Cooking Oil is the most important ingredient of the Indian diet. We use cooking oil in almost everything we eat.But do you know that cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of mortality in India, with over 52% of deaths occurring before the age of 70? Look around, most of the middle-aged people are suffering from some kind of heart diseases.
In the urban India, the prevalence of diabetes mellitus has almost doubled in the past 20 years, from 9% to 17%, and has nearly quadrupled from 2% to 9% in rural areas. This can be attributed to a rapid rise in the mean levels of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, non–high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides in Indians.
Remember the good old times when our ancestors remained fit and healthy even at the age of 70. They used traditionally extracted and indigenous oils like mustard, coconut, sesame and groundnut and we use refined oil for cooking.
Here are a few tips to keep your heart healthy by choosing the right oil.
Avoid consuming refined oils as much as possible. We have explained in our previous blog as to why refined oils are unhealthy.
Instead of refined oils and vanaspati oils, use filtered (or cold-pressed oils). Read our blog on cold-pressed oils to know more.
The cold-pressed oils are a bit costlier than the normal refined oils available in the market. In case it exceeds your budget, you should look for the following properties while buying any cooking oil from the market.
No TBHQ (tertiary butylhydroquinone):
It is added in processed foods to extend shelf life and prevent rancidity. Some studies suggest that it leads to increased incidence of tumours in rats as well as liver enlargement, paralysis and various other diseases in lab animals.
No E900a (or INS 900a, polydimethylsiloxane)
It acts as an anti-foaming agent in food. Under high temperature, it generates formaldehyde which is a carcinogen.
Look for oils high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats while low in saturated fats. One exception for this point is coconut oil which is rich in medium-chain saturated fatty acids that are healthier.
( Do watch this amazing video by Xzimer Medicare to get more insights. )
It is not healthy to use the same type of oil for a long time. It is also important to use the right oil for the dish you are preparing.
Groundnut oil has a high smoke point hence is good for deep-frying and stir-frying.
Sesame oil has a moderately high smoke point and is best for medium and low heat.
Mustard oil is a superstar when it comes to heart health. It has a near ideal omega 3 to omega 6 ratios of 1:2 and hence is good in balancing cholesterol levels.
According to the renowned nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar, you should go for native Indian oils as they are most suitable for the environmental conditions we live in and the dishes we eat. It’s good to have olive oil if you live in Italy; hence don’t get swayed by the high-end marketing done by the EU on their oil.
Never reuse any oil for deep-frying! These oils develop trans-fats and other dangerous substances that can be highly harmful to your heart.