Do you use it?
Did you know it has been described to us as a ” good oil to use” and is in almost everything.
Did you know it is infammatory and can cause a lot of inflammed bowel isses? If you dont feel as good as you think you should……….
What Is Rapeseed Oil & Should You Be Cooking With It?
Sarah Garone, NDTR
By Sarah Garone, NDTR
Sarah Garone is a licensed nutritionist and freelance health and wellness writer in Mesa, AZ whose work has appeared in numerous publications.
Lauren Torrisi-Gorra, M.S., RD
Expert review by
Lauren Torrisi-Gorra, M.S., RD
Lauren Torrisi-Gorra, MS, RD is a registered dietitian, chef, and writer with a love of science and passion for helping people create life-long healthy habits. She has a bachelor’s degree in Communication and Media Studies from Fordham University, a Grand Diplôme in Culinary Arts from the French Culinary Institute, and master’s degree in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics from New York University.
Last updated on March 31, 2023
What exactly is rapeseed oil?
Turns out, we do use rapeseed oil in the U.S.—it just goes by the name canola oil. Wait, what? Read on for the details on why rapeseed oil can go by different names, its nutritional pros and cons, and whether it’s a healthy choice for cooking oil.
Despite its limited name recognition in North America, rapeseed oil is one of the oldest known vegetable oils. It’s extracted from the seeds of a plant called rape, which is botanically related to cruciferous veggies like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. The plant grows primarily in Canada and western Europe and is identifiable by its bright yellow flowers.
Rapeseed oil comes in two distinct forms. Industrial rapeseed oil, which isn’t edible, is used for purposes like lubricating engines and making lipstick. It contains high amounts of erucic acid,a substance known to be toxic to humans.
Some professional chefs and home cooks are fans of culinary rapeseed oil for its neutral flavor and high smoke point of up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. But for some, the oil’s GMO status is problematic enough to keep it out of the kitchen (more on that below).
Extracted from the rape plant (a member of the cruciferous family), rapeseed oil is available in both industrial and culinary forms. In the US and Canada, the culinary form is known as canola oil. This oil is commonly used in restaurants, home kitchens, and to make processed foods.
Yes, “canola” is simply another term for culinary rapeseed oil. The primary difference between American canola oil and, say, French or German rapeseed oil is probably its growing location, not its nutrition or degree of processing.
The nutritional value of rapeseed oil.
That said, there’s some concern about the polyunsaturated fat ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s in rapeseed oil. “While it does include some omega-3, it’s much higher in omega-6 fatty acids. Having too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3 in the diet has been linked to inflammation in the body.
If you’re looking to purchase culinary rapeseed oil, you’ll find several distinct forms. Some terms to understand include:
Refined: Most rapeseed and canola oils are highly refined. Translation: they’ve undergone multiple chemical processes like bleaching and deodorizing. This makes them more palatable and increases their smoke point, but decreases their nutrient content.
Unrefined: Unrefined rapeseed or canola oils can be harder to track down, but seek them out if possible. This variety is significantly less processed than refined.
Cold-pressed: Cold-pressed rapeseed oil is extracted from the plant without using heat. This helps it retain nutrients that would otherwise be lost.
Vegetable oil-rapeseed oil blends: Many vegetable oils combine rapeseed or canola with sunflower, soybean, olive, or other oils.
Next up are rapeseed oil’s possible benefits for hair and skin. “The unsaturated fatty acids in rapeseed may help dry hair due to the moisturizing properties of the oil to scalp and hair and skin,” says naturopath and dietitian Jaime Schehr, N.D., R.D.
The softening potential of rapeseed oil likely has to do with the oil’s vitamin E content. Research shows that vitamin E’s antioxidant properties may help reduce inflammation in the skin6
as well as promote hair growth7when used as a scalp treatment or hair mask.
It has advantages for cooking.
Besides these health perks, rapeseed oil has plenty of advantages for cooking. Its high smoke point, versatility, neutral flavor, and affordability make it a go-to for many cooks.
The downsides of rapeseed oil
If you’ve done some culinary homework of your own, you may have heard of some of rapeseed oil’s downsides—and, unfortunately, there are several.
It’s usually genetically modified.
Over 90% of canola crops in the U.S. are genetically modified. Genetic modification isn’t always bad news for health9—but when it changes the way plants respond to pesticides, it can quickly become problematic. (It’s also not great for the environment when plants are grown in a monoculture, which most rapeseed plants are10
“Rapeseed is a highly processed oil, with many of the plants genetically modified and more resistant to herbicides. When crops are resistant to herbicides, even more of those herbicides are needed, potentially causing more harm to the environment,” explains Schehr. “This also means we are ingesting those strong herbicides, and therefore this may not be the best choice for oil.”
It may cause inflammation.
Omega-3s and omega-6s are generally considered friendly fats, but when their ratio gets out of whack, your health might pay the price.
“With an omega 3 to 6 ratio of 1:2, this oil does have a significant amount of omega-6, which most people get too much of in their diet and can lead to inflammation,” says Schehr. Some studies have linked an excess of omega-6 to omega-3 with an increased risk of obesity11
, for example. Plus, rapeseed oil is often used in highly processed foods, which research shows may be its own driver of inflammation12
Rapeseed’s potential for oxidation
Oxidation occurs when oils are exposed to light, heat, and oxygen, causing them to produce harmful or even toxic byproducts. This can also happen when certain oils are cooked at very high temperatures13
. Rapeseed oil has a reputation for a quick rate of oxidation—research found that it oxidized faster than peanut or corn oils14
As the saying goes, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. “During prolonged or deep-frying, harmful compounds may form as [rapeseed] oil oxidizes. This happens sooner in oils with high PUFA content,” says Cording. Then again, this doesn’t mean that frying in rapeseed oil will make poison for dinner. “The refined rapeseed oils are actually thought to be less susceptible to this because the compounds that are more susceptible to oxidation (like free fatty acids) are removed during processing.”
Cording’s big-picture takeaway on the dangers (or lack thereof) of oxidized oil: “It really depends on how frequently someone is consuming foods cooked with rapeseed oil. No matter what oil you use, avoid reusing cooking oil and store your oil in a cool, dark, and dry place.”
So, is rapeseed oil bad for you?
Rapeseed oil may not be a dietary angel—but is it bad enough to oust it from your pantry entirely? “If someone’s occasionally eating something that happens to have rapeseed oil in it, I wouldn’t panic,” says Cording. Still, she recommends replacing rapeseed or canola oil with other, healthier options when you can.
“We have so much research on the benefits of olive oil, I would encourage making the swap to take advantage of those health benefits. For a more neutral flavor, avocado oil is also a great alternative that will work well in cooking,” Cording adds.
Note from Linda Love Anousta
I for one am checking everything I eat and avoiding Rapeseed at all times ( even though it is in Oatley Oat milk which i love in my tea and coffee but nope…. this Rapeseed oil is TOO inflammatory on the guts to risk consumming.
Bye Bye Rapeseed ( Canola oil)