Oil is what makes food tasty, yes the yummy puris and the hot tasty samosas you gorge on. But the bad news is no matter how good they seem to be for the taste buds, they are bad for your heart.
You are sure to be reluctant to give up these entirely but are likely feel less guilty if you know that the oil you use for cooking is healthy oil.
Now, the question comes to which oil is the best? There are so many opinions that we decided to look into studies and come up with an answer to the question.
What are the parameters?
The content of saturated, unsaturated fats and omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids is the parameter to judge oils.
Saturated fats: As you might have already heard these are bad for you. Saturated fats are known to raise the level of cholesterol in your blood, clog your arteries and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Saturated fats are mostly present in animal products like dairy and meat products.
Oils that contain fewer amounts of saturated fats are healthy oils.
Unsaturated fats: These are good for you and your heart. Here, there is at least one bond that is not saturated with hydrogen. These are essential for many functions of the body and help reduce the bad fats.
Oils that contain more of unsaturated fats than the saturated ones are healthy.
- MUFA or Monounsaturated fatty acids have a beneficial effect on your health when eaten in moderation and when used to replace saturated fats or trans fats. Monounsaturated fats can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Monounsaturated fats are also typically high in vitamin E, an antioxidant vitamin most diets lack.
- PUFA or Poly unsaturated fatty acids also reduce bad cholesterol in the blood and provide you with Omega 3 and Omega 6 nutrients which are good for health. Both these nutrients have to be taken in a proportion only then do they perform their function properly.
Since both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils are good for the health, these should be present in oils. The ratio recommended by WHO of Omega 3 to Omega 6 is 5-10 while the ratio of saturated fats to unsaturated fats is 0.8- 1.
Here is how your cooking oils fare:
Olive oil, the dieter’s darling: Extremely high in mono unsaturated fatty acids and low on saturated fats it is hailed as the best oil to eat, but should only be used as a dressing on salads and cannot be used for cooking.
Groundnut Oil, the householder’s delight: It is low in saturated fats and high in unsaturated fats with a good percentage of monounsaturated and omega 3 fatty acids, it also does not transfer flavor to food on cooking and has a good smoking point, that is it can be cooked till high temperatures.
Mustard oil, desi favorite: It has a unique flavor and smell, is high in mono unsaturated fats and low in saturated fats, so it stands well in WHO standards.
Sunflower Oil, Sunny side up: It is rich in Poly saturated oils, but very poor in Omega 3 to omega 6 ratio. Now new versions are being developed which are good in mono saturated fats too.
Coconut oil, goodness disguised: Upfront, coconut oil might not seem like a good oil to eat but according to CSE, 2/3 rd of the saturated fats in it is medium triglycerides which are healthy. It also does not stay in the body for long so is good for weight loss. It also contains anti microbial components like Lauric acid and Capric acid that build the body’s immune system. Even so, it is not recommended to only use coconut oil for a long time.
Safflower oil, Popularized by Saffola: It has very less content of saturated oils which is good but has a poor ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids. The other essential nutrients present in safflower oil are omega-6 fatty acids, cis-linoleic acid, vitamin E, etc.
Vanaspati Ghee, the poor man’s ghee: In India, the consumption of Vanaspati is increasing and it is now used as a cooking medium in many households. During the production of Vanaspati ghee, vegetable oil is hydrogenated during which Trans fats are produced. Research shows trans fats to be even more harmful than saturated fats which reduces the good fats and increases bad fat while increasing the risk of cardio vascular disease by 25%.
Desi ghee, Mother’s tastemaker: It is the one important ingredient that is added to all sweets and delicacies and what makes food tasty. It has considerable less saturated fat than butter and contains less trans fat than Vanaspati ghee. It is a better option than both of them but should be used sparsely as after all it has fats.