Canola Oil Alternatives

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

What is canola oil ?

If you've ever taken a road trip through south-west Western Australia, south- eastern Australia, or northern New South Wales then you've more than likely driven past a field of bright yellow canola flowers. The oil is then made by crushing the canola seed and separating the oil liquid from the solid seeds.

According to nutrition-and-you.com, canola oil is considered one of the healthiest oils as it is cholesterol free, low in trans and saturated fats, and contains Omega-3 fatty acids all of which are good for heart health. It's not just the health benefits that have aided this oil to become one of the most popular and regularly used; canola oil is also very versatile. The neutral flavour of canola oil and its high smoke point have made it suitable for a variety of cooking techniques including baking, sauting, and pan frying. Given the above it's understandable that canola oil is often substituted for vegetable oil.

While there are health benefits to the use of canola oil, Health line reports on the health concerns arising out of canola oil, its genetic modification and the chemicals used to separate the oil from the seed. Although the genetic modifications were necessary, as the rapeseed plant had many chemicals that made it inedible,and the modifications resulted in the new canola product there are still concerns in the medical community about health risks to the kidney and liver, high blood pressure and stroke and. If the genetic modifications worry you, then opting for a more natural alternative may be best. Foods for Better Health suggest several substitutes for canola oil:

  1. Olive oil
  2. Safflower oil
  3. Coconut oil
  4. Sunflower oil
  5. Almond oil
  6. Cottonseed oil
  7. Corn oil
  8. Soybean oil
  9. Avocado oil
  10. Peanut oil
  11. Applesauce/banana mash
1. Olive oil

Olive oil is produced from pressed olives and is one of the more natural oils. Apart from its delicious taste, olive oil has many health benefits including preventing breast cancer, diabetes and arthritis, controlling cholesterol, weight loss, and digestive system cleaning. You should be careful when substituting olive oil for canola oil as the latter has a stronger flavour and may impact the overall flavour of the dish. If you require a substitute for baking, then you should opt for a light olive oil so that the flavour is neutral.

2. Safflower oil

Flavourless, colourless, and with a high smoke point safflower oil is a great choice for pan frying and baking. Some of the benefits associated with this oil include preventing severe PMS, managing blood sugar to prevent diabetes and promoting healthy hair. Unfortunately, it's not healthy for everyone. If you have blood clotting problems this is definitely not a suitable substitute for you as it is a blood thinner and will dramatically slow down blood clotting. It should also be avoided if you have allergies to ragweed and any other plant from that family.

3. Coconut oil

Coconut oil contains is a particularly health oil, despite being in solid form at room temperature. My Body and Soul reports that some of the health benefits associated with coconut oil include improving the digestive system, supporting weight loss and the nervous system thanks to its medium chain of fatty acids. A further positive is that coconut oil can be substituted for canola oil in the same quantities and therefore there is not need to calculate the new amount.

4. Sunflower oil

Sunflower oil is a good source of polyunsaturated fats which helps with preventing type 2 diabetes and improve cholesterol. It is also known to improve heart health, contain significant amounts of Vitamin E for healthy skin, prevent cancer and boost energy levels. All-in-all the benefits are remarkable and it's a great substitute for canola oil. If you're excited to use sunflower oil it'll work well as a substitute for baking, browning and pan frying.

5. Almond oil

Almond oil is extracted from sweet almonds and is high in vitamin E, vitamin B, monounsaturated and linoleic fatty acids, omega 6, omega 9 and zinc. This combination of goodies will deliver numerous health benefits. This oil has a smooth, buttery texture and a slightly nutty taste when baked, both of which are perfect additions to your next batch of cupcakes. Unfortunately given the flavour it adds to a dish it might not be suitable as an alternative for all recipes.

6. Cottonseed oil

This vegetable oil is also known as American original oil and has been in use since the 1880s. Cottonseed oil is a good all-round oil thanks to its neutral taste, and can be used for deep frying, baking, mayonnaise, sauces, salad dressings, and marinades.

7. Corn oil

Organic, cold pressed corn oil is a healthy oil option because you benefit from mono and polyunsaturated fats that help balance cholesterol levels. This oil is extracted from the germ of the corn plant, and therefore in addition to being the healthiest substitute it is also the most affordable. Corn oil is particularly suited to deep frying given its high smoke point.

8. Soybean oil

Most soybean oil is refined, blended and sometimes hydrogenated. Given that it has such a neutral flavour soybean oil works well in salad dressings, shortening and baking. It is another alternative that has a high smoke point, making it great for frying.

9. Avocado oil

While avocado oil is one of the best oils for frying most people struggle to find it given only a hand of local health food stores stock it. If you are lucky enough to find a bottle of avocado oil then try it out as a drizzle over a salad or roast vegetables, and see how the creamy avocado taste shines through the oil.

10. Peanut oil

Peanut oil is quite potent and will leave a strong peanut smell and flavour on any foods it touches, therefore impacting the overall flavour of your dish. As a result, peanut oil is suitable to use as a frying substitute, when tossing a stir-fry, or cooking Asian inspired cuisine. Although, it may be overpowering when substituted into baking recipes or dishes that include a variety of subtle flavours.

11. A non-oil substitute: Applesauce or mashed banana

So far, all the substitutes to canola oil listed above have been other oil- based products most of which have particularly potent flavours that make them unsuitable for baking. However, for the healthy people, there is an 11th alternative to consider and it is the healthiest substitute for canola oil and is exclusive to baking. Applesauce or mashed banana can be substituted for canola oil using a 1 to 1 ratio.

Read more on: canola oil, canola oil substitute


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