Canola Oil

Thinking of cooking oils, canola gets its name from which phrase?

And the answer: Canada oil.  

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Canola is a genetic variation of rapeseed, developed by Canadian plant breeders in the second half of the 20th century. It's now used worldwide as a cooking oil, mainly for its nutritional qualities, including low levels of saturated fat. Many canola crops are considered GMO, or genetically modified organisms.

Canola actually stands for "Canada-oil-low-acid." It's made into oil by crushing rapeseeds, tiny clusters of pods on (the unfortunately named) rape plants that are native to Canada. However, canola oil couldn't always be consumed in our foods. Before the 1960s, rapeseed oil was used mainly as machine lubricant. It was so high in erucic acid that it wasn't healthy to eat, and in fact gave some lab rats heart damage.

Canadian scientists got to work crossbreeding different kinds of rapeseed until they grew one with very low levels of erucic acid. Now, canola oil is a cooking oil with one of the lowest levels of saturated fat. It's used widely in restaurant kitchens across the world, and common in processed foods. It's also a newfound staple export of Canada: it contributes 26.7 billion dollars to the Canadian economy every year. The country is the largest exporter of canola oil in the world.

Fun fact!

Canola plants are great for bees! The canola flower produces high amounts of nectar with a good sugar profile for the bees' honey production. Additionally, the flower produces large amounts of pollen high in nutritional value. Yum!

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