From sauteeing vegetables to deep frying pakoras, oil has become an indispensable part of cooking. But have you ever researched the quality of the cooking oil you use?
Cold-pressed oil, refined oil, extra virgin oil - you must have seen all these words plastered on oil bottles. But do you know what they mean? Oil being a staple in your daily diet, it is important to be conscious of the quality and source of your cooking oil.
In this blog, we will clear some of the misconceptions you may have about oil and tips to pick the best cooking oil for daily use.
Read on to know more.
Polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) are fats that have two or more double bonds. Our body cannot produce these fats, so they must be taken through foods.
These fats are usually found in oily fish, plant-based oils, and nuts. Omega 3 and Omega 6 are the most common types of PUFA. These fats are important for brain function and cell growth. However, these are required in very small amounts and excess intake may increase inflammation.
PUFA are sensitive to oxidation because they are exposed to high temperatures while processing. If oxidized, free radicals get released which can cause serious health issues including cancer.
Moreover, these fats being unsaturated are highly unstable. Upon high intake, PUFAs slow down the metabolism which in turn leads to indigestion, toxin development, and many diseases. A study reveals that PUFA has anti-thyroid effects on an individual’s body. It is better to avoid PUFA and switch to saturated fats.
Each oil has a particular smoke point at which the oil begins to break down into free radicals. These free radicals are carcinogenic and pose several health risks. So, oils should not be heated beyond their smoking point.
Now, let’s see what happens when oil is reused.
Adding to that, using the same oil repeatedly increases the trans-fat present in it. Trans-fat is the worst fat of all fats. It increases bad cholesterol levels and increases the chance of cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, the same oil should not be used again.
The shelf life of oil differs depending upon the type of oil and method of production. Refined oils generally have a longer shelf life of up to one year. Cold-pressed oils are safe to use for about six months.
Always ensure that you check the date of manufacture and the duration until which the oil is safe to use at the time of purchase. It is also important to store the oil correctly to prevent them from going rancid. The best way to store oil is in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight.
For years, we’ve been told that saturated fats increase the risks of heart diseases. But certain research studies supported the usage of saturated fats. Yet, the debate is still on between its benefits and harsh effects on health.
Saturated fats have numerous benefits from building the immune system to elevating the good cholesterol levels in your body. Saturated fats are abundantly found in dairy products and oils including coconut oil, ghee, and peanut oil.
Saturated fats are stable fats that can resist high heat. Oils with saturated fats can be heated at higher temperatures. Earlier, before the production of refined oils, people used cold-pressed oils and ghee that are rich in saturated fats. Saturated fats are healthy and can be consumed daily.
Ghee has a high smoking point of 300-480 F. Hence, it can be used for high-heat cooking without any fear of free radicals. Pure ghee has numerous health benefits from aiding digestion to better skin. It also helps the thyroid gland to function properly.
Ghee reduces the bad cholesterol level and promotes good heart health. Ghee can be consumed daily in an adequate amount for better health.
The smoking point of coconut oil ranges from 350-to 450 F. Coconut oil has medium-chain fatty acids which reduce stress, improve metabolism and act as a quick source of energy.
It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and antifungal properties. Coconut moisturizes both the skin and the hair. If it is cold-pressed coconut oil, it can be used daily for high-heat cooking.
Peanut oil has monounsaturated fats which reduce the risk of heart disease. It aids weight loss and has anti-aging properties. It increases insulin sensitivity, hence people with diabetes also can consume it.
Peanut oil elevates the good cholesterol levels that are needed for the body. Moreover, it eliminates the free radicals from our bodies. Its smoking point ranges from 230-450 F and so it is suitable for medium heat cooking. Upon heating high, it might release free radicals.
Sesame seeds are celebrated as the 'Queen of oilseeds'. Oils extracted from these seeds are called sesame oil. Sesame oil improves the texture of the skin. It reduces oxidative stress and promotes sleep when applied externally over the