Inquiring Minds: Is there a difference between canola and rapeseed oil?

Each week the staff at the Roseville Library answers more than 2,500 questions on every subject under the sun. Here’s one of the most interesting ones they’ve gotten lately.

Q. What is the difference between canola oil and rapeseed oil?

A. In the beginning, there was only rapeseed oil, a variety of the mustard family whose very name is a negative marketing tool.  Not only does rapeseed sound repulsive, but the Federal Drug Administration declared the stuff unfit for human consumption back in 1955, because the plant has high levels of toxic acid as well as a bitter taste.

Then, in the 1970s, plant scientists got to work and bred a new strain of rapeseed with greatly reduced levels of toxicity and a pleasant, neutral taste as well.  The new improved oil source was dubbed “Canola” for “Canadian oil, low acid,” and it is a hit in kitchens everywhere, because of its very high unsaturated fat levels. (Internet Resources.)


Do you have a question for the staff at the Roseville Library? You can call them at 651-724-6001 or ask your question in person at the Information Desk, Roseville Library, 2180 Hamline Ave. Library hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

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