Canola Oil vs Vegetable Oil

Vegetable oils are actually seed based!

Canola oil gets its name from the acronym Canada Ola and is derived from rapeseed plants.

Vegetable oil and canola oil are two of the most popular consumer oils. Each oil contains approximately 120 calories and 14 grams of fat per gram.

While neither is a suitable source of protein, fiber, or carbohydrates, both contain trace amounts of minerals and vitamins like K and E. Both oils are derived from plant-based materials and come in liquid form at room temperature

Today we will compare two of the most popular types of oils on the market: canola oil and vegetable oil. We will take an in-depth look at the nutritional differences and flavor factors you should be considering when deciding what cooking oil is right for you.

Canola Oil vs Vegetable Oil Origins

Vegetable oils are comprised of a diversity of seed based plant ingredients whereas canola oil is derived exclusively from the rapeseed plant.

Canola oil is derived from the rapeseed plant.

Canola oil is derived from the rapeseed plant, a bright yellow plant similar to the mustard seed. The seeds go through an elaborate and complicated industrial process before they can be extracted for their oil. Canola oil is comprised of a variety of minerals and fats but does not contain any other plant oils.

Vegetable oil is comprised of a variety of constituent plant based oils

Vegetable oil, on the other hand, is a catch-all product which incorporates oils derived from a variety of different sources like soybeans, corn, peanut, and safflower plants. There are no vegetables to be found in vegetable oil!

Vegetable oil is a cheap choice at the supermarket, but given that it is comprised of a combination of different oils it is harder to know precisely what you are going to get in each bottle. The quantities of safflower, corn, and soybean oil will vary from brand to brand.

This may be of concern for those consumers who want to know exactly what they are ingesting, and the specifics of the processing and manufacturing involved in their foods. Checking the nutritional labels of vegetable oils is essential due to the variability of their components.

Canola Oil vs Vegetable Oil Nutrition

We often hear that oils can be beneficial to our health in small quantities, despite their high-fat content. Is there any truth to that? Definitely.

Canola oil has higher quantities of good fats than vegetable oils do.

When choosing an oil fat content is definitely an unavoidable consideration. Most oils contain high levels of fat but don’t fear! Healthy fats, in moderate quantities, are healthy for you and your heart! So how do vegetable oil and canola oil stack up?

Both types of oils contain healthy heart promoting monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are considered ‘good fats’ (as opposed to harmful fats like trans and saturated fatty acids which contribute to clogged arteries). Monounsaturated fats reduce inflammation in the body and are linked to lower rates of heart disease.

Canola oil contains more omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.

Canola oil, however, contains more Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids than vegetable oil does. These types of fats are important contributors to heart health, mood stabilization and skin and hair health.

Canola oil has an Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio of 2:1 which is more desirable than the lower ratio of the found in vegetable oils. Canola oil is also rich in alpha-linolenic acid, one of the essential fatty acids.

The Omega fatty acids found in vegetable oils are present in lower quantities, and are of lower quality, than those found in canola oils. Canola oil is comprised of 64.3% monounsaturated fats, 27.9% polyunsaturated fat and 7.1% saturated fats. This is one of the lowest levels of saturated fats in any oil product on the market.

Vegetable oil has more saturated fat than canola oil.

Comparatively, vegetable oils also have higher quantities of saturated fat per tablespoon than canola oils do. Vegetable oil is made from extracting the triglycerides from plants like corn and sunflower.

Saturated fat is considered one of the ‘bad’ fats because consuming it in excess has detrimental effects on the heart and arteries. In addition to saturated fats, soybean-based vegetable oils have traces of cholesterol and are more refined than safflower, peanut or corn-based vegetable oils.

Soybean-based vegetable oils can, therefore, increase blood cholesterol. If you are trying to avoid hydrogenated, modified foods than you should certainly be reading the labels of your vegetable oil to ensure that it does not contain too much soybean oil. Keep in mind that many consumer oils from companies like Crisco are mostly soybean based.

Keep in mind that some dieticians point to the fact that even healthy fats and Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s can become unstable when exposed to heat and can release harmful toxins and carcinogens during the cooking and frying process. This is not to discourage the wholesale use of oils but is an important fact to keep in mind when deciding how much oil to consume in your diet.

Smoke Points of Canola Oil vs Vegetable Oil

One of the key features of oil is its smoke point. The smoke point is the temperature at which an oil begins to smoke, become unstable, and release harmful toxins.

Both oils have different smoke points, and therefore different cooking uses.

