Which is the best cooking oil? — A question that most of us might have always thought about! Everytime you go for grocery shopping, spending hours at a stretch deciding which oil to pick is a common dilemma almost every one of us might have gone through. Some of us might have also asked our family doctors and nutritionist friends on how to pick a healthy cooking oil. However, there is no clear answer to this. So to solve your doubts and help you choose the best cooking oil for your family and stay healthy, we asked Hetal Chheda, Holistic Nutritionist and Founder Your Health Nutrition Clinic, to shed light on which oil is good for the health. Here is what she has to say!
How To Choose The Healthiest Cooking Oil?
With various types of cooking oil available in the market, it becomes difficult to choose the right oil which fits your bill. But when it comes to choosing the best cooking oil for your health, it largely depends not only on the type of oil but also the type of cooking. For example, when choosing a cooking oil for frying, it is important to consider its smoke point, which is the point when the oil starts boiling and releases smoke. If you heat an oil past its smoke point, the oil degrades and releases harmful compounds, which are known as free radicals. These free radicals not only cause inflammation in the body which in turn increases your risk of inflammatory diseases, heart disease, and even cancer.
Ideally, it is recommended to choose oils that contain high amounts of unsaturated fats. This is because these oils are derived from a plant source and contain healthy fats. Moreover, these fats improve the cholesterol levels by increasing the level of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, which is considered as good fats, in the body.
Which Is The Best Cooking Oil For Health?
It goes without saying that choosing the right type of oil is the key to stay healthy. Certain oils are a great source of healthy fats such as monounsaturated fatty acids(MUFA) and polyunsaturated fatty acids(PUFA). These type of fats are good for health as it provides energy, boosts immunity, supports cell growth and protects the organs. Oils rich in unsaturated fats include:
-Olive oil(Extra Virgin)
-Sesame Seed oil
-Coconut oil(Cold pressed virgin)
Which Is The Best Cooking Oil For The Heart?
Saturated fats are not so good for the heart as it can increase the level of triglycerides in the blood. Triglycerides are a type of fats which can increase the risk of high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and coronary heart disease. It is better to choose unsaturated fats as it is considered heart friendly. Unsaturated fats are often described as ‘good fat’ as it helps in lowering bad cholesterol, which is a risk factor for heart disease. Hence, it is advised to replace oils rich in saturated fats with those containing good amounts of unsaturated fats.
Moreover, choose the oils which are less refined as it retains essential nutrients and fats which are good for the overall health including the heart. This is the reason why vegetable oils are considered as the best cooking oils for the heart. Some of the commonly available vegetable oils include canola oil, groundnut oil, coconut oil, mustard oil, sesame seed oil, and olive oil.
It is always best to use a combination of oils, a mixture of one or two types of oil, at the same time. For example, use olive oil for salad dressings, stir-fries and Italian meals and opt coconut oil for smoothies and cooking. Groundnut oil is considered as the best cooking oil for frying as it has a very high smoke point.
It is also important to use the right amount of oil while cooking. It is best to opt for cooking methods that require less amount of oil such as baking and sauteing. So instead of deep-frying a cutlet, use less oil and pan-searing method (in which the surface of the food is cooked at high temperature until a browned crust forms) which will help you stay healthy.
How Much Oil Per Day Is Healthy?
According to the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Indian diet should comprise of around 15-30% of fats. As oils form a major part of our diet, ensuring you meet the dietary requirement is essential for a healthy life. It is recommended that a person should consume 30 ml of oil per day, which equals to two tablespoons. Moreover, all the cooking oils have almost the same amount of calories and hence, the one with high amounts of unsaturated fats is considered to be the best cooking oil for health.
In addition to keeping a tab on the intake of cooking oil, there are few things to keep in mind to ensure your daily intake of fats is under control such as:
-Limit your intake of processed foods and ready-to-eat snacks as it also contains a lot of fats which in turn can up your intake of fats.
-Eat bakery products like biscuits, cookies, and pastries in moderation.
– Look for hidden sources of fats such as papads, and pickles, which form an integral part of Indian cuisine. These should be consumed in moderate quantities.
-Replace processed butter with ghee and avoid the use of trans-fats like mayonnaise, margarine, and butter, whenever possible.
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Lalit Kanodia, General Physician)