Canola – Canada’s Olive Oil

canola

Often when people think of healthy oils, they think of olive oil, one of the ‘star’ ingredients of the Mediterranean Diet. Canola oil is a great Prairie alternative (check out the ‘Head to Head’ comparison below). It’s low in saturated fats and high in omega-3 fatty acids, with a light texture and taste that compliments many fresh flavours.

In October 2006, the US Food and Drug Administration authorized a qualified health claim for canola oil based on its high percentage of unsaturated fat.  Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats from vegetable oils help lower cholesterol.  The polyunsaturated fat found in canola oil includes alpha linolenic acid (ALA), an essential omega-3 fatty acid.

Head to Head:  How the Nutrients Stack Up

Cooking and Salad Oils:  types of fat in grams /Tbsp

Fat                                Canola            Olive             Safflower            Corn             Coconut

Saturated                       0.9                         1.8                        0.8                      1.7                      11.8

Monounsaturated         8.2                        10.0                     10.2                       3.3                      0.8

Polyunsaturated            4.1                          1.2                         2.0                      8.0                      0.2

Trans                               0.0                          0.0                         0.0                      0.0                     0.0

Tips for Healthier Salads

Commercial salad dressings may be a signicant source of salt. To make your own low-salt salad dressing, whisk 2 Tbsp (30 mL) canola with 1 Tbsp (15 mL) vinegar of your choice and 1 Tbsp (15 mL) water. Add 1 tsp (5 mL) Dijon mustard, 1-2 tsp (5-10 mL) of herbs (such as Italian seasoning, tarragon or rosemary) and 1/4 tsp (1 mL) black pepper. Store in a jar with a tight lid. This recipe may be doubled or tripled, depending on your needs. One serving of 1 Tbsp (15 mL) contains 61 kcal, 6.9 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat) and 15 mg sodium.

Compare this with 1 serving of commercial regular Italian salad dressing, which contains 43 calories, 4.2 g fat (0.7 g saturated fat) and a whopping 243 mg sodium as well as 1.2 g sugar. Low calorie Italian dressing has only 11 kcal and 1 g fat, but still has 205 mg sodium and 0.7 g sugar. (Source: Dietitians of Canada)