We cannot separate oil from cooking or substitute it. But there are people who just want to avoid oil in whatever foods they consume. Some people ignore oil without any proper guidance from a professional Doctor. Irrespective of the disease or bodily conditions, oil seems to be the primary thing that people want to avoid using. So is it really true that oil needs to be avoided at all costs? How to use the oil for a healthier life?
Does usage of oil depend on climatic conditions?
At a particular location in India, people have been using coconut oils for decades and they claim themselves to be healthy. At the same time people from a different state in India has been using mustard oil for hundreds of years and they seem to be doing just fine when it comes to health. So usage of different types and kinds oils varies with varying geographical location and climatic conditions.
What are the contents of oil?
Fat plays a vital role in our everyday diet. It is essential for our well being. Additionally, it is not a good idea to ignore fat. We can source fat from different food items and oil is one of the main sources.
Fat contains high levels of calories over carbohydrates and protein. 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories. Our body sources nearly 15 to 20% energy from fat on a daily basis. Fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K need fat to get absorbed into our body.
Fat is good but why?
Naturally, oil is good for our health. It plays a very vital role in many bodily functions like it dissolves vitamins like A, D, E, and K from the food we eat, it helps with the secretion of important hormones like thyroid, pituitary, and insulin. It keeps the body temperature under control. It stores energy and uses it at times of emergency.
Though oil is essential, it would do more good if we use it in the right quantity. It would a mistake if we avoid oil completely by claiming it to be unhealthy. Oil and ghee are fat, but we should have the right mind set of keeping it aside after consuming it at a nominal quantity. Otherwise, we might end up eating more oily foods and snacks.
Types of Fat
Broadly there are two types of Fats. One is monounsaturated fat. This fat is present in groundnut oil, sesame seeds oil, olive oil, rice bran oil, and mustard oil. This fat is good for our health.
The second type is polyunsaturated fat. This is present in sunflower oil, soya oil, and corn oil. When we consume oils rich in these two types of fats we can effectively avoid bad cholesterol. It will effectively increase the level of good cholesterol. In turn, it will keep our body in healthy condition.
When unsaturated fat is used repeatedly, reheated, and heated at high temperatures for cooking foods, it turns into saturated fat. Saturated fat is bad for our health.
Fat is essential
Vegetables and meat varieties have fat content. But whenever we think about the fat only thing that strikes our minds is oils. Even a vegetarian person can have high levels of fat in his blood, and this is not uncommon. To prevent heart attack and heart diseases our body should have HDL ( High-density Lipoproteins Protein)
Essential fatty acid, Omega 3, and Omega 6 belongs to poly unsaturated fatty acid. These acids are good for our body and health. Additionally, it is rich in Rice Bran oil, sunflower oil, ground nut oil, and fish liver oil. These oils will reduce the levels of bad cholesterol and protects our heart.
Is over heating dangerous?
When over heat the oil or over boil the oil it gives our smoke. We call this as Smoke Pyramid. Once the oil starts to give out smoke it turns harmful for our health. Heavily heated oils will start to change the fat content in it to trans fat. Trans fat is a type of unsaturated fat but it is doubly harmful over saturated fat. Consuming foods rich in trans fat could lead to heart attacks and cancer.
What oil, how to use it, and what quantity?
- Groundnut or peanut oil, mustard oil, olive oil, sesame oil are good for regular cooking. We can regularly use any two of these oils on a daily basis.
- Sunflower oil, rice bran oil, soy oil should only be used for deep frying purposes.
- We can use all of these oils in cycles. No matter what oil you use, a person needs only 4 tablespoons of oil a day for consumption.
- A person can consume up to 2 tablespoons of melted ghee per day.
- 15 to 25 grams of EFA is sufficient for a day per person. It is a good practice to use two to three types of oils.
- A single person can consume up to 500 ml to 750 ml of a particular type of cooking oil per month.
- Vanaspati or vegetable oil should be avoided at all cost.
What is the best oil?
Vanaspati or vegetable oil is not a natural oil. It doesn’t spoil easily and has more shelf life. It is extremely harmful.
Oils used for crispy fries get spoiled easily. Coconut oil was considered as bad for our health because of its high cholesterol levels by scientific community long time back. But all the studies that lead to this conclusion used heavily heated coconut oil. On the contrary to this studies, coconut oils that are manufactured by natural methods have the capacity to fight against heart diseases, and many other diseases. This is confirmed by many scientific studies. Additionally, several studies found out that coconut oil contains long-chain fatty acids and it is rich in good fat content.
Too much oil is definitely harmful!
Every type of cooking oil contains saturated fat and unsaturated fat. The difference only lies in its ratio. No matter what oil we use for cooking, a single gram of oil contains 9 calories of energy. We increase the level of calorie intake when we consume high levels of oil. Excess calories will get converted to fat in the liver and it could, in turn, become harmful for our health.
How to use the oils?
- We can use separate oil types for cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- We can use separate oil type for each month in cycles.
- Mustard oil has high levels of unsaturated fat. One liter of mustard oil contains 70 to 80% of unsaturated fat.
- Mustard oil contains less quantity of Triglycerides. It helps to keep the brain agile and healthy. Reduces stress. Reduces fat. Prevents cancer. On the whole mustard oil is a great option for cooking.
- Olive can be used occasionally. It gets spoiled if heated. It can be used without heating.
Do’s and Dont’s with oil
- Stuff that needs to deep fried should be dropped in oil after the oil has reached the right temperature. We should not drop the stuff and start heating the oil to deep fry it.
- Avoid dropping all the vegetables or stuff that needs to deep fried in a single go. This will increase the time taken for the cooking process and will make the vegetables and other stuff to absorb more oil. This is not good for our health.
- Do not pour the fresh uncooked oil into pre used oil for cooking.
- Do not reuse the deep fried oils.
- No matter what oil you use, use it at right quantities.
- Cooking oils should not be exposed to very high temperature and sunlight.
- It is always dangerous to place the oils near your stove.
Benefits of oils
- It will increase the immunity.
- It protects the internal organs in our body.
- It helps with the production of certain hormones.
- It keeps the skin glowing.
- It helps with growth. Additionally, it helps with proper functioning of the internal organs.
When does the oil turn out to be harmful?
When we reuse and reheat the oil for cooking repeatedly it turns the fat content in it to trans fat. Trans fat is the primary reason for heart diseases and cancer. Many packaged foods and deep fried foods in the market is rich in trans fat, so it is better to avoid them completely.
Read the contents section in any ready made snacks you want to buy. If there is a mentioning like “Trans fat” do not buy it.
Use the right amount of oil to deep fry foods and consume them. It is a bad idea to reuse deep fried oils. This will increase the level of trans fat in it and it can turn out to be poisonous and harmful.
Why is sesame oil the best?
- Sesame oil is claimed to be the best oil by many Doctors and dieticians. This oil is extracted from sesame seeds and it is rich in nutrients.
- It has high levels of Vitamin B6, E, antioxidants, and minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium, copper, and calcium.
- Sesame seeds oil is rich in Linoleic acid and Mono Unsaturated Fatty Acid (MUFA), this makes it the best option for cooking, and it is really healthy for our body.
- Apart from cooking, sesame oil is also used for skin care and other medicinal uses.
- It is the best option for oil baths as it effectively reduces body temperature.
- Peanut oil or Groundnut oil
- Peanut oil is a good option for cooking. It reduces unneeded cholesterol in our body and supplies us with needed fat. It helps to maintain a healthy weight. It prevents cancer tumor formations.
- Those who believe consuming foods cooked with ground nut oil will increase the fat content in our body can add a little tamarind extract to their foods. Fiber content present in tamarind will burn the fat.
- Coconut oil is widely used in Kerala in India. They not only use it for cooking but also use it externally over their bodies.
- Add a little bit of coconut oil while cooking will add extra aroma to the food.
- It keeps us cool and also retains the moisture levels in our skin. As long as there is no external coloring, it remains transparent.
- Fatty acids present in coconut oil helps to reduce bad fat. It helps to maintain healthy body weight. It enhances the digestion process and prevents constipation.
- Flaxseed oil has been becoming widely popular lately. It’s Omega 3 is similar to the Omega 3 present in fish. This reduces bad fat and increases the level of good fat in our body.
- It has unique smell and color. A chemical substance called Sesamin is responsible for this.
- Sesamin potentially stops the aging process of the skin.
- This oil prevents heart diseases. It maintains the high blood pressure under control.
- Having a good oil bath by applying flaxseed oil to the entire body will make the skin glow.
- It reduces the body’s temperature. Additionally, it can also be used as a topping for our foods.
- Mustard oil, as the name, suggests it is manufactured from mustard seeds. This type of oil is commonly used by North Indians. It is best suited for their climatic conditions.
- It has a little spicy taste to it. It increases the body temperature to some extent. It cures cold and fever.
- It reduces the levels of cholesterol in the body. It protects us from heart diseases. It helps to reduce pain due to arthritis.
- Sulfur present in mustard oil will eliminate the toxins in our body.
- It increases the digestion capacity. Additionally, it is rich in antioxidants and antibacterial properties. It prevents the growth of cancer cells. It helps in maintaining healthy skin and hair.
Rice Bran Oil
Rice bran oil truly adds color and aroma to the foods. Refined rice bran oil lacks color and aroma. It is rich in protein. It has low levels of fat content. It has longer shelf life, so it can be kept for longer time duration and used for cooking. It is rich in good fats which are beneficial for our well being. It has been certified world health organization as the best-suited oil for frying and deep frying foods. It reduces cholesterol in our body and helps to protect our heart. It helps to maintain a healthy body weight.
It is rich in Vitamin E and natural antioxidants. Apart from increasing the immunity, it helps to protect our skin.
- Palm oil is less expensive when compared to all other oil types discussed here. This makes it one of the popular option for low-income group people.
- Though there is a widespread opinion about palm oil that it is not good for our health, it contains carotenoids which prevents cancer.
- Vitamin E and antioxidants present in palm oil increases our body’s immune power.
- Foods cooked with palm oil has good coloring and smell.
- Palm oil is rich in bad fat. So it can lead to weight gain. So it is better to consume it in lesser quantities. Otherwise, it can be used in combination with sunflower oil.
- Any oil becomes harmful for our health when it is used for multiple times.
- Refined oils are widely used in many households. It lacks many nutrients. One of the main reason for it is its manufacturing process. The purification process of refined oils removes all the coloring, nutrients, and fat contents in it which are essential for our good health.
- Also, refining process involves heating the oil, this will increase the levels of harmful chemicals present in it. So it is better to avoid using refined oils completely.
- Usage of refined oil prevents the accumulation of good fat in our body. This will potentially lead to many diseases. In particular, it can lead to high blood pressure, heart diseases, obesity, and cancer.
Vegetable oil can potentially turn into fat after it reaches the liver. It is believed that saturated fats are bad for our health. Any oil that solidifies at low temperature is believed to contain high-fat content. Ghee, butter, coconut oil gets converted into harmful low-density lipoproteins protein, LDL fat, in the liver, this gets mixed with blood and gets deposited in arteries, this can lead to heart diseases.
Fish Liver Oil
There are research studies that are being conducted on oils that are extracted from animals. For now, fish liver oil is the only available oil that is extracted from an animal.
Fish liver oil is rich in omega 3 fatty acids. We cannot use this oil for cooking. So, it is mainly consumed in capsule form. It cures low blood pressure. It reduces body weight. But, some people are allergic to fish liver oil. So use it with a little caution.
Cooking Oil needs to be changed
We should avoid using the same type of oil regularly. We should develop the practice of changing the oil type once a month. Using the same oil kind on a long term will make the good fat contents in it to get settled with bad fat, and this gets settled in our body. So, it is the best practice to change oil type once a month. Doing so will ensure we reap only the good benefits out of oils. Also, we can effectively prevent the bad effects of oil.
How long Can we Preserve the Oil
Always make a note of the expiry dates on the packaging. If you are purchasing unbranded cooking oil, do not store it for more than 3 months time. Some people might develop allergies on food cooked with preserved oils. But it is not uncommon. Additionally, expiry dates on oils will vary with its quality and type. Once the oil starts to solidify it is generally considered as unfit for cooking or consumption. But coconut oil and ghee naturally solidifies at temperatures as low as 10-degree Celsius.
Manually Pressed Oils
We can effectively prevent chemicals by using manually pressed oils. These oils will have slight brown coloration to them, but it is nothing to feel afraid of. At the same time refined oils are colorless and appear pure, this doesn’t mean they are good for your health. You need to take extra care while purchasing oil for cooking. Olive oils are not suited for deep frying and cooking for people living in Indian Subcontinent as they are more expensive. But it is best suited for skin protection and preparation of certain snacks. But this doesn’t mean olive oil is the best option. Sesame oil, coconut oil, groundnut oil are all well suited for cooking and healthy as well.
How to Purchase Manually Pressed Oils?
Manually pressed oils are manufactured based on traditional and most unharmful method. These oils do not get heated in the manufacturing process. This will prevent the loss of nutrients in it. Manually pressed oils do not appear transparent and pure. But it will be rich in aroma and foods cooked with it tastes much better. These oils can be preserved for up to 1 year. It will not be very sticky as well.
Benefits of Manually Pressed Oils
- It is more hygienic and improves our body’s immunity.
- Manually pressed oils are rich in Vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium, copper and calcium.
- Minerals present in this oil will provide more strength to joints in legs and hands. Additionally, it strengthens the bones.
- It is rich in good fat content. It increases immunity. Apart from cleansing the colon and intestines, it retards the aging process. It cures piles and problems related to periods.
Who needs to avoid using oil?
- Anyone can include oil to their foods. Oil plays a major role by supplying the needed fat content to our body. We can reduce the level of oil intake but we should not completely brush aside oil use.
- Heart patients can use oils like sesame oil, flaxseed oil, sunflower oil, refined oil, and rice bran oil. Also, they need to prevent or minimize the usage of ghee, vegetable oil, and palm oil.
- We can reduce or minimize the usage of coconut oil. We can use around 4 to 5 teaspoons of coconut oil a day.