Healthy cooking oils

Healthy Cooking Oils for Indian Cooking

Looking for an oil good for cooking? We’ve got your back. Oils come in several varieties based on the seeds they are sourced from and the technique used in their extraction. Here’s all you need to know about the different types of healthy cooking oils and how they are beneficial to you.

Healthy Cooking Oils for Indian Cooking

Introduction

Traditional Indian cookery is incomplete without oil. From deep frying the savouries to sautéing vegetables, oil forms the basis of Indian cuisine, where the temperatures can go above 170 °C. However, certain oils can degrade into toxic substances like free radicals and repeated frying can also contribute to further damage. This leads to an increase in components that are harmful for the heart as well. 
Thus, it is essential to note that the type of oil you opt for can significantly impact your health. Read on to find out the varieties of healthy oils available so that you can pick the best for your family.

Types of Cooking Oils

1.    Cold pressed oil:

  • This oil is produced by applying mechanical force to the seeds and can be used directly for consumption without undergoing heat treatment. 
  • It is a high-quality oil and is generally not refined. 
  • Cold pressed oil retains much of its flavour, aroma as well as the phenolic substances, which are plant compounds like carotenoids and Vitamin E which are acclaimed for their role in good health. 
  • This is also called unrefined oil and is considered a healthy cooking oil. 

2.     Refined oil:

  • This oil is a purified oil obtained from oil cakes and seeds with the help of highly intense mechanical and chemical processes. 
  • Here, the seeds are crushed and heated to high temperatures up to 270 °C. 
  • Exposing the oils to such high temperatures leads to the loss of antioxidants and can form free radicals, which are harmful for health. 

3. Blended Oils:

  • The process of blending is a combination technique where two or more edible oils are mixed together. 
  • Blended oils are used to enhance the stability of oils and offer a balance of antioxidants and fatty acids. 
  • Examples of oil blends include rice bran oil and safflower oil, canola and flaxseed oil. 
  • Based on the type of oil used, blended oils may reduce LDL-C which is the bad type of fat and a risk factor for coronary heart disease.

Best cooking oils for health

  1. Olive Oil: Olive oil is an essential part of the Mediterranean & diet, and is considered one of the healthy oils due to its high monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) content, namely oleic acid. It also contains phenolic compounds, which are known to confer benefits to human health. Cold pressed olive oil used for cooking benefits us in many other ways. For instance, its positive effects range across cardiovascular, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory functions. Extra virgin olive oil that has undergone no refining process is the best edible oil for health as it is stable at high temperatures. It can also transfer some of its beneficial compounds to the food that is cooked in it, thus enriching the final dish. Try this Zucchini Noodles recipe made using olive oil.
  2. Mustard Oil: It is a healthy oil for Indian cooking as it has a low content of Saturated Fatty Acid which is an unhealthy fat, and is high in MUFA and PUFA - the good fats. Omega fats, namely omega 3 and omega 6, are considered essential fatty acids that are anti-inflammatory and exhibit cardiovascular function. It is important to maintain a healthy ratio of omega 3 and omega 6, and it is observed that modern diets are extremely high in omega 6 which could be a prominent factor for several of the diseases associated with current times. Mustard oil benefits in cooking also include its ability to retain stability in high temperatures. Additionally, it may be associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease when compared to other oils. Don’t forget to check out this delicious mustard fish curry recipe
  3. Sunflower Oil: When it comes to making a list of healthy oils, we can’t possibly forget sunflower oil. This natural cooking oil is one of the most predominant vegetable oils in the market, and is popularly used for deep-frying. The process of frying with sunflower oil can produce foods beneficial for the heart as frying leads to the exchange of nutrients between the oil and the food. From the nutritional perspective, sunflower oil is rich in linoleic acid - an essential n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) which acts in responding to inflammation. It also has an effect on cholesterol buildup, and affects the reduction of total cholesterol. A particular type of sunflower oil, namely Oleic Type Sunflower Oil is very important from a nutritional perspective as it has a role to play in the prevention of heart related conditions. However, it is better to use sunflower oil in moderation as it is high in omega 6 fatty acids that can be harmful when consumed in excess. 
  4. Rice Bran Oil: Rice bran oil is made by processing the outermost layer of rice known as chaff. Because of its high smoking quality, this oil is ideal for all types of cooking, including stir-frying and deep-frying. It is a well-known cooking oil that is widely used in Asian countries such as India, Japan, Bangladesh, and China. 
  5. Canola Olive Oil: The most common type of blended oil is usually a mix of canola and olive oil. This combination results in an oil that carries an extravagant olive oil flavour and imparts many health benefits to the human body. 

Is refined oil good for health?

The purpose of refining an oil is to remove the impurities that affect its quality, which would result in reducing its shelf life and acceptance by consumers. However, during the refining process, oils are put through high temperatures that may result in their degradation and produce toxic substances. 
So if you’ve been pondering over the question ‘is refined oil good for health’ - the answer to that is it’s advisable to avoid refined oils. Using cold-pressed or extra virgin oils instead is preferred as they retain their nutritional value and these oils are good for cooking and enhancing the nutritional value of foods!

Conclusion

Oil is an essential ingredient in most meals and a source of healthy fats. However, not all oils are the same, and it’s worth it to walk the extra mile to select a natural cooking oil that does not have deteriorating effects on your health. Besides, while some oils hold superiority over others due to their nutritional profile, it is wise to consume them in moderation owing to their high calorific value. 

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