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In today's health-conscious world, frying is the least recommended mode of cooking. With health experts warning us time and again to stay away from fried foods, people have slowly begun to turn to other healthier cooking options such as baking.
But, variety is the spice of life, and we cannot stick to baked foods all the time. Yes, fried foods may indeed harm us when taken on a regular basis in restaurants or street stalls, due to the fear of oil re-use. However, indulging once in a way is fine, as long as you are preparing the dish in your own kitchen.
Vegetable Oil v/s Canola Oil
Having said that, the next point is to choose the ideal oil for frying. Both vegetable oil and canola oil are used in baking and all types of cooking. They look and feel alike, and it is difficult to differentiate between the two. But the actual difference between vegetable oil and canola oil is that, vegetable oil is extracted from one or more vegetable plants like soybean oil, palm oil, cottonseed or sunflower seed oil.
Canola oil, on the other hand, is extracted from seeds of the canola plant (rapeseed), a yellow plant belonging to the mustard/cabbage family. In other words, canola oil is also a type of vegetable oil, made from a plant.
Health Value Of Vegetable Oil v/s Canola Oil
Canola oil is lower in saturated fat. It contains omega nutrients, and is good for your heart. However, this does not imply that you can consume a large amount of canola oil to keep your heart healthy.
The thumb rule is to use any cooking oil only in moderation. Not to be left behind, some studies have also shown that vegetable oil can boost your metabolism and reduce the risk of breast cancer. But, if you need a definite answer to which of the two is a healthier choice, the answer would be canola oil.
This is because canola oil has more monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats, and less of saturated fats, apart from omega nutrients, unlike vegetable oil. Canola oil also has several other health benefits as a cholesterol regulator, which is a rich source of vitamins K and E, that helps reduce belly fat and controls blood sugar.
Blending Of Oils When Cooking/Frying
While the debate on the healthiest cooking oil goes on and on with umpteen researches still being carried out, the best way to go ahead is to use a combination of cooking oils to derive the maximum benefits from fatty acids in these oils. According to experts, it is best to use a combination of two or three types of oil, or rotate the types of oil that we use for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Canola oil is an excellent stable oil with a high smoke point of 242ºC. Due to a high smoke point, the oil will not smoke or break down at high heat, which makes it ideal for deep-frying, searing and sautéing.
Canola oil is ideal for Indian cuisine, which involves a lot of deep frying, and use of large amount of spices and masala mix. Canola oil is odourless and neutral, and very light in texture, and hence, does not feel greasy, and works like magic in the dishes, without interfering into their taste.
Vegetable oil is also good enough when you are frying foods, particularly, as deep frying oil with natural flavour. As frying occurs at high temperatures, it is best to use oils that have a high smoke point that doesn't easily break down, and both canola and vegetable oils fit the bill.
Both vegetable oil and canola oil are plant-derived oils with a high smoke point, and there is no harm in mixing the two for frying. Both vegetable and canola oils are standard oils used in most professional kitchens.
This is because they add no additional flavour, keeping the taste of food intact, and hence are considered as default oils. They are particularly considered best for frying and deep frying, and are used with most recipes that involve stir-frying.
This does not mean that both vegetable oil and canola oil should be always mixed and used when cooking. But, there is no potential harm in occasionally mixing the two for a stir-fry.