Choose Your Oils Wisely
Oils are not a food group but they do provide us essential nutrients. Cooking oil is inevitable for preparing any dish. Most of the fats we eat should be mono unsaturated or poly unsaturated fats. Oils are the major source of such fats in our diet. While consuming some oil is necessary for health, oil still contains some calories. Hence only small amounts of oils are recommended. Here are a few facts about different edible oils.
- Soybean oil, extracted from soybean, is a good source of anti-oxidants which remain in the oil even after it is extracted. Soybean oil also contains Omega-3 fatty acids and poly-unsaturated fats.
- Coconut oil contains anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial properties and also contains lauric acid which is beneficial for the heart. The fat in coconut oil gets used by the body as energy instead of being stored. Coconut oil provides one of the best natural and essential nutrients to the hair.
- Olive oil reduces bad cholesterol and raises good cholesterol. It also contains high levels of anti-oxidants particularly Vitamin-E and phenols. It is best used raw on salads and already cooked food as cooking destroys its nutritional value.
- Mustard oil has a distinctive pungent taste because of a compound called Allyl Isothiocynate. It has about 60 per cent of mono unsaturated fats. It is popular cooking oil in many parts of India.
- Groundnut oil has high amount of good fats, a high smoke point and is ideal for use in cooking since it cannot absorb or transfer the food flavours.
- Sunflower oil is also ideal for deep-frying since it is highly oleic oil which has high monounsaturated fats and contains no harmful trans fat. The oil is mild in flavour and also high in antioxidant vitamin-E.
- Canola oil is derived from a relative of mustard called rapeseed and is considered as the third most friendly cooking oil for heart after olive and sunflower oils. It is very much suitable for deep frying since it has a neutral flavour.
- Sesame oil contains Vitamin-E that acts as an anti-oxidant. It is dark in colour, has a unique flavour and has been used in cooking traditionally, particularly in southern parts of India. This is known to be one of the best oils with innumerable health benefits. I take this opportunity to quote the incident of how a lady got cured with the help of this oil. A sick lady who was suffering from severe breathing difficulty used to sit near a lamp which her husband used to light near god, daily. This lady by sitting near the light inhaled the mild smoke that emanated from the diya (light). After a few days she realised that she got relieved from the problem. Such is the goodness of sesame oil.
- Rice bran oil is extracted from the husk and germ of rice. It has a high smoking point and ideal for deep frying. It is one of the healthiest oils. It has an anti-oxidant compound, oryzanol, which does not get destroyed even after heating. It decreases LDL cholesterol and increases the proportion of HDL cholesterol.
By Nibhanapudi Suguna