The first and the most inevitable ingredient of any dish is the oil that you cook it in. It is used in almost all your daily meals, even in salads. But do you pay fine attention to find out which one will make you unhealthy and which one is best for you? If not, it is time to start right away. Hereâ€™s a guide to pick the right cooking oil.
Oils contain three types of fatty acids â€” saturated (SFA), polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA). Saturated fats remain solid at room temperature and can therefore tolerate high temperatures. Poly- and mono- saturated fats on the other hand, are liquid at room temperature and oxidise easily. Every oil has a smoke point i.e. the temperature at which it starts to burn, producing harmful chemicals. Depending on the type of cooking one has to do, they should select an oil with a low or high smoke point. Another important thing is the omega-6 and omega-3 ratio in your oil as some omega-6 fatty acids promote inflammation while omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation. According to researchers, the ideal ratio should be between 2:1 to 4:1. As per the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) an ideal oil is one which has SFA:MUFA:PUFA ratio of 27-33%:33-40%:27-33%.
How to choose your oil?
Says dietician and nutritionist Neha Chandna,â€˜While choosing a cooking oil, make sure you check the label behind to ensure that the oil has low saturated fats (less than 2g for every 10g), zero trans fats and higher amount of MUFA and PUFA â€” but PUFA should be lesser than MUFA. This is because MUFA and PUFA increase good cholesterol and reduce bad cholesterol whereas saturated and trans fats increase bad cholesterol thereby increasing chances of heart attacks.â€™ Monosaturated fats increase the HDL and decrease LDL and thus reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Oils that contain high amount of polysaturated fats are unstable and should be avoided.
If you plan to stir fry, sear, deep fry or do high-heat baking, then choose a cooking oil which can withstand it, an oil with a high smoke point. An oil with a low smoke point can be used for steaming, stewing and as a salad dressing.
Whatâ€™s good for cooking Indian cuisine?
According to Neha, since Indian food is generally cooked at high tempreture hence the oil should have a high smoke point so that it does not breakdown easily and give bad odour. â€˜Oils with higher smoke point are sunflower, safflower, soybean, rice bran, peanut, sesame, mustard and canola oil. Olive oil has a medium smoke point hence cannot be used to very high temperature cooking. It is best for sautÃ©ing and salads,â€™ adds Neha.
She suggests using a blend of oils to get all the essential fatty acids. Rice bran + olive oil or rice bran + sunflower/safflower oil are a few combinations. You can choose any brand which has ready blends or use two oils separately or rotate the oils every two months.
Myths about cooking oil
Neha busts is that one should choose a vegetable oil low on cholesterol. The fact is vegetable oils are made from plants which do not contain cholesterol. Hence marketing vegetable oil as low cholesterol is a mere gimmick.
Know your cooking oils
Vegetable oil â€“ It is the most commonly used cooking oil and is good for frying. It is a mix of different types of oils like sunflower, soybean, etc.
Sunflower oil â€“ This oil is low in saturated fat and has an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 39.4:1. It is also a good source of vitamin E.
Rice bran oil â€“ It has a high smoke point. It contains a component called gamma oryzanol which has cholesterol lowering properties by decreasing cholesterol absorption and increasing cholesterol elimination.
Olive oil â€“ It has different varieties like extra virgin, virgin, refined, etc. Extra virgin is very healthy as its 70% fats are MUFA but it has a low smoke point and a strong flavour.
Two very important compounds that promote heart health â€“ Omega 3 and oryzanol â€“ are present in Saffola Active Oil. Made with rice bran and soyabean oil, it also contains vitamin E. Both these oils are good for cooking and lower cardiovascular risk factors along with other several health benefits.