenic.
This conclusion, however, strongly conflicts with other data. There is no strong evidence that demonstrates rapeseed oil to be detrimental to human health.
Of course, with any food item, there is always the risk of an allergy, but the claim that rapeseed oil is more prone to this problem than other types of oil is unsubstantiated.
Rapeseed oil, also known as canola oil, is one of the healthiest oils you can buy. It is widely available and relatively inexpensive.
It has long been overshadowed in the culinary world by olive oil, but this is beginning to change. Many chefs and nutritionists now highly recommend it.
Its high unsaturated and low saturated fat proportions are virtually unbeatable. It cooks well at high temperatures and tastes great cold.
While a very few people may be allergic to it, it recommends itself to most as a healthy and delicious alternative to other types of edible oils.
If you want to buy rapeseed oil, then there is an excellent selection on Amazon with thousands of customer reviews that are fun to browse through.
It is also available in most health food stores.
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