Being a vegan, you have to look for special products to substitute animal foods. What is more, if you follow a vegan diet, everything you are going to eat should be not only cruelty-free but also healthy.
I think that you try to use only vegetable oils in cooking and baking. Maybe you’ve heard or even used the canola one, which is popular nowadays.
What is Canola Oil?
Canola is a crop, its seeds have a low level of erucic acid and are the primary source for oil. It belongs to the crucifers’ family, because of the form of its yellow flowers. The plant was selected from rapeseed.
The name canola consists of two words: the first “can” is from Canada, and the second is from “oil.” Canada has been producing it since 1970.
This oil has a yellow color and neutral flavor.
How is it Made?
Canola oil processing steps:
- This process is important for canola seed and helps to get rid of impurities and improves oil quality.
- The thickness of the flake should be not more than 0.3mm because it influences the oil yield.
- Usually, this process takes 15-20 minutes. The temperature for canola flakes is about 88°C.
- On this step, the press machine compresses the seeds into canola meal and at the same time removes the oil.
- Solvent extraction. Hexane or chloroform and methanol help to remove the remaining oil after the work of the press machine.
- Now it’s time to add different acids and remove fatty acids and phospholipids. There are also two processes as decolorization and deodorization. The first one is for clear color, and the second makes oil free from odor substances.
Canola oil doesn’t have a lot of vitamins and minerals.
Here are its nutrition facts per 100g:
- Calories 884 (44% of RDA)
- Total fat 100g (500% of RDA)
- Saturated fat 7g
- Monosaturated fat 29,6g
- Polyunsaturated fat 58,9g
- Trans fat 0,1g
- Vitamin E 27,34mg (182% of RDA)
- Vitamin K 71,3mg (59% of RDA)
Is Canola Oil Vegan?
As you can see, the production of this oil doesn’t include any animal-derived ingredients. It is extracted from the rapeseed plant. So, you can be sure that canola oil is veggie-friendly and is perfect for cooking and baking on a vegan diet.
But is canola oil vegan if it is a spray version? Yes, it is, but don’t forget to look at the list of ingredients. Usually, it’s just a spray option of the same oil, and there are no animal derivatives.
Is canola oil margarine vegan? Spreads made of it are almost always free from milk. But if you want to buy it, choose one labeled vegan.
Canola Oil Benefits
Scientists are still discussing the good and bad points of this product. But you should always keep in mind that most canola crops are genetically modified.
Here is the list of its potential benefits:
- It is an excellent source of monosaturated fat, which can reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood. It also prevents the development of cardiovascular diseases.
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and omega-3 fatty acids are of high importance for our body. The human organism can’t make ALA, so we have to get it with food. These acids protect our eyes, brain and nervous system. They also prevent the buildup of cholesterol and reduce the risk of cancer, heart attack, and stroke. You can easily chop vegetables or fruit with a food processor, dress it with canola oil and get the healthiest salad.
- Vitamins E and K help to fight against different skin problems, like acne, wrinkles, and blemishes.
- Light texture, neutral flavor, and high smoke point make canola oil perfect for cooking.
- The oil can help to get rid of inflammation caused by arthritis, asthma or bowel disorders.
- This product can reduce abdominal fat and benefits the metabolism in our body.
Canola Oil Risks
Despite its benefits, canola oil also has a list of side effects.
Here are its potential risks:
- Rich in Omega-6. These fats are as important for our body as omega-3. Modern food is high in omega-6 and low in omega-3 because of the canola oil. The healthy recommended intake of these fats should be 1:1. The imbalance of them can lead to Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, and heart problems.
- GMO. Rapeseed plant in the USA and Canada is genetically modified. In the 1990s, the manufacturer introduced genetically modified rapeseed plants that were patented by Monsanto. Despite some scientists think that GMO food is harmless to our health, there is still a risk. There are no researches showing its complete safety. 
- Highly refined. A lot of chemicals are used in the production of canola oil. Refining removes the significant amount of fatty acids, vitamin, and antioxidants from the product. But you can find cold-pressed canola oil on sale, which is better than the refined one.
- Trans fats. Canola oil contains it, but, usually, we don’t know about it. If there are less than 0,5g of trans fats per serving, it will be labelled as 0g. According to recent research, one tablespoon of oil contains 0,6% of artificial trans fats. But the recommended intake of these fatty acids is less than 1% of all calories. So you reach your daily limit only with one tablespoon. Trans fats are harmful and this oil may be the reason for different types of heart diseases.
- Synthetic antioxidants. To keep canola oil fresh for a long time, producing companies use preservatives like TBHQ, BHA, BHT. Most of the modern food contains them. The consumption of small doses is safe, but people usually exceed their limit. These synthetic antioxidants in the oil may cause tumors in the stomach and liver.
- It can reduce antioxidant protection. Our body has first-line antioxidants, which help to remove free radicals from the blood. The consumption of canola oil can slow down their activity. As a result, we have inflammations, skin aging, and other diseases.
- Memory impairments. Our brain has synapses, which work as connectors between neurons and cells. Canola oil weakens synaptic integrity, that’s why it can lead to Alzheimer’s diseases.
- Oil may shorten your life. The reason for it is canola low antioxidant capacity. Oil contains a high level of phytosterols. The daily overdose of them can cause heart diseases, which result in death.
- Insulin resistance. The consumption of canola oil can develop diabetes. It makes our body produce more insulin, and in this way, we become resistant to it.
- It harms our blood vessels. First of all, it provokes endothelial dysfunction. The work of these cells is essential to our blood and well-being. This disease is the first stage of atherosclerosis, which causes deaths all around the world.
- It can raise your blood pressure. This effect is connected with endothelial dysfunction and low level of antioxidants.
- High heat damages the inherent fatty acids so the oil may lose all its benefits if used for baking. Anyway, there are some brands which are perfect for cooking when you’ll be using high heat.
- Rapeseed plant contains very high levels of erucic acid, which may cause health problems.
Well, canola oil has more potential risks than benefits. To clearly understand how it affects our health, we need more researches. Unfortunately, this oil is not studied well, and all its pros and cons are just hypothesis.
Popular Canola Oil Brands
Now you know all canola oil side effects, but what to do to avoid them? The answer is simple, look for the alternative or choose non-GMO brands. Usually, it is labeled as organic canola oil.
If your oil isn’t non-GMO certified, don’t buy it. With so many oils in the market, you have many options if you need healthy vegan oils.
This high-quality oil is made in the USA and is non-GMO certified. There are no hazardous chemicals, and it has a high level of antioxidants and omega-3. It is suitable for cooking due to its neutral flavor. The bottle is also BPA-free. It can be the right choice for vegans.
It’s rich in Omega 3 and doesn’t smoke. This makes it good for high heat cooking.
The brand produces cold-pressed oil, which is not genetically modified. The crop is grown without any pesticides and herbicides. It has a low level of saturated fat and a good ratio of omega-6 and omega3. You can use it for baking and frying or add to your salads.
Crisco brand produces 100% natural canola oil. Their product is cruelty-free and doesn’t contain any preservatives or animal derivatives. There are no artificial additives and preservatives, and it is also free from cholesterol. You can use it for any needs in the kitchen.
Is Crisco canola oil vegan? Yes, it is. But is it healthy and GMO-free? We don’t know it, because the company doesn’t give any information about it. So, you’d better choose another brand.
Spectrum Organic Canola Oil is non-GMO verified.
Like other oils, it has a neutral taste and is perfect for sautéing, baking and dressings. It is suitable for a vegan diet.
At first sight, everything is good.
The company warns that by consuming this product you can get lead.
This chemical causes cancer. Well, do you still want to buy it?
Is Wesson Canola Oil vegan? Yes, because it is 100% pure and USDA certified. It has a mild taste, and you can add it to any recipe. This oil can be an excellent replacement for melted butter or margarine.
Although the company claims its oil to be natural, there are no words about GMO. It means this product is likely to contain it, which makes it unhealthy.
To make their product, Solio Family uses free from GMO canola seed. The company buys the plant by the local farms in the USA. The expeller pressed method helps to save antioxidants and nutrients. There are no chemicals, gluten, and wheat.
Another famous brand of canola oil is Cibaria. It’s an Italian company that uses crop grown according to the European Union rules. Their canola oil is non-GMO verified, expeller pressed and made without solvents. It contains no artificial preservatives and is cholesterol-free.
365 Day Value
Canola oil produced by this company is certified non-GMO, kosher, and healthy vegan. It is expeller pressed, so you can be sure there are no chemicals. You can heat it to 360 degrees, because of its high heat tolerance. This oil is suitable for a large variety of dishes, like others.
Canola Oil Alternatives
As you know, canola oil hasn’t been studied well. If you are afraid of its risks, it’s better to look for a product which can replace it. Here you can find the best oils for baking and frying.
One of them you can use as an alternative for canola oil:
- Olive oil. This is one of the healthiest substitutes for canola. It is rich in monosaturated fat and has a high level of antioxidants. Is olive oil vegan? Yes, it is derived from a fruit. Extra virgin olive oil made by cold-pressing is the best choice. It will be suitable for any healthy vegan recipe.
- Sunflower oil. This product is the most widespread in the world. Is sunflower oil vegan? Yes, it is, but sometimes it is not as healthy as others. As any vegetable oil it is high monosaturated fatty acids and vitamins, like E and K. You can add it to any food, even in cakes to replace butter.
- Safflower oil. It contains less saturated fat than other oils. It has a neutral taste and high smoke point, which make it perfect for cooking. There are two types of safflower oil. The first one is high-oleic, that is great for frying. The second is high-linoleic, you’d better use it only for salad dressings.
- Coconut oil. In comparison with canola, it is rich in saturated fat. At the same time, this coconut oil is considered to have a lot of health benefits. You can easily use it in cooking, frying, and baking.
- Avocado oil. It is high in oleic acid and is extracted from the avocado flesh. This fruit is unique and contains antioxidants and vitamins A, K, D. Due to its high smoke point, it is suitable for frying. So, you can cook any food with this oil. What is more, it is hypoallergenic.
- It is natural vegetable oil, without trans fats and cholesterol. It has a pleasant nutty taste and is excellent for deep-frying. Peanut oil is also rich in antioxidants, healthy fatty acids and vitamin E.
- Mashed banana. This fruit is a vegan oil substitute. It can easily replace canola in your kitchen. If you need a half cup of oil, use the same amount of mashed banana. 
Is canola oil vegan? Yes, because there are no animal traces. But is it safe for health? Nobody knows with certainty, because its benefits and risks haven’t been examined well. But if you like this oil, always buy only organic one to avoid GMO. Remember that there exist healthy alternatives to it.