Canola Oil as a Substitute for Butter

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Whether you are on a low-fat diet or are simply paying more attention to the type of fat that you are taking in, you may consider substituting monounsaturated fat for saturated fat in some of your favorite recipes. Canola oil is a monounsaturated fat, while butter is saturated; the two often can be used interchangeably in cooking. Substituting oil for butter is also an easy way to make a recipe vegan.

What is Canola Oil?

The canola plant was derived from rapeseed in the 1970s, and belongs to the Brassica family of flowering plants. Relatives include cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. Canola oil is processed from the small seeds produced by these plants, and is produced mainly in Australia, Western Canada, and the United States. Each seed is composed of approximately 40 percent oil, which is extracted through crushing and processing. The resulting oil is sold for cooking purposes, while the remainder of the seed is used to feed livestock.

Health Benefits of Canola Oil

High in vitamin E as well as "good" fats such as monounsaturated, omega-3, and omega-6 fats, canola oil is considered to be a healthy alternative to other types of cooking agents that are high in saturated fat. These good fats help protect against heart attacks and stroke, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Canola oil is also cholesterol-free, ensuring that it won't add to your cholesterol levels when used as part of a healthy diet.

Nutritional Information for Butter

Although both butter and canola oil can be used for the same purpose in many cases, they contain completely different types of fat. Being an animal fat, butter contains cholesterol as well as saturated fat. There are 33 mg in 1 tbsp. of butter, which makes up a significant percentage of the daily recommended value of 200 mg. It also contains 7 g of saturated fat, which is about half of the daily recommended value. The problem with saturated fats is that they raise the "bad" type of cholesterol, LDL, which can lead to clogged arteries and heart disease.

Tips for Substituting Canola Oil for Butter

When you choose to substitute canola oil in recipes that call for butter, a potential problem is that canola oil is in a liquid form and butter is often used in its solid form. A common conversion for such substitutions holds that 1 cup of solid fat is equivalent to 2 cups of liquid. For cooking on the stove, you can use 14 tbsp. of canola oil for every cup of butter, and reduce this number to 10 tbsp. in baking. Because canola oil can lead to a greasier consistency when baking, you may also need to experiment with other wet ingredients. Adding an extra egg will help bind the baked good together in the absence of butter, for example.