Can rapeseed oil replace olive oil as part of a Mediterranean-style diet?
The present narrative review compares evidence from experimental, epidemiological and clinical studies of the health benefits of rapeseed oil (RO) (known as canola oil) and olive oil (OO) in order to assess whether rapeseed oil is suitable as a sustainable alternative to OO as part of a Mediterranean-style diet in countries where olive trees do not grow. From epidemiological studies, the evidence for cardiovascular protection afforded by extra-virgin OO is ‘convincing’, and for cancers ‘limited-suggestive’, especially oestrogen receptor-negative breast cancer, but more studies are required in relation to cognitive impairment. Evidence for RO is limited to short-term studies on the biomarkers of risk factors for CVD. Any benefits of RO are likely to be due to a-linolenic acid; however, it is prone to oxidation during frying. We conclude that due to a lack of evidence from observational or intervention studies indicating that RO has comparable health benefits to extra-virgin OO, RO cannot currently be recommended as a suitable substitute for extra-virgin OO as part of a Mediterranean-style diet.