Cooking Oil is an essential part of every kitchen. It is almost inevitable while preparing a dish. It is the main part of most Indian dishes. Right from our morning breakfast, evening snacks to the main course and not to forget sweets, almost everything is cooked in oil. It can lessen your risk from heart diseases, cholesterol, blockages, obesity and digestion problems. So, a wise person would choose the right cooking oil in order to maintain their health.
Now the question arises on how to choose the best and healthiest cooking oil. There is a sea of different, varied cooking oils on the market. The shelves of supermarkets are decked up with so many brands of cooking oil. In India, using oil largely depends on different regions. For example, in Kerala coconut oil is used, in Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan sesame oil is used and in Gujarat, groundnut oil is used. However, times have changed now. There are changes in climate, the lifestyle of people and health concerns.
Let’s look at 7 different types of cooking oil, which ones are healthiest and which ones are better than the other:
Coconut Oil –
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This is the healthiest for Indian style of cooking. Not just in India, people around the world have started realizing its benefits. It contains saturated fats and known to work well at very high temperatures.
Benefits – It has numerous benefits right from food digestion to fighting infection, better hair and skin care. It prevents liver and kidney infection, strengthens the body’s immune system. Fights bacteria, increase metabolism and heals damaged tissues.
Caution– Due to saturated fats, it can affect the total blood cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.
2. Sunflower Oil –
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The yellow flowers can be a good source of nutritive rich cooking oil. It is a mixture of monounsaturated (MUFA) and polyunsaturated (PUFA) fatty acids. We Indians love the taste of sunflower oil. Sunflower oil has a high smoking point, that is, it holds onto its nutritional content at higher temperatures. That is exactly why it is widely used in India for deep frying chips, samosas and vegetables.
Benefits – It is an antioxidant and has a good source of vitamin E. Use of this oil reduces cardiovascular diseases, fight free radicals (for cancer patients), beneficial for arthritis. It can also prevent colon cancer, repairs the body, boost the immune system and promotes the proper functioning of the nervous system.
Caution – As the oil contains high omega-6 content as it can be bothersome for people suffering from obesity or cholesterol-related issue. Even diabetic patients should be aware of it, as it can increase sugar levels.
3. Groundnut Oil –
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This oil is an outcome of a variety of vegetable oil derived from peanuts. It is most commonly used in Asian foods and it is available in varieties such as roasted, unrefined and refined. It makes for a good combination of fats and has good monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Benefits – Its health benefits include lowering cholesterol, controlling blood pressure, reducing heart ailment risks, fighting cancer, degenerative nerve disease, Alzheimer’s disease etc. It improves immunity and protects the skin against wrinkles.
Caution – The fatty acids in groundnut oil are healthy only to a certain extent. It is also high in calories and can lead to weight gain. Unfortunately, it also produces smoke at high temperatures.
4. Olive Oil –
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Olive oil has been an important part of the Mediterranean diet for ages. It is the current favorite of health-conscious people.
Benefits – It is known as ‘heart-friendly oil,’ as it reduces cholesterol levels in the body. It reduces arthritis pain, lowers the risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Its monounsaturated fats content lowers the risk of heart disease and breast cancer.
Caution – Olive oil mixes with free chemicals and becomes hydrogenated when heated. This leads to the production of harmful trans-fatty acids. It also tends to lower blood sugar level, hence diabetics should limit its use.
5. Mustard Oil –
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This oil is a big part of Indian cooking. It is widely used for massages as it increases blood circulation. Its high smoking point makes it ideal for deep frying.
Benefits – It is capable of improving digestion, fighting germs and virus, preventing cold, cough and skin problems. It is also known to be antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory.
Caution – It is advised to not use mustard oil as the sole cooking medium. Mustard oil when consumed in large quantities can cause respiratory issues, diarrhea, and anemia.
6. Canola Oil –
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Not quite common in Indian kitchens, however, it is being noticed. It is made from crushed seeds of the canola plant. It is said to have the lowest saturated fat content of any oil. What makes it the healthiest cooking oil is, its rich monounsaturated fat and Omega content. In last few years, Olive Oil & Canola Oil have outshined the Indian Desi Ghee & the usage of Traditional Mustard Oil.
Benefits – Due to its medium smoking point, it works well for fries, baking, sautéing etc. Canola oil also helps in reducing blood pressure, inflammation, and cholesterol. It can be used a substitute to butter.
Caution: It is advised to not use Canola as the only cooking oil, as in long run this can affect the memory, brain health & learning abilities.
7. Rice Bran Oil –
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This oil is popular amongst fitness freaks and manufacturers. It is made from the outer layer (bran) of the grain of rice. It has been named as the healthiest oil on the planet by health experts. A chemical called oryzanol responsible for cholesterol is present in rice bran oil. It has a high amount of monosaturated fats and an average amount of polyunsaturated fats too. Also, it has a high smoking point, making it ideal for deep frying.
Benefits – It improves blood cholesterol and increases the proportion of good cholesterol in the body. It alleviates menopausal symptoms.
Caution – While it works towards lowering the amount of blood calcium in the body, discouraging the formation of kidney stones, it makes one vulnerable to hypocalcemia on the other hand. Consuming it in large quantity can also cause irregular bowel movements.
There are so many other types of cooking oil varying in properties. So read the above, weigh the options and select!
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