Paul, I did some more research on rapeseed oil and canola. I’m learning a lot on this subject because of your comments. Here is what I dug up:
Both canola and rapeseed belong to the cabbage or mustard family. The plants’ flowers both have that characteristic bright yellow color, and you get oil from both of the seeds by crushing the plants.
That said, they have a couple key genetic differences. Canola was created through plant-breeding in order to get rid of two undesirable components of rapeseed. Rapeseed oil and canola oil also get mixed up because they can be labeled incorrectly outside of Canada and the United States.
In the 1970s canola was created through traditional plant cross-breeding by removing two things found in the rapeseed plant: glucosinolates and erucic acid. Erucic acid was removed because it was believed to be inedible or toxic in high doses. The newly developed plant was renamed “canola,” a combination of “Canadian” and “oil” (or ola) to make this difference apparent.
By definition, if a seed is labeled “canola” it has to have less than 30 micromoles of glucosinolates and less than 2% of erucic acid.
More on this self-education journey. Wait until I tell my Norwegian-Canadian wife whose family stock settled in the plains of Saskatchewan and Manitoba to grow wheat in the 1800s:
Canada is the largest producer of rapeseed oil, with Germany coming in a close second. In fact, the name “canola” comes from a pairing of the words “Canada” and “oil” (1Trusted Source).
Originally, culinary rapeseed oil was developed via traditional crossbreeding. However, most varieties available today are genetically modified (GM) to be pest-resistant. Thus, these products are classified as genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
It’s important to distinguish between the two main types of rapeseed oil: industrial and culinary. The culinary version is also known as canola (1Trusted Source).
Industrial rapeseed oil is used in the automotive and chemical industries, while the culinary version is used for cooking. The two varieties are notably different due to their genetic makeup and content of erucic acid, which is harmful to your health in high amounts (1Trusted Source).
In fact, to be called canola oil, it must contain an erucic acid level of 2% or less and meet internationally regulated standards. Otherwise, it will be labeled as “rapeseed oil.” However, most varieties in grocery stores are canola oil (1Trusted Source).
Ever since the canola plant was created, plant breeders have developed many varieties that improved seed quality and led to a boom in canola oil manufacturing.
Most canola crops are genetically modified (GMO) to improve oil quality and increase plant tolerance to herbicides (1).
In fact, over 90% of the canola crops grown in the United States are GMO (2Trusted Source).
Canola crops are used to create canola oil and canola meal, which is commonly used as animal feed.
Canola oil can also be used as a fuel alternative to diesel and a component of items made with plasticizers, such as tires.
This concerns me as I buy butter made with sea salt and canola oil:
In addition, canola oil made into margarine and shortening goes through hydrogenation, a further process in which molecules of hydrogen are pumped into the oil to change its chemical structure.
This process makes the oil solid at room temperature and extends shelf life but also creates artificial trans fats, which differ from the natural trans fats found in foods like dairy and meat products (4Trusted Source).
Artificial trans fats are harmful to health and have been widely linked to heart disease, prompting many countries to ban their use in food products (5Trusted Source).