Let’s start with canola oil. Canola oil is a neutral-tasting oil that’s made by crushing the seeds of the canola plant. That sounds simple enough, but there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to get there.
The canola plant actually started out as the rapeseed plant, but as-is, rapeseed contains two toxic compounds–erucic acid and glucosinolates–and can’t be safely consumed. According to registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator Shahzadi Devje, R.D., CDE, MSc, Canadian scientists figured out how to remove these compounds through targeted plant breeding and came up with the canola (Can for Canada and ola for oil) plant.
To make canola oil, oil is extracted from the canola plant through a long manufacturing process that involves chemicals like hexane, a toxic compound, Devje says.
Canola oil has two major benefits when it comes to cooking: It has a neutral flavor so it doesn’t alter the taste of what you’re cooking and it has a high smoke point, meaning it can withstand high cooking temperatures without breaking down and burning. “Canola oil also contains vitamin E, vitamin K, and plant sterols to support heart health,” Devje previously told mbg. But the benefits pretty much end there.