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Ask Tufts Experts January 2017 Issue

Q. How healthy is canola oil in comparison to other oils and what are the ingredients?

A. Rosylan Rojas, a dietetic intern at Tufts' Frances Stern Nutrition Center, answers: "Canola oil, which is extracted from the crushed seeds of the canola plant (developed using traditional plant breeding), is a relatively inexpensive vegetable oil whose nutritional qualities are often overlooked.

"All vegetable oils are made entirely of fat, but each type has a different blend of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated fat. Canola oil is predominantly comprised of monounsaturated fat with a low amount of saturated fat - even lower than most other cooking oils." Monounsaturated fat, when used to replace saturated fat in your dietary pattern, is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

"Perhaps most noteworthy, compared to other common oils such as olive and peanut, canola oil has one of the highest levels of alpha-linolenic acid, a heart-protective omega-3 polyunsaturated fat.

"From a caloric standpoint, all vegetable oils are relatively equal, providing about 120 calories per tablespoon." Both canola oil and soybean oil are good, versatile choices and have a mild flavor. Use them in salad dressings and marinades, as well as for cooking and baking.

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