By now, you know that unhealthy saturated fat can lead to higher cholesterol, clogged arteries and a whole host of serious heart problems. So the simplest and most basic way that canola oil contributes to good heart health is by offering people a heart-healthy alternative. By using canola oil as a substitute in recipes that call for cholesterol-raising fats, such as butter in a cake or the fat used to sauté fish or mushrooms, people can reduce their saturated fat intake. This, in turn, can help to keep cholesterol at a healthy level and reduce the risk of heart disease.
But canola oil can also be a proactively good ingredient for your heart, not simply a replacement for unhealthier ingredients. In 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued what is called a "qualified health claim," which states that the unsaturated fat in canola oil may help reduce heart disease by lowering both LDL (bad) cholesterol and total cholesterol. This claim recommends that people include 1.5 tablespoons of canola oil in their daily food intake [Source: FDA].
Furthermore, some studies have shown that the alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) found in canola oil also has health benefits for the heart. It may protect against abnormal heartbeats and help with inflammation and blood clots.
Although canola oil may only be a handful of decades of old, it has carved out a significant place in American cuisine. McDonald's, America's most well-known and widespread fast food chain, switched to a canola oil blend in recent years, citing its lack of trans fat and other health benefits as a major cause for the change. Food Network celebrity and registered dietician Ellie Krieger, who focuses on healthy cooking, uses canola oil in many of her recipes and promotes its healthful qualities. The magazine "Cooking Light" also recommends its readers use canola oil and other healthy vegetable oils.
With canola oil's heart-healthy fat composition and neutral taste, which make it a versatile ingredient, it's easy to see why canola oil now has a place on the kitchen shelves of many American restaurants and households.
To learn more about the benefits of canola oil and related heart-healthy topics, see the links on the following page.