When it comes to choosing cooking oil for your kitchen, “feeling confused” is a ‘universal emotion’. While you can cook with most of the oils, not oils are created equal. Some perform well at high temperatures, making them ideal for frying and sautéing. Whereas, a few are super flavorful and are perfect for salad dressing. Moreover, there are some that can turn rancid when heated. So the big question is how to differentiate between them all?
Walking through an oil aisle in the supermarket can sometimes feel like wild goose chase. With so many varieties, brands, and types available in the market, it can be overwhelming to pick the best. Different oils serve different purposes and this where the confusion arises. When you are heating oil at a high temperature (at or close to 180*C), the molecular structures of the oil change. When heated, the oil undergoes through a process called oxidation. The oil reacts with oxygen in the air to form aldehydes and lipid peroxides. Research has linked the consumption of aldehydes (even in small amounts) to increased risk of heart disease and cancer. So all oils are not good for cooking, especially vegetable oil.
Oil is one category where food marketing is so strong. Usually unhealthy oils are sold under the attractive yet misguiding tags of heart-healthy or digestion-friendly. Instead of sticking to only one oil, it is better to go for oil cycling. Every oil has a specific benefit and purpose. So by rotating the oils, you can get the benefit of all the oils. Also, every oil is supposed to be used in a different way. Some are good for deep-frying while some are perfect for a sautéing. Figuring that out, however, is the real challenge! Fret not, we are going to simplify this oil-puzzle for you. Let’s dive a little deeper into a few popular varieties, their benefits and how to use them:
Let’s dive deeper into
- Mustard Oil
Produced from the seeds of the mustard seeds, Mustard oil is the most common oil used in Indian households as well as cuisine.
Smoke Point: 249 degree Celsius
Good Facts: Presence of omega -3, high in monounsaturated fatty acids, and the presence of allyl isothiocyanate.
Benefits: Promotion of strength of bones, warming effect on the body, maintenance of health. Research has also revealed that the use of mustard oil also prevents colon cancer. It is also believed that it has anti-inflammatory properties, which may also help ease joint stiffness as it contains B-complex vitamins such as niacin and riboflavin. These may help increase the body’s metabolism. The oil also contains diacylglycerol that may contribute to weight loss.
Ways to use: In cooking
Ideal for sautéing, frying and cooking sabjis such as bhindi, karela, pumpkin and anything that goes with a pungent taste. In case, you don’t like the pungent taste of the oil, you can add a little salt and lemon before cooking the vegetables.
- Peanut Oil
Also referred to as groundnut oil or arachis oil, peanut oil is a vegetable-derived oil made from the edible seeds of the peanut plant.
Smoke Point: 225 degree Celsius
Good Facts: The fatty acid breakdown of peanut oil is 20% saturated fat, 50% monounsaturated fat (MUFA) and 30% polyunsaturated fat (PUFA). The main type of monounsaturated fat found in peanut oil is called oleic acid, or omega-9. It also contains high amounts of linoleic acid, a type of omega-6 fatty acid, and smaller amounts of palmitic acid, a saturated fat. Moreover, peanut oil is a good source of vitamin E, an antioxidant.
Benefits: Reduce LDL cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, and blood sugar levels. Also helps in better secretion of insulin.
Ways to use: Sauteeing, cooking, grilling and frying.
Ideal for any sabji preparation as it has got neutral flavour.
It is a form of highly clarified butter that is traditionally used in Indian cuisine. It is typically made from cow’s milk. It’s a myth that ghee has more calories than oil. The truth is that both have equal calories. Above all, different fatty acids have a role to play and purpose in our nutritional spectrum.
Smoke Point: 250-degree Celcius
Good Facts: Packed with CLA, a fatty acid known to be protective against carcinogens, artery plaque, and diabetes. It also has a high smoke point.
Benefits: Rich in fat-soluble vitamins A, E and K, and antioxidants, aids in digestion, strengthens bones, and decrease the risk of CVDs. It is also a rich source of butyric acid, which helps the bacteria of the gut.
Ways to use: Sauteeing, frying and cooking
Ideal for Dal tadka, roti, and parathas
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin oil is processed the least, which means it is an unrefined oil. Because of the way it is procured, it has a lower level of oleic acid than other olive oil varieties. Plus, it contains more of the natural vitamins and minerals found in olives.
Smoke Point: 180-degree Celsius
Good Facts: Antioxidants rich, high in monounsaturated fats and contains a modest amount of vitamins E and K.
Benefits: Protects heart health, improves blood vessels health lowers blood pressure, slows aging and helps in reducing inflammation
Ways to use: Use in salad dressing, drizzle over salads, or mix in dips.
Ideal for salads. But do not use the refined version of olive oil, which is ripped off all the benefits
- Coconut Oil
It is made by pressing fresh coconut meat or dried coconut meat called copra. While refined coconut oil typically uses copra, Virgin coconut oil uses fresh meat
Smoke Point: 177 Celsius
Reason: Medium-chain fatty acids — Caprylic acid, lauric acid, and capric acid — are present. Around 62 percent of the oil in coconut is made up of these three healthy fatty acids, and 91 percent of the fat is healthy saturated fat.
Benefits: It is proven to be Alzheimer’s disease natural treatment protects the liver from damage, boosts immune system, improves energy and endurance, aids in digestion and offers anti-aging benefits.
Ways to use: Oil pulling, cooking, and frying. You can also add it into your coffee.
Ideal for preparing South Indian dishes.
Ditch the Vegetable Oils
Highly processed and refined. So it doesn’t offer any nutritional benefits. It is also high in omega 6 fatty acids, which can increase inflammation as well as the risk of chronic disease. On cooking, they are easily oxidized.
Oils To Avoid During Frying And Cooking
- Rice bran
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