Why canola is important

Canola produces a healthy oil and a highly nutritious animal feed, better than any other oilseed crop.

Recent health research shows that diets with most calories coming from vegetable oils and whole grain products are the more effective at maintaining good health than diets where calories come mainly from refined starches ( Scientific American, January 2003 ).  Among vegetable oils, low saturated fats and high polyunsaturated fats are considered the healthiest.   On both counts, canola oil has outstanding characteristics.   Canola oil has the lowest level of saturated fats of all major oil crops (Table 1).  Canola also has an excellent fatty acid profile, with high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids whose intake is associated with lower risk of heart disease and lower blood cholesterol levels.

After the oil is extracted from canola, the remaining cake is high in protein (37 percent) and can be used as a livestock feed supplement.   In fact, nearly one half of the canola meal produced in Canada is fed to animals in the U.S., mostly in the northern states.  

Canola has other uses, too.

Canola is being tested as an alternative oil for petroleum products like motor fuels (called biofuels ) and motor oils.  In fact, canola oil research supported by the Michigan Innovative Farmer’s Association is going on in Michigan ’s thumb by the Michigan Biomass Energy Program .  

(Graph courtesy of the Canola Council of Canada)