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  • Writer's pictureAakansha Mahajan

Many types of cooking oils but which one to choose?

COOKING OILS- ahaaan- a matter of many side table debates. Your nutritionist or dietician thinks you should use it in moderation, your grandmother has asked you to slather a bottleful on your skin and hair, your friend cannot stop talking about the extra virgin variety she has been tossing up salads with. Urgghhh. Whatever your take on oil be, you cannot go too far in the kitchen and life, unless you befriend that bottle of oil.

Also, these days, the shelf of the cooking-oil section of the supermarket is a crowded spot. This abundance of oil options always causes confusion about which oils may be the healthiest ones to use.

Which oil is best for you and your family? Getting the quantity and quality of fat in the diet right can be confusing enough for health professionals, let along for the general public.

However, home cooks have plenty of options when it comes to choosing which type of oil to sauté, bake and drizzle with. Some, like olive oil and well known whereas others like avocado or coconut oil are less familiar.

So now the question comes again- which oil is best for you and your health? If you are wondering about the health benefits of the oil which you are using or if you are confused about which one to choose and which one to stop using, I have got you covered.

I too focus greatly on what I put in my mouth and how is it going to impact me. I am not like this since always but more on that in the upcoming blogs. :P

Coming back, since I too concentrate on healthy lifestyle, I have done my part of research on the different types of oils- which ones are good or bad for human body, how they should be consumed and in what quantities etc which, I am sure, will be helpful to you all as well.

The variety of oils in the market is never ending- from age old used ghee to mustard oil to olive oil, refined oils, vegetables oil, avocado oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil and so on and so forth. Also, each variety has its own benefits and side-effects.

But let’s be honest, practically not all of them can used in our everyday life, so I will be talking about the 4 major categories of oils which are most commonly used in our kitchens:

1. Ghee

2. Mustard oil

3. Refined oil vs vegetable oil

4. Olive oil

Before I start, the important thing is- no matter which type of oil you are using, moderation is the key. For a healthy living, one must not consume more than 3-4 tablespoons of oil per day. This 3-4 teaspoon includes every part of every meal from tossing to cooking to sautéing to spreading ghee on the chapatis. Remember that- excess of anything is bad especially OIL.

1. Desi Ghee:

Ghee is a natural food with a long history of medical and culinary uses. Even though there are a lot of arguments around usage and non-usage of ghee for a healthy lifestyle, the answer is all about the fats which a particular oil contains. Some fats are good for us while others are not, and ghee is one such food that is actually beneficial for overall health even though it contains a mix of both kinds of fat. The heart-friendly unsaturated fats are responsible for making it a healthy food.

If consumed in adequate quantities- ghee being natural has many benefits- it prevents cancer, it is good for your heart, has anti-inflammatory properties and is good for hair and skin.

Please note: Although ghee provides a number of health benefits, it is important to note that ghee does contain saturated fats, an excess of which can increase bad cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease. So do not consume more than 3-4 teaspoons a day if you want to stay on a safer side.

2. Mustard oil:

Mustard oil (sarson ka tel) is extracted from mustard seeds. This oil has many culinary and therapeutic advantages over other kinds of oil in the market. If consumed in adequate quantity- mustard oil promotes heart health, helps in blood circulation, provides relief from cold and cough and promotes hair growth.

However, as many of us are already aware that mustard oil is banned for edible consumption in the EU, USA and Canada. This is because of erucic acid content. If taken in large quantities, mustard oil has a tendency to increase the uric acid in the body and hence impacts heart health. Therefore, it must be used only in small quantities to be able to rightly take it as an advantage.

3. Olive oil:

Olive oil is extremely healthy.

It is naturally loaded with beneficial fatty acids and powerful antioxidants.

However, many people believe that it is unsuitable for cooking due to its unsaturated fat content. Others claim that it is an excellent choice for cooking- even for high-heat methods like frying.

So, after doing a lot of research and reading so many articles, I have come to a conclusion that olive oil contains vitamin E and many powerful antioxidants, which give numerous health benefits. Extra virgin olive oil is an especially healthy fat that retains its beneficial qualities during cooking. The only main downside is that overheating can adversely impact its flavour and hence should not be used for deep frying.

However, olive oil is quite resistant to heat and doesn’t oxidise or go rancid during cooking.

So yes- it is not only an excellent cooking oil, but it is also one of the healthiest.

You can enjoy using it (in moderation) guilt-free...!!

4. Vegetable oils Vs Refined oils:

Vegetable oil is considered as virgin or refined according to the way it has been extracted. If the extraction is done by pressing- a natural process in which the oil seeds are naturally pressed, it is called virgin oil. Since no heat is involved in their extraction, they are also called cold pressed oils. Sesame, coconut, groundnut, olive oils are a few examples.

These kinds of oils are good for our body and can be consumed without any doubt. Of course, in moderation thought!

However, if the extraction is carried out by solvents, then it is called refined oil, which allows one to obtain a ‘standardised’ oil by modifying its fatty acids.

Oil seeds such as rapeseed (canola), soybean, sunflower, corn etc CANNOT yield oil through natural extraction techniques. These vegetable oils were non-existent until the early 1950’s when chemical treatment and processing (refining) techniques allowed them to be extracted. Because these oils are chemically extracted, they need to be refined, our bodies are not meant to consume chemically extracted refined oils.

After refinement, the original composition of the oil deeply modifies that results in an almost total loss of the high nutritional value elements- making it very unhealthy. This chemical process yields oil that is very unhealthy, but very consistent in terms of color, smell, odor and shelf life.

When you take a natural food product and expose it to multiple chemical processes, how can it be natural and healthy?

Hence, refined oils are a complete NO NO for all human beings.

Whether you are on a diet or not, if you wish to live a healthy life- refined oils must be completely removed from your kitchen. Do it today!

And in the end, I would also like to emphasise on the fact that reused oils are BAD for us.

Many of us have the tendency to reuse the same oil again and again which we have used for frying for ample of times.

Please know that each time you reuse an oil, it gets more and more destabilised until it decomposes. The way the oil starts looking when its starts to decompose is very distinct. Hence, re-using the same oil should be avoided as much as possible because it again has several health impacts.

I hope this will turn out to be useful for many of you and you will start thinking of putting the right things in your kitchen shelf- for the healthy you!

Do let me know if this helped you in any way or if there is something which I may have missed in the comment section below.

Disclaimer: The above views are solely of the author and its acceptance depends on reader’s choice completely.

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