Vegetable oil is better suited to medium heat cooking or prolonged frying.

Canola oil is better suited to medium-high temperature cooking like stir-fries and baking.

Canola oil’s smoke point is between 375-450 degrees whereas soybean-based vegetable oils have a smoke point of 320 degrees.

Canola oil has a medium-high smoke point.

Canola oil has a medium to high smoke point. It is best used for baking, curries, stir-fries and for use in the oven. Canola oil has a smooth texture and mild taste allowing the bold flavors of curries and heavily spiced dishes to stand out.

Vegetable oil has a medium smoke point.

Vegetable oil has a medium smoke point, which means that it cannot tolerate as much exposure to high temperatures. It is best used for sautéing and for baking that requires lower heat.

Vegetable oil is better for prolonged, medium temperature frying, for instance when making french fries or onion rings. Keep in mind that the actual smoke point will depend on the constituents of the vegetable oil, but it is generally high enough to fry food (and especially deep frying).

Peanut and soybean oil have especially high smoke points, but corn and safflower oil based vegetable oil blends are best for frying

Cooking with Canola Oil vs Vegetable Oil

Both oils can be used interchangeably but each best suited to different dishes.

While canola oil and vegetable oil are often used interchangeably, there are some salient variations in regards to their best use.

In addition to their use in cooking, canola oil can be an ingredient in mayonnaise and salad dressing while vegetable oil is often a key component of shortenings like margarine.

Canola Oil: Perfect for Light Frying and Grilling

Canola Oil vs Vegetable Oil - Stir fry
Canola oil has a neutral taste which makes it perfect for use in dishes with lots of robust spices and flavors like stir-fries, pasta, and curries. It does not steal the show but instead rounds the comprising elements of the recipe together.

Canola oil can be great for lightly frying or cooking more delicate meats like seafood and chicken. Canola oil is a sound choice for grilling vegetables and tofu, as well.

Canola oil is better suited to salad dressings, lighter sauces, and dips than vegetable oil because its light consistency enables the flavors to stand out without weighing the blend down.

Vegetable Oil: Perfect for Heartier Dishes and Deep Frying

Canola Oil vs Vegetable Oil - Deep fry
Vegetable oil can enhance food flavors because of its thicker consistency and fat based but neutral taste. Again, this is strongly influenced by the types of plant oils used in the vegetable oil (for instance peanut or corn) but is a general truism about the oil.

Because it adds a hint of thicker flavor it is perfect for fried potato fritters or tempura dishes. Vegetable oil is also ideal for denser dishes like a hearty lasagna, red meats or starchy vegetables like baked potatoes or spaghetti squash.

Both Oils work for Baking Purposes

Both oils work well with baked goods like moist cakes and pastries.

Keep in mind when choosing a vegetable oil that some plant blends do not perform as effectively when baking; for instance, a darker corn-based vegetable oil will not be as enjoyable in a baked good. Vegetable oils like soybean-based or safflower-based ones are well suited to baking because of their less overt taste and their thicker consistency.

Because canola oil has a relatively undistinctive flavor, it is also an excellent choice for baking and use in cookies, cakes, and pies.

Canola Oil vs Vegetable Oil – Which is healthier?

Canola Oil was long considered a healthy alternative to vegetable oil. This assertion is currently under fire

Canola oil was considered a heart-healthy alternative to conventional vegetable oil for a long time. Currently, many dieticians are attacking this assertion. Most of this backlash is based on the production techniques used to create commercial canola oil.

Canola oil has been criticized mainly because of the industrial processing it takes to harvest the oil from the rapeseed plant and the ubiquity of fertilizers in rapeseed fields. The extraction process involves complicated steps of degumming and bleaching the rapeseeds.

Canola oil, by its nature, requires an intense processing sequence that involves machines using high heat to extract the oil and chemicals to separate the oil from the seed. Canola oil also has low levels of erucic acid, which has a negative impact on heart and kidney function and some dieticians advocate against consuming even small amounts of erucic acid.


Vegetable oils and canola oils are both appropriate choices for a wide range of cooking needs. They are both excellent oil candidates for baking, grilling, frying and sautéing. Because they both contain heart-healthy fats, you can certainly incorporate them into a healthy lifestyle and diet.

But due to the level of saturated fats in vegetable oil and the small levels of erucic acid in canola oil, we do advocate against using the oils too liberally. Incorporate other types of oils like coconut oil, olive oil, and avocado oils to ensure you are consuming a balanced variety of nutrients.


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