Canola oil is a calorie-dense fat commonly used in the equine diet to promote weight gain and help maintain body condition. [2]

This oil provides cool energy for performance horses and can replace grain-based feeds in your horse’s ration to support metabolic health. [1] Feeding fat also improves coat quality and can support gut health.

Compared to other oils, canola oil is relatively affordable and widely available. However, some horse owners might not want to feed this oil due to its fatty acid profile.

Canola oil is primarily comprised of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids and contains more than twice the amount of omega-6 fatty acids compared to omega-3 fatty acids. [3]

The balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids in the diet is important because omega-3s are converted into anti-inflammatory molecules, whereas omega-6s are converted primarily into pro-inflammatory compounds.

Characteristics of Canola Oil

Canola is a plant crop that belongs to the mustard family (Brassicaceae). [3] Widely grown in Canada, Europe, Australia, and some parts of the United States, canola is used for animal feeds, biofuel production, and the food industry. [3]

The most common canola plant species grown in Canada include Brassica napus, Brassica rapa, and Brassica juncea. [3]

Canola plants produce flowers that develop into pod-like structures with seeds containing 45% oil and high in protein. Oil derived from canola is lower in trans fat and saturated fat than some other vegetable oils. [3]

Extraction

Commercial canola oil is produced by crushing the seeds of the plant and extracting the oil. The seeds can be cold-pressed or treated with heat and a solvent (hexane) to release more oil.

Further refining of the oil produces a clear, neutral-tasting, and shelf-stable oil. Refined canola oil is stable for approximately one year when stored at room temperature.

Canola meal is the byproduct that remains following extraction of the oil from the seeds. Canola meal is a cost-effective, high-protein feed for horses.

Canola vs. Rapeseed

Canola plants are not the same as rapeseed plants. Although bred from rapeseed plants, canola plants contain less than 2% erucic acid and under 30 micromoles of glucosinolates per gram of canola meal (air-dried and oil-free). [3]

High intake of glucosinolates has been associated with negative health effects such as reduced feed intake, liver damage, and impaired thyroid and reproductive function in other species. [15]

Due to the lower glucosinolate content, canola should be fed to livestock rather than rapeseed.

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Canola Oil Nutritional Composition

In addition to canola oil, several supplemental oils are commonly used in equine diets, including camelina, flax, soy, corn, fish and rice bran.

Although every oil provides the same energy per gram serving, each has a different fatty acid profile that can influence the horse’s health.

Fatty Acid Profile of Canola Oil

Fatty acids are generally classified as saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. Saturated fats have no double bonds in their structure, whereas monounsaturated fatty acids have one double bond and polyunsaturated fatty acids have two or more.

When fatty acids are incorporated into structures of cells in the animal, the number of double bonds influences membr