Canola vs. Sunflower Oil: Which better Supports Heart Health?
Choosing the ‘right’ oil for cooking is very important if you want to maintain a healthy heart. You need to carefully analyze if the oil that you choose for your family has the characteristics needed to maintain and uphold a healthy heart and lifestyle.
When deciding which oil is right for your household, keep in mind these benefits of canola and sunflower oil for your heart and overall health.
How Do You Know Which Oil is Right?
Heart health is important for everyone, regardless of age. If you start taking care of your heart from an early age, you are less likely to encounter serious diseases such as a heart attack, a stroke, high blood pressure, or cholesterol, when you reach the latter part of your life.
There are many ways to start taking care of your heart even from a very young age. There are two main things you can do – exercise, and take care of your diet. But perhaps the most important way to start taking care of your heart health is to select the right oil for cooking purposes. Some oils have various health advantages.
In order for an oil to be right for cooking, it needs to meet a certain criteria. Generally, when you cook or fry at high temperatures, the oil you are frying with tends to break down into chemicals such as aldehydes and peroxides, which can be detrimental for health.
Certain oils are worse at handling high temperatures. Oils such as flax seed oil have a high polyunsaturated fat content, and don’t respond well to extremely high cooking temperatures.
It is therefore always best to rely on oils that contain low polyunsaturated fat content as well as lower saturated fat content for cooking, be it frying, stir-frying, grilling, baking, or sautéing.
The best oil in this regard is canola oil. In fact, various studies have proven that canola oil is perhaps the healthiest of all oils you can use to cook your food in.
If the oil isn’t being subject to high temperatures, then sunflower oil is also a healthy option. For example, if you only require oil as a dressing on top of salad or just to drizzle on top of pasta then you can even turn to sunflower oil.
Why Canola Oil?
In terms of heart health, canola oil might just be the winner. Here’s why canola oil is one of the best oils out there to maintain good heart health:
Canola oil is extracted from the crushed seeds of the canola plant. The main reason canola oil is so popular for cooking is its low saturated fat content.
According to statistics, canola oil contains only 7% saturated fat, compared to the 9% present in sunflower oil and the 14% in olive oil.
These figures help bust certain myths about sunflower oil and olive oil being healthier for cooking than canola oil.
Saturated fats are undesirable because they increase cholesterol levels in the body, and have been linked with the prevalence of coronary heart disease. The lower saturated fat content of canola oil makes it ideal for cooking purposes if you want to maintain low levels of cholesterol in the body.
Not only is canola oil low in saturated fat content, it is also higher in unsaturated fat content. Unsaturated fats are for the most part, good for your body.
Furthermore, canola oil has a high quantity of two polyunsaturated fatty acids that are both equally essential in your diet because your body is incapable of producing them organically – Linoleic acid (LA) , an omega-6 fatty acid and omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). In fact, after flaxseed oil, canola oil has the highest quantity of ALA present in any oil.
ALA has many benefits in terms of heart health. It helps reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, and keep blood pressure levels in the body low.
ALA is particularly important because your body is incapable of organically producing it. In fact, the benefits of canola oil for the heart are so widely known, that some manufacturers and sellers of canola oil include these details as a disclaimer on their bottles.
In addition, canola oil also has very high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids.
Compared to the other common vegetable oils the market, canola oil has the lowest levels of unhealthy fat and unlike other vegetable oils that are commonly used for cooking, canola oil has the lowest level of cholesterol.
Canola oil is also rich in vitamins E and K. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps reduce inflammation and ensures normal functioning of the body, while Vitamin K is essential for ‘normal’ blood clotting in the body.
How to Cook With Canola Oil
Canola oil is one of the most useful oils for cooking. It is perhaps the single most versatile cooking oil available in the market.
It has, a smooth texture, a light flavor, and an ability to withstand high cooking temperatures, and as a result can be used in a number of different cooking methods and dishes.
You can for example use canola oil as purely cooking oil, for grilling, baking, and stir-frying, or even sautéing purposes.
What Are the Myths Surrounding Canola Oil?
According to certain websites, canola oil has high erucic acid content. Erucic acid can be quite toxic to humans and can even cause various diseases such as blindness or a respiratory disorder.
This is untrue however because the erucic acid content present in canola oil is FDA approved.
What About Sunflower Oil?
Sunflower oil is a delicate, golden-colored vegetable oil. Similar to canola oil, sunflower oil is also one of the healthiest cooking oil options that you can choose from.
Sunflower oil is extracted from the seeds of the sunflower plant and has a very light flavor. Sunflower oil has a higher vitamin E content compared to any other vegetable oil on the market.
