As one of the most popular, affordable, and versatile vegetable oils, canola oil has become a staple in many kitchens over the years. The oil is created from canola plants, which yield bright yellow flowers when in bloom. Yes, the same oil you use to sauté and stir fry your dinner may also be beneficial to your hair.
According to The Huffington Post, the canola plant itself does not appear naturally. It’s a product of careful breeding for the specific purpose of harvesting the plant’s seeds and pressing them into oil. Once the flowers mature and die after being pollinated, seedpods begin to form. Back in the 1960s, Canadian scientists modified the rapeseed plant by reducing the erucic acid and glucosinolates, two chemicals that were deemed toxic by the FDA.
The growers decided to name the oil and plant “canola” as an acronym for “Canadian oil, low acid.” The new plant looked physically identical to the rapeseed plant but had different nutritional properties, and canola oil is still occasionally called rapeseed oil. In order for a product label to use the name canola, the product must maintain a certain level of glucosinolates and erucic acid.
What is the Nutritional Makeup?
Does it contain beneficial ingredients? Canola oil is comprised of:
- monounsaturated oleic acid (omega-9 fatty acid)
- polyunsaturated linoleic acid (omega-6 essential fatty acid)
- alpha-Linolenic acid (omega-3 essential fatty acid)
- saturated fatty acids
- palmitic acids
- stearic acids
Among these ingredients are both groups of essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6), and a large percentage of monounsaturated fat, which is associated with decreased inflammation in the body and prevents excessive water loss in hair strands. It also contains a significant amount of vitamin E, which can stimulate hair growth.
Essential fatty acids are healthy fats that our body requires in order to function and are obtained from outside sources since our bodies do not produce them. They are known to facilitate cell production and contain anti-inflammatory effects that, when applied topically, may soothe an irritated scalp. They also coat the hair shaft and lock in moisture on dry hair.
In spite of these benefits, there are polarizing views on whether or not canola oil is healthy; most of this skepticism stems from how the plant is bred, how the oil is processed, and the number of trans fats. According to Dr. Guy Cosby of Harvard’s Department of Nutrition, canola oil is really no different than other vegetable oils.
How Can I Use It for My Hair?
Use canola oil as a sealant or in a DIY hair treatment or mask. Take a look at this Mayo Hair Mask that uses canola oil, mayonnaise, and a favorite essential oil of choice for maximum hydration. (Wondering if mayo treatments actually work, though? Learn more here.)
While it’s not the most popular oil of choice in the natural hair community, based off of the ingredients, canola oil and rapeseed oil are as safe to use as any other oil. If you’re feeling adventurous, why not give it a try? If not, here’s ten of the most popular oils for curly hair.