Cooking Oil – Types and Options

Cooking Oil – Types and Options We cannot do without oils in our cooking. As Indians, we just cannot! And then they say oils are bad for us. What to do?

Resort to cooking in healthier oils and keep the quantity less. The markets are flooded with numerous options, every brand claiming to be healthier than other. Do away with their marketing gimmicks and get yourself armed with authentic knowledge of basic cooking oils and then decide which one to choose.

What makes a cooking oil unhealthy or healthy is the amount and type of fat present in it. Healthy cooking oils contain high monounsaturated fats, which is the healthiest types of fat and may help in lowering blood cholesterol levels. Other type of healthy cooking oil contains polyunsaturated fats, which can help improve heart health. Mainly, cooking oils are either derived from plants or seeds and nuts. Let’s see their benefits one by one.

Groundnut Oil/Peanut Oil: These two are the most widely consumed oils in India. They contain heart-friendly MUFA (monounsaturated fatty acid) that lower the level of bad cholesterol in our body. In the market, it is available in refined form, which is nutritionally superior.

Sesame Oil: This cold pressed oil is obtained from sesame seeds. It is contains antioxidant and antidepressant properties. It is also said to control blood pressure due to the presence of high levels of polyunsaturated fats in it. It has highest concentrations of Omega 6 fatty acids and Omega 9. Sesame oil is a good source of vitamin E, vitamin B6 and contains minerals like magnesium, copper, calcium and iron. It has long shelf life and doesn’t turn rancid (oxidation of fats) because of its high boiling point.

Olive Oil: Expensive than other oils, olive oil contains many health benefits. Being a monounsaturated fat reduces risk of some cancers, heart diseases and diabetes. It also contains antioxidant phytochemicals, which are healthy too.

Rice Bran Oil: It is new oil that is extracted from rice bran and is unique edible oil with many nutritional benefits. It is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids and contains cholesterol lowering properties. It also contains natural vitamin E. It is the ideal cooking oil since it has good stability. It does not decompose at high temperatures and is suitable for deep frying.

Soyabean Oil: This contains PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acid), especially linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) in appropriate balance, which are good for health. Soyabean oil is suitable for all cooking methods except frying as it gets oxidised at frying temperatures and forms toxic compounds.

Mustard Oil: This oil has a characteristic pungent and sharp flavour and smell. Mustard oil has a higher proportion of MUFA and PUFA. However, it also contains erucic acid, a component which as undesirable effects on health when consumed in large quantity. Mustard oil should be procured from an authentic place only as it can be easily adulterated.

Sunflower Oil: Obtained by pressing sunflower seeds, this is a popular cooking oil rich in PUFA, particularly linoleic acid which lowers both good and bad cholesterol. Sunflower oil is also used to ease constipation. Due to its light flavour, sunflower oil doesn’t overpower the taste of other ingredients and the dish overall.

Coconut Oil: Used as a cooking medium in southern states. Though coconut oil contains saturated fats but they are different from those present in animal fats and does not contain cholesterol and hence can be safely consumed as part of a balanced diet. Nutritionists and dieticians recommend swapping oils every 2 – 3 months.