Sunflower oil was first cultivated back in the 4th century BCE. It has been in popular use ever since that time because of its many health benefits.
Similar to canola oil, sunflower oil has low saturated fat content, high polyunsaturated fats content and is for the most part, cholesterol free.
Sunflower oil is also higher in vitamin E and Omega-6 fats than any other vegetable oil, making it a healthy option for your home.
The nutritionist, Dr. Rupali Datta, has stated,
“While choosing cooking oil for your daily needs you must make sure that it is a good source of both monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Bear in mind that oils that are liquid at room temperature consist mostly of unsaturated fats which is why plant and vegetable based oils are the healthiest.”
Another great thing about sunflower oil is that it can withstand extremely high cooking temperatures. This makes it an ideal choice for cooking.
Over the past few years, there has been a whole lot of research on sunflower oil. This research has supported the idea that sunflower oil does, in fact, provide various health benefits, including benefits for the heart and skin.
Sunflower oil has various benefits. It can help promotes overall heart health, helps with digestion, promotes dental hygiene, helps cure respiratory disorders, reduces inflammation of the skin, boosts your immunity, helps with joint pain, and provides many other health benefits.
According to the American Heart Association, sunflower oil is one of those vegetable oils that have the least saturated fat content. Instead, sunflower oil is full of what are considered to be ‘good’ fats.
Furthermore, sunflower oil constitutes nearly 69% of polyunsaturated fats. The monounsaturated fat content in sunflower oil exceeds 20%. All these characteristics make sunflower oil a healthy option to keep your heart healthy, as compared to any other vegetable oil in the market.
Unsaturated fats are really good for you. They are easily metabolized by your liver, and can help maintain low cholesterol levels in your body.
If you want to make sure that your heart is healthy and that your body can maintain a healthy balance, you must consume an adequate quantity of unsaturated fats.
Some stores even supply ‘high-oleic’ types of organic sunflower oil. These types of sunflower oil have even greater quantities of monounsaturated fat. Some even comprise of 80% monounsaturated fat.
Because of this high monounsaturated fat content, sunflower oil is similar to olive oil and canola oil in terms of the benefits it has for the heart.
Sunflower oil’s high monounsaturated fat content makes it ideal for anyone who wishes to stay healthy, suffers from cholesterol, or simply wants a more active lifestyle.
Sunflower oil is clearly also one of those few vegetable oils that have various benefits for your heart.
Sunflower oil constitutes over 80% of monounsaturated fats, making it the perfect choice for your heart. The extremely high fatty acid content in sunflower oil helps to maintain the optimal balance in your body.
Furthermore, sunflower oil does not contain many saturated fats. This is a good thing because saturated fats lead to high cholesterol.
Sunflower oil has one of the highest concentrations of polyunsaturated fat (69 percent) among all cooking oils. It supplies some monounsaturated fat (20 percent) and is also low in saturated fat (11 percent), making it a heart-healthy option overall. Sunflower oil is a great all-purpose oil because it can withstand high cooking temperatures.
High-oleic sunflower oil is even better than regular sunflower oil because , for example this sort of oil has a fatty acid profile resembling an oil that is mainly monounsaturated fat such as olive oil and conventional sunflower oil.
Food manufacturers are increasingly switching from regular oils towards high-oleic oils as a replacement for Trans fats. Trans fats are hydrogenated oils, the purpose of which, according to nutrition experts is to extend the shelf life of processed foods.
As manufacturers stop using the relatively unhealthy trans fats, high-oleic oils are now being used because they consist mainly of monounsaturated fats which can be stored on the shelf for a much longer time as compared to polyunsaturated fats.
Four separate studies have compared the effects on heart health of a diet that is rich in conventional sunflower oil, which is a polyunsaturated fat, with a diet rich in canola oil, which has more monounsaturated fat. The researchers concluded that both sunflower oil and canola oil had similar effects – both reduced people’s levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, according to a 2013 review of those studies, published in the journal Nutrition Reviews.
Based on all of this information and specially based on the study published in the journal Nutrition Reviews, it is clear that both canola oil as well as sunflower oil are equally beneficial when it comes to heart health.
Both canola oil and sunflower oil have a low saturated fat content are high in unsaturated fats, either polyunsaturated, or monounsaturated.
Both oils help ensure regular functioning of the heart. Consuming either of these oils while cooking from an early age can help avoid heart problems such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attack, or stroke, in the future.
Whenever you can’t decide which oil is right for your household, keep in mind these benefits of canola and sunflower oil for your heart and overall health.