Vegetable oils are essential to any cooking, regardless of the cuisine. Besides lending flavor to the dish, some of these edible oils are indeed considered healthy for consumption. This is because they contain some essential fatty acids needed for the body. However, , a common question arises: Is vegetable oil vegan? Some people feel that certain oils use animal fats to provide that extra tasty flavor. Is Canola oil vegan then?
What is Canola Oil?
This breed of vegetable oil is extracted from the canola crop seeds, which are believed to have very low levels of erucic acid. The crop is part of the crucifers’ family of flowers which are yellow-colored flowers. Also, Canada is a major producer of the oil since 1970 and perhaps this is why the name Canola comes from “can” taken from Canada and “ol” taken from oil.
How is Canola Oil Made?
To correctly understand how is canola oil vegan, let’s take a look at its exact preparation process. Canola oil is processed to help remove impurities from the canola seed and also improve the quality of the oil derived. The canola seed flake taken for the process must not be over 0.3 mm thick as it impacts the oil yield. Generally, the oil processing procedure may take not more than 15-20 minutes. The temperature of canola flakes is ideally 88°C.
Following are the various steps involved in the processing stage:
- The press machine at the oil factory compresses the seeds into canola meal, extracting the oil at the same time.
- At the solvent extraction stage, hexane or chloroform and methanol are used to extract the oil that remains after the press machine has done its work.
- Different acids are added at this stage and fatty acids and phospholipids are removed from the oil. Two more processes known as decolorisation and deodorisation take place at this stage.
- Decolorisation helps lend a clear transparent color to the oil while the latter makes the oil odor-free.
This vegan oil is processed and so has an expiry date to it. So, does it go bad? Yes, it does. But how can you take care of it is well-explained in our article on ‘Does Canola Oil go bad?‘
Is Canola Oil Healthy for a Cooking Oil?
While we’re at the vegan subject, let’s not forget that vegans are strong promoters of healthy eating and living. This is why they like to carefully scrutinise every little thing that goes into their cooking, such as vegan cooking oils. Speaking of canola oil here, let’s take a quick look at whether this oil does good to the human body upon consumption.
Originally, the oil did contain more than 54% erucic acid; however, the current varieties of food-grade canola oil now come with extremely low quantities of the acid are therefore deemed safe for consumption.
Well, there’s a mixed response to this question – canola oil isn’t too good nor too bad for health. So, let’s look at both, advantages and disadvantages of canola oil.
Since good news is always welcomed, let’s look at the good part of the oil first:
- Canola oil contains omega 3 fats
- Low saturated fat content – its common knowledge that saturated fats increase LDL cholesterol in the body which is bad so canola oil’s pretty safe on that account.
- Phytosterols presence – They help lower the absorption of cholesterol in the body.
Now coming to the not-so-healthy aspects of the oil which need to be taken into consideration before picking a bottle at the store:
- Highly processed oil – Any oil that involves high processing, such as this one, ends up removing the essential nutrients present in it. All that’s left over for final consumption is fats (unhealthy, of course).
- Presence of Hexane – This is a commonly used solvent in the oil’s extraction process. Now, while most of the Hexane does get removed in the process, small trace amounts do stay back and studies suggest that ingestion of Hexane isn’t healthy.
As Canola Oil is less healthy, people tend to look for products that contains healthier oils like sunflower oil and olive oil (Check Olive Oil’s Vegan Status with us). For example Veggie straws, they have Olive Oil in them but, are veggie straws vegan? Check that out with me.
Nutritional Facts about Canola Oil
As mentioned above, the oil doesn’t seem to be too healthy, missing a number of vital vitamins and minerals. The nutrition facts of the oil per 100mg quantity are as follows:
- Calories – 884
- Total fat – 100g
- Saturated fat – 7g
- Monosaturated fat – 29.6g
- Polyunsaturated fat – 58.9g
- Trans fat – 0.1g
- Vitamin E – 27.34mg
- Vitamin K – 71.3mg
Canola oil is safe for vegans but may not be entirely safe for long-time consumption by anyone for that matter. Of course, there are healthier substitutes for canola oil available which can be explored.
You can use canola oil for several purposes. Like using it as a vegetable oil in food as well as for other products like using it in your homemade cleaning solutions or using it in your homemade vegan deodorant.