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Choosing the Right Cooking Oil for a Healthy Kitchen

Cooking oil is the most important ingredient of any kitchen pantry, but choosing the right oil is very important for making a nutritious and tasty meal. With a variety of choices in the market, picking the correct oil for your family becomes quite a challenging task. In this blog, we will tell you about Choosing the Right Cooking Oil for a Healthy Kitchen.

For that, firstly It is important to understand the factors that are important to keep in mind while picking the right oil or fat for your cooking needs.

Important factors for choosing the right cooking oil:

  1. STABILITY OF COOKING OIL- Oil that stays stable even under high temperature, depends on how quickly they react to oxygen to form free radicals which depend on the saturation of the fatty acids in it

a) Saturated Fatty Acids (SFAS)– has a highly stable structure so can be exposed to high heat, making it ideal for cooking at high temperature like deep frying , grilling. eg:- palm , coconut , butter, ghee/

b) Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFAS)– not so densely packed like olive oil , ,sesame oil , avocado oil and all nuts oils

c) Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAS)– are very unstable as it produces free radicals when heated.eg :- canola, corn, cottonseed, grapeseed, rice bran, safflower, soy Polyunsaturated fats are refined to produce fats with high smoke point. Contains both omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids.

  1. SMOKING POINT OF COOKING OILS

Smoking point of an oil is the temperature at which the oil starts creating smoke. When a oil starts to smoke it losing its nutrients and gives out toxic fumes and creates free radicals causing many chronic diseases.

  1. HOW THE OIL IS PRODUCED

a) Refined – Made by mechanical and chemical processes .Has neutral flavor, longer shelf life and high smoke point. Many refined oil go through a artificial process called hydrogenation in which hydrogen is added to omega 6 to prevent it from turning rancid, for longer shelf life and making it solid like butter and much more cheaper. eg :-  margarine and shortening

b) Unrefined – Oils extracted by simply crushing and pressing mechanically .This process preserves their high flavor and nutrients like extra virgin olive oil.

  1. QUALITY OF RAW MATERIAL: Quality of the nuts, seeds, fruits is very important in determining the quality of its oil.

  2. TYPE OF COOKING: Stir frying, pan frying, deep frying, and baking.

  3. FLAVOUR OF COOKING OIL: It is very important to keep in mind the flavor that the cooking oil will add to your dish.

Keeping these factors in mind we should understand the pros and cons of various oils used commonly in an Indian kitchen.

Choosing the Right Cooking Oil

Olive Oil: This Mediterranean superstar is a staple in many Indian kitchens.

Pros:  Rich source of healthy dietary fats. High percentage of monounsaturated MUFA (oleic acid) polyunsaturated PUFA (omega 3 and omega 6).

Loaded with powerful Antioxidants that play a important role in fighting off free radicals and fighting chronic inflammation.

Flavor blends in well with most Indian recipes.

High smoking point of 200-220 degrees depending on the quality

Cons: Can be expensive, especially virgin and extra virgin varieties

Good for:  Quick sautéing, dressings, dips, marinades.

Check Price on Amazon or Flipkart.

Canola Oil: Made from a naturally modified breed of rapeseed, canola oil is commonly used for cooking.

Pros: Low in saturated fat. Contains beneficial monounsaturated fats and omega-3s. Subtle taste.

Cons: Has a low smoke point 204 degrees.

 Not a rich source of nutrients except vitamin e and k.

Good for: Sautéing, low and moderate-temperature cooking/baking.

Vegetable Oil: Vegetable oil, is typically made from a blend of several oils, including palm, soybean, sunflower and corn.

Pros: Inexpensive, long shelf-life. Contains essential fatty acids. High smoke point 232 Degrees.

Cons: Mostly heavily processed and made up of GMO sources. Some vegetable oils may be partially hydrogenated.

Good for: Greasing pans.

Coconut Oil: This flavorful tropical oil is considered healthy by some, but has spurred deal of controversy due to its saturated fat content.

Pros: Higher smoke point 232 degrees. Rich in antioxidants

Cons: Overpowers the flavor of certain dishes.

Good for: Moderate-temperature cooking, frying, baking.

Ghee: Ghee is just clarified butter, a butter which has all the milk solids removed .A type of clarified butter that’s commonly used in South Asian and Middle Eastern cooking. Ghee provides a delicious, nutty flavor to your cooking

Pros: It also has a higher smoke point than standard butter and some other oils, making it a good choice for cooking at high heat. The ghee smoke point temperature is 250 degrees. Ghee contains good amount of healthy fats, vitamin E, D and A. A rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good fats and are essential for improving the brain and heart health.

Cons: Since ghee is entirely made up of fat, too much of it can lead to weight gain and cardiovascular      conditions such as hypertension and heart attacks.
Ghee is good for one’s health but should be consumed in moderation

GOOD FOR: – Ghee is wonderful to use for sautéing vegetable, or enjoyed on top of chapattis or used for deep frying

Mustard Oil: Mustard oil is used a lot in eastern Indian cuisine. It is highly recommended for its high MUFA content Good for heart, skin and hair.

Pros: Rich in Mufa, Pufa and omega 3 and 6, vitamin E minerals and antioxidants. High smoking point of 249 degrees.

Cons: Intake of copious amounts of mustard oil can cause respiratory issues, diarrhea and anemia strong taste

GOOD FOR: – frying, flavouring and in preserves such as chutneys and pickles

Conclusion: All cooking oils are composed of fats and are rich in calories (1 tablespoon is 120 calories approximately). Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats and is loaded with antioxidants whereas vegetable oils are full of saturated fats. A healthy Kitchen will usually have a good mix of oils including olive oil, mustard oil and ghee to provide a balanced fat and flavor profile.

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