New research suggests rapeseed oil can reduce heart problems. CARYS THOMAS researches the benefits of the oil.

RAPESEED oil is made from the black seeds of the rapeseed plant which is a crop which can be grown in the UK and is one of a handful of oils grown in this country. The plant, Brassica napus, is from the same Brassica family as vegetables broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.

The seeds are planted in September, produces yellow flowers in springtime and is harvested at the end of July. It can be used as a cooking oil or as a dressing and it’s main competitors are olive and sunflower oil.

After the seeds are harvested they are crushed and can be used for oil, margarines, animal feed, biodiesel and products such as candles. Rapeseed Oil Benefits, an independent, not-for-profit campaign launched by HGCA, which is part of Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, aim to raise awareness of the benefits of rapeseed oil and to information on growing the crops.

They have seen an increase in awareness of the oil from celebrity chefs using the oil on shows such as Saturday Kitchen.

Around 500,000 hectares of rapeseed are harvested in the UK every year according to Rapeseed Oil Benefits. The oil has high levels of calcium, phosphorus and potassium and is high in unsaturated fatty acids.

Therese Coleman, registered dietician at HGCA, said: "Rapeseed oil comes from a plant in the same family as the health-enhancing vegetables broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower and due to its balance of fatty acids, is one of the healthiest cooking oils you can use in the kitchen. Choosing rapeseed oil over other more saturated oils and fats can help lower your blood cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease as part of an overall healthy diet and lifestyle.

“It's great to see a recent surge in the popularity of rapeseed oil as a beneficial alternative to other oils."

Rapeseed oil is high in omega three, six and nine which can maintain healthy cholesterol. According to Rapeseed Oil Benefits the oil has 50 per cent less unhealthy saturated fat than olive oil.

Researchers from St Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, have concluded that rapeseed oil can have the same cholesterol reducing effect as 20mg of statins, which is double the standard daily dose prescribed to many patients.

Led by Professor Dr David Jenkins, better known for coming up with the glycaemic index, the Canadian team found rapeseed oil could cut the risk of heart problems by 7 per cent and also proved to be particularly effective against type-2 diabetes.

Llyr Jones of Blodyn Aur, a Welsh rapeseed oil company, said: “We, were even surprised by the significance of these results. We have always been aware of the health merits of our oil, especially due to the fact we go the extra mile to avoid using any chemicals of solvents when extracting.”

The food company grows cold-pressed rapeseed at Llyr’s farm near Corwen, North Wales.

He said: “Cold-pressing is not the most efficient or cheapest process for oil extraction, but it protects the oil from heat damage and ensures our customers gets the best quality possible in terms of health, taste and colour.”

The research in Canada involved feeding 141 patients with either a loaf of bread high in rapeseed oil or a whole wheat loaf. The research paper, published earlier this month in the journal ‘Diabetes Care,’ found the oil loaf reduced blood glucose and ‘significantly reduced’ bad cholesterol in almost all patients. Interestingly, those with the highest levels of cholesterol benefitted the most.

Meanwhile, patients fed with the whole wheat bread had an improved blood flow after 12 weeks on the diet. The team concluded that combining whole wheat and rapeseed would produce the best effect.

Mr Jones said: “This further strengthens our case that rapeseed oil is not only an excellent culinary choice, but also a good way of improving your diet.

“Blodyn Aur’s 2014 harvest is due to get under way in 3-4 weeks’ time, and we look forward to finding out the taste profile from this year’s crop. Just like wine or olive oil, the taste changes from year to year depending on the growing conditions, but we’re confident it will be just as good as last year’s, if not better, after all the recent sunshine.”

Tracy Parker, heart health dietician at the British Heart Foundation, said: “These findings further demonstrate just how important it is to replace saturated fats such as butter, lard and ghee, with healthier unsaturated fats like olive and rapeseed oil, to help reduce blood cholesterol.

“However, it should not be taken as a sign that patients can throw caution to the wind and stop taking their statins as prescribed. If you have any concerns about your medication speak to your GP.

“The type of fat you eat isn’t the only important factor in a heart healthy diet. While rapeseed oil may benefit your heart, consuming it on top of an unhealthy diet is unlikely to make much difference to your health. You need to make other changes too, like eating more fruit and vegetables, whole grains and eating less sugary, fatty snacks.”

The majority of vegetable oils in the UK contain rapeseed oil. You can use it to bake cakes to reduce saturated fat intake. The oil has 6.6g of saturated fat per 100g.

Different variants of rapeseed oil can have different flavours. The standard oil is often labelled vegetable oil and the cold-pressed oil which is produced using presses and mechanical extraction is sometimes labelled as virgin or extra virgin oil.


Seeded cheese scones tear and share


• 225g self-raising flour

• 1tsp baking powder

• 50g mixed seeds + 1tbsp

• 75g cheese, grated e.g. Cheddar

• 50ml rapeseed oil

• 125ml semi-skimmed milk


1. Preheat the oven to 220°C, gas mark 7.

2. Place the flour, baking powder, 50g seeds and cheese in a bowl. Mix in the oil and milk to form a dough.

3. Divide into 8 and roll into balls.

4. Place 1 ball in the centre of a greased baking tray and then the others around it pressing them in so they all touch.

5. Brush with milk and sprinkle over the remaining 1tbsp seeds.

6. Bake for 10-13 minutes until golden.

Smoked haddock kedgeree


• 200g wholegrain rice

• 1tbsp rapeseed oil

• 1 onion, chopped

• 1tbsp curry powder

• 350g smoked haddock, diced

• 200g frozen peas, defrosted

• 100g half-fat crème fraiche

• 2tbsp chopped parsley

• 2 medium soft boiled eggs, quartered


1. Cook the rice in boiling water for 20-25 minutes, then drain.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the onion for 3-4 minutes.

3. Then add the curry powder, haddock and peas and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

4. Finally, stir in the rice, crème fraiche and parsley and heat through for 1-2 minutes.

5. Serve garnished with the eggs.

Prawn and noodle stir fry


• 250g egg noodles

• 2tbsp rapeseed oil

• 1 red pepper, sliced

• 1 bunch spring onions, cut into 2cm pieces

• 100g mange tout

• 1tbsp tomato puree

• 2tbsp reduced-fat soy sauce

• 2tbsp Thai sweet chilli sauce

• 1tbsp clear honey

• 250g cooked, peeled tiger prawns


1. Cook the noodles in boiling water for 4-5 minutes until tender, then drain.

2. Meanwhile, heat the rapeseed oil in a large frying pan and fry the vegetables for 4-5 minutes.

3. Blend the tomato puree with the soy, chilli sauce and honey and stir into the vegetables with the prawns, cook for 1-2 minutes.

4. Gently stir in the noodles and serve.

All recipes are courtesy of Rapeseed Oil Benefits and more can be found at