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Rapeseed vs. Canola — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Maham Liaqat — Updated on May 1, 2024
Rapeseed is a plant and oil source while canola is a type of rapeseed with low erucic acid and glucosinolates, bred for safer consumption.
Rapeseed vs. Canola — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Rapeseed and Canola


Key Differences

Rapeseed is an older crop known for its high erucic acid and glucosinolate content, which can be harmful in large quantities. On the other hand, canola was developed from rapeseed through selective breeding to drastically reduce these compounds, making it a healthier option for edible oils and animal feed.
Both rapeseed and canola belong to the Brassica family and share a similar appearance. However, canola is distinct due to its specific genetic makeup, which ensures the oil’s low erucic acid content.
Rapeseed oil is traditionally used in industrial applications, such as lubricants, plastics, and biofuels, due to its erucic acid. Conversely, canola oil is primarily used in the culinary world, valued for its light flavor and high omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid content, beneficial for heart health.
The cultivation of rapeseed is widespread in Europe and Asia, reflecting its adaptability and historical use. Meanwhile, canola is predominantly grown in Canada, which is also the origin of its name ("Canadian oil, low acid").
In terms of nutritional profile, rapeseed oil generally has a higher erucic acid content, which has been linked to health risks. Canola oil, however, is celebrated for its low erucic acid level and is often recommended as part of a healthy diet.

Comparison Chart


Older crop, various uses
Bred for edible purposes

Erucic Acid

High content
Low content (less than 2%)


Industrial applications
Culinary uses, healthy diets

Health Impact

Potentially harmful
Generally considered safe

Main Cultivation Areas

Europe, Asia
Mainly Canada

Compare with Definitions


Cultivated mainly in Europe and Asia.
Rapeseed cultivation is prominent in the agricultural landscapes of Poland.


Known for its health benefits, including heart health.
Canola oil is recommended for its balance of omega fatty acids.


A bright-yellow flowering member of the mustard or cabbage family.
Rapeseed fields bloom vibrantly in early spring.


Predominantly grown in Canada.
The vast canola fields are a typical sight in Canadian prairies.


Used in the production of biodiesel.
Rapeseed-based biodiesel is a common biofuel in Europe.


A genetically modified type of rapeseed with low erucic acid.
Canola is a popular choice for cooking oil.


Associated with traditional uses not suitable for human consumption.
Traditional rapeseed oil is used in various non-edible products.


Has a light flavor, making it suitable for various culinary applications.
Canola oil is favored for its versatility in baking and frying.


Source of oil with high erucic acid content.
Rapeseed oil is often used in industrial lubricants.


Used both in human diets and as animal feed.
Canola meal is a common livestock feed due to its nutritional content.


Rapeseed (Brassica napus subsp. napus), also known as rape, or oilseed rape, is a bright-yellow flowering member of the family Brassicaceae (mustard or cabbage family), cultivated mainly for its oil-rich seed, which naturally contains appreciable amounts of erucic acid.


Any of several varieties of the rape plant having seeds containing oil that is very low in erucic acid and high in monounsaturated fatty acids.


The rape plant or its seed.


An edible oil made from such a plant.


The seed of the rape plant, Brassica napus, used widely for animal feed and vegetable oil.


Any of a number of cultivars of rapeseed (Brassica napus) and closely related field mustard (Brassica rapa), which have a lower erucic acid and glucosinolate content than traditional rapeseed.


The rape plant itself.


Seed of rape plants; source of an edible oil

Common Curiosities

What is rapeseed?

Rapeseed is a plant known for its oil-rich seeds, traditionally used in various industrial applications.

Can rapeseed oil be used for cooking?

Traditional rapeseed oil is generally not recommended for cooking due to its high erucic acid content.

Is rapeseed oil good for your health?

Due to its high erucic acid content, rapeseed oil is not considered as healthy as canola oil for regular dietary use.

What is the nutritional difference between rapeseed and canola oil?

Canola oil is lower in erucic acid and has a healthier balance of omega fatty acids compared to traditional rapeseed oil.

How is canola different from rapeseed?

Canola is a type of rapeseed that has been specially bred to reduce harmful erucic acid and glucosinolates.

Can rapeseed be used in animal feed?

Yes, but it is less common due to the preferable nutritional profile of canola meal.

Is canola genetically modified?

Some canola varieties are genetically modified to enhance oil quality and crop resilience.

Why is canola considered healthier than rapeseed?

Canola contains very low levels of erucic acid and glucosinolates, making it safer and more beneficial for human consumption.

What are the main uses of canola oil?

Canola oil is widely used in cooking due to its mild flavor and healthy fat composition.

Are there any environmental concerns associated with growing canola?

Canola cultivation, like any crop, can impact the environment but is generally managed through sustainable agricultural practices.

Where is canola oil primarily produced?

The majority of canola oil production occurs in Canada.

What is the origin of the name "canola"?

The name "canola" comes from "Canadian oil, low acid."

What are the traditional uses of rapeseed oil?

Traditionally, rapeseed oil has been used in industrial contexts, such as lubricants and plastics.

What makes canola oil popular in kitchens?

Its light flavor and high smoke point make it versatile for various cooking methods.

How is canola oil processed?

Canola oil is processed through crushing canola seeds and using solvent extraction or mechanical pressing to obtain the oil.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Maham Liaqat

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