Canola oil first appeared on the market in the 1970s and has become popular among consumers due to its many health benefits. Canola was developed by plant breeders in Canada who modified the rapeseed plant to produce a seed that had a low erucic acid count. The "Can" of Canada and "ola" (oil low acid) were combined to form the word "canola."
Rapeseed, used long before canola oil came into existence, has a bitter taste which makes it undesirable as a cooking additive. That fact, combined with the unsafe erucic acid counts in rapeseed, helped to speed along the production of canola oil. It was decided that any oil that contained more than two percent erucic acid or was made from seeds that contained more than 30 micromoles of glucosinolates could not be considered canola, according to the Canola Council of Canada.
Canada remains the largest exporter of canola seeds and oil, growing 20 percent of the world's supply. Canola is also grown in he United States, Australia, China and several European Union countries. Canola seeds are harvested with the intent that the oil will yield the highest economic percentages, as the seeds have an oil content of 43 percent.
Due to its low amount of fatty (saturated) acid compared to mono saturated acid and its healthy omega-3 fatty acid, canola oil is one of the healthiest oils currently in production. Canola oil also provides a good dose of both vitamins E and K and is cholesterol free.
Canola oil can be used for baking or frying. It works well in salad dressings and as a marinade. Canola oil is also a healthy alternative to butter.
Canola production goals include creating specialized versions of the oil. Certain oils will have a higher content of omega-3. Other formulas will include a higher percentage of healthy mono saturated fats. The Canola Council of Canada says the industry hopes to increase harvesting by 65 percent by 2015 due to increased demand generated by restaurants who have switched to canola oil for frying and the emerging demand for biodiesel, which can be produced from the oil.
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