The Battle Of The Oils: Can Olive Beat Canola?

Olive vs Canola. May The Best Oil Win

We used to go to a family owned Greek restaurant that had everything on the menu you can think of.  From meat loaf to Gyros and potato soup to rice pudding.  If you could imagine it they were serving it.

But I always thought everything tasted the same.  The restaurant came to mind recently – even though it’s been years since I’ve eaten there – because I’ve started to think the same thing about my own cooking.  It all kind of tastes the same.

I can’t remember when the olive oil craze began but I became a fan a few years ago.  I began using olive oil daily because of the articles that said it would help keep my HDL (good) cholesterol at a decent level.  It didn’t take long before I was adding olive oil to nearly everything I cooked because I came to enjoy the flavor.  In my kitchen there is usually at least one clove of garlic simmering in the olive oil.

Now I’m looking for an olive oil substitute.  Not a replacement because I still plan to use the olive oil in certain dishes.  But, I want to find an oil that will allow different foods to have their own distinct flavors rather than what I have now – the taste of olive oil and garlic with some other things thrown in.

Which Oil Is The Healthiest?

We’ve been led to believe that olive oil is the healthiest because of its ability to lower LDL cholesterol, but that may not be totally true. Dr. Dean Ornish says even the idea that olive oil lowers HDL cholesterol is a misconception.  Olive oil lowers cholesterol only when it becomes a replacement for foods that are higher in saturated fats like butter, for example.  He says that olive oil is a healthier option when compared to some fats, but not as good for us as canola or fish oil.

If we compare olive and canola oils for their nutritional values there’s not much difference except in the flavor.

The Low-Down On Oil

Olive oil – 1 teaspoon has 40 calories and is 100% fat with a high ratio of mono-unsaturated fatty acids to saturated fatty acids which makes it healthy.  It also contains Omega-6 fatty acids (linoleic) and Omega-3 fatty acids (linolenic) at a ratio of 8:1 making it one of the healthiest cooking oils.  It also has a high level of plant sterols and Vitamins E and K which add to its nutritional value.

Canola oil – 1 teaspoon has 40 calories and is 100% fat.  It contains Omega-6 and Omeg-3 fatty acids at a ratio of 2:1 making it and even healthier cooking oil than olive oil.  It has the highest level of plant sterols and a valuable amount of Vitamin E.

Both oils are excellent for cooking and for use in salad dressings and sautéing vegetables. Canola oil can be used for baking and olive is excellent for dipping. Have you ever noticed how olive oil is always sold in decorative bottles that you feel like you should save while canola is in plastic?  That’s not fair, is it?

Both oils have their own distinct flavors, which will embellish the taste of the foods they are in so there’s room in my kitchen for both olive and canola.  Make new friends but keep the old. What’s  your favorite healthy oil?