Dear Foodie: Olive Oil vs Canola Oil

Dear Foodie,

I have been hearing a lot lately about the merits of olive oil versus canola oil in particular. It appears from my quick review that canola is cheaper though the health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet make me choose from the myriad of olive oil choices. What am I to do?

olive_oil
Dear Olive,

Let’s leave the merits of diet theories alone and as the subject of another Dear Foodie column. Likewise, we’ll leave alone discussion of the current corporate advertising mentality that makes you think that if they slap an Italian sounding name on the label, you will be repaid with immortality that just might include having your lover regularly slap you on the rump with that “come hither” look. But, let’s get real.

Take a gander at www.ehow.com which has some pretty good educational materials on the choice between olive and canola oils. In a bit of history, our grandmothers used lard to fry up a batch of just about anything and most of us grew up with salad dressings that were heavy and mayo based. Butter was widely spread on anything that was displayed on a plate (as well as many other uses that I fear to even imagine that don’t fit on a plate.) Then we got enlightened. Heart and vascular health took center stage and cancer prevention has been linked increasingly to diet. With timing being everything, the olive oil industry stepped into the breech just as we turned our attention to healthy eating.

The bottom line is as you can imagine about as clear as mud. But, this much appears to be the case according to the wise ones at ehow.com and other places. Canola oil is high in Omega 3 (note how much “Omega 3” makes you think you are drinking the elixir of a Greek God) and combats heart disease. According to some scientists, canola is actually lower in the bad saturated fat. Canola has gotten an unfair rap due to its relationship to grapeseed and the ability to turn it into pesticides. Scientists say this is not the case. It does appear from Dear Foodie’s research that canola oil appears to go through a bit more processing than does olive oil.

Olive oil of course appears as innocent as an olive falling off a tree into your mouth. You savor and suck it dry while lounging overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. You suddenly enjoy better health than if you spent a year at the Canyon Ranch Spa in Tucson. It also goes after heart disease and colon cancer.

Canola is likely cheaper than Olive oil and you don’t have to contemplate the next question: regular, virgin or extra virgin olive oil and all the images that conjures up! But, olive oil tastes better and it appears a little less processed. But, go ahead make your choice. Maybe that choice is to cook with canola but spread olive oil on salads for better taste.