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 middle-aged people are suffering from some kind of heart disease
In 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 that had several health benefits. While we use refined oils for cooking.
Tips to keep your heart healthy by choosing the right oil
Avoid consuming refined oils as much as possible. Their processing removes natural nutrients. Refer to our previous 'Why refined oils are unhealthy?' to know more.
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 temperatures, it generates formaldehyde which is a carcinogen.
- Look for oils high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats while low in saturated fats. One exception to 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 ratio 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.
Which oil is best for cooking?
The oils are very versatile and have different uses in cooking. Mustard oil is used for light browning while sesame oil is best suited for high-heat deep-frying and groundnut oil has a higher smoke point hence it's good for deep-frying.
What cooking oils are healthiest?
Some oils are healthier than others. It is best to choose a natural oil as it contains no additives or fillers and has the lowest trans-fat content. These include canola, coconut, sesame and groundnut oils. The best oils to use are those that are free from additives such as trans-fats or other harmful chemicals.
If you are cooking with oils, it is important to use the right oil for the dish you are preparing. Oils are a vital part to many of the foods we eat, so it is important for you to understand which oils are best for you. Remember that you are what you eat, so choose the right cooking oil for your health.