Which Is The Best Cooking Oil For Health?

Why it is important to consider which cooking oil is the healthiest?

One of the most important things to keep in mind is – that oil behaves differently when heated, it changes texture, color, taste as well as it’s nutritional properties. When the oil reaches its smoking point, a lot of the nutrients are destroyed and it can sometimes potentially form harmful compounds. Also, different oils have varying amounts of fats – Polyunsaturated, Monounsaturated and Saturated fats.

Sunflower Oil

The oil extracted from the seeds of sunflowers is known as sunflower oil. It has a high quantity of vitamin E, which makes it excellent for being used in and cosmetic products. Sunflower oil is a mixture of monounsaturated (MUFA) and polyunsaturated (PUFA) fatty acids. It has a high smoking point, which means that sunflower oil holds onto its nutritional content at higher temperatures, which is probably why this oil is widely used in deep frying chips, samosas and vegetables.

People with diabetes may need to be careful about sunflower oil as it may lead to the possibility of increasing sugar levels.

Coconut Oil

This oil is full of saturated fat. Studies suggest that diets high in coconut oil do raise total blood cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Coconut oil also seems to raise HDL (good) cholesterol and it has the advantage that it behaves very well at high temperatures.

Groundnut Oil

Groundnut oil or peanut oil is got a good combination of fats, and has the good monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and is low in bad saturated fats. It’s a good all-purpose oil for cooking and I think it works particularly well for Asian foods that are prepared in the wok

Mustard Oil

Has a near ideal fat composition but not very good as it contains high amounts of erucic acid ranging from 35 to 48%. It is recommended that you don’t use mustard oil as the sole cooking medium. It has a high smoking point so it’s very good for deep frying.

Canola Oil

A recent entrant into the Indian market, Canola is flying off the shelves. Canola oil, which is made from the crushed seeds of the canola plant, is said to be amongst the healthiest of cooking oils. It has the lowest saturated fat content of any oil. It’s seen as a healthy alternative as its rich in monounsaturated fats and is high in Omega 3. It has a medium smoking point and is an oil that works well for fries, baking, sautéing etc. I use it liberally in Indian food, which it seems to embrace quite wel

Olive Oil

If you use Olive oil regularly, you are consuming monounsaturated fats that will help you lower your risk of heart disease and breast cancer, and that’s possibly because of its high monounsaturated fat content, which lowers cholesterol. I find olive oil brilliant for any Mediterranean dish, brilliant with pastas and risottos, and it’s my top pick for breakfasts, works like a dream with eggs, pancakes, you name it.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

This oil is a hot favorite, it’s derived from the first pressing of olives and if full of antioxidants as well as polyphenyls, that are both considered good for heart health. It’s a darker color and has less acidity than olive oil. I use it largely in salads, cold dishes and over pastas.

Rice Bran Oil

A fairly new kid on the block and a fast rising favourite amongst the manufacturers, rice bran oil is made from the outer layer (bran) of the grain of rice. Health experts claim that it’s the healthiest oil on the planet. While I cannot vouch for that, I do know that while trying it out on my food show series, called Guilt Free, the taste did not clash with Indian food and it worked pretty well in cookies and cakes.

Apparently, rice bran oil has a chemical called oryzanol which is good for your cholesterol. It is high in monounsaturated fats and has a fair amount of polyunsaturated fats too, both the good type of fats. Since it has a high smoking point, it works well for deep frying chips and all.

Avocado Oil

It has a mildly nutty, is very rich in monounsaturated fats and is a good way to get Vitamin E in our diets. It glides on very well in a dressing, in mayonnaise, vinaigrette and I find it adds tremendous panache to a simple grilled fish. The only downside is the price as well as availability in India. It’s one of those oils that can be kept as an add-on oil. Just remember to store it right, as it can spoil easily.

Sesame Oil

Sesame oil comes in two colors. The lighter one is used in India and the Middle East, and is pressed from untoasted seeds. It has a mild flavour and a high smoking point. The darker variety has a distinct nutty aroma and taste and works very well in Asian food as a marinade or in stir fries.

Both types of oils are high in polyunsaturated fat but they should never be heated for too long. Sesame oil also contains magnesium, copper, calcium, iron and vitamin B6.

Grapeseed Oil

Grapeseed oil is pressed from grape seeds left over from wine making. It is believed to have very little saturated fat, is filled with good fat, has a very mild taste. It is considered good for cooking and frying, but am afraid I have had little experience with it.