Where does canola oil come from?

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Canola may be the best choice in oils.
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Canola oil is considered to be healthy by most nutritional authorities.

Canola oil was originally developed by natural crossbreeding from the rapeseed plant but it is no longer created that way. Canola oil is now produced from canola plants that contain very low levels of erucic acid.

Canola oil is generally recognized by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) as safe. It is high in monounsaturated fat and low in saturated fat, which makes canola oil a healthy choice and a safe one when it comes to oils, notes the Mayo Clinic. Another name for canola oil is Low Erucic Acid Rapeseed or LEAR oil.

The name canola oil is the designation given to a group of rapeseed cultivators, which are low in glucosinolates and erucic acid. Canola oil is considered healthy because it has the lowest content of saturated fatty acids among all vegetable oils and a moderate content of poly-unsaturated fatty acids.

Canola oil is derived from seeds that are pressed from a plant in the mustard family, much like a turnip or bok choy, that is called Brassica napus. The common name for this plant is rapeseed, which is Latin for turnip.

A hybrid plant was developed in Canada in the late 1960s and 1970s and canola oil is derived from this plant. At that time, a hybrid propagation technique was used that involved turnip rapeseed, black mustard and leaf mustard.

The original rapeseed plant contained high levels of erucic acid, which is a fatty acid that is foul-tasting and which had harmful health effects when consumed in high concentrations. It is toxic to humans.

In 1974, Baldur Steffanson, a professor at the University of Manitoba, introduced a new variety of rapeseed that contains very low levels of erucic acid and glucosinolate content. The oil was given the name canola for Canadian Oil, Low Acid. At present, canola oil contains less than one percent of erucic acid.

The Northern Canola Growers Association reports that canola oil is completely different genetically from rapeseed although the two plants are the same species.

Mayo Clinic: Canola Oil
American Dietetic Association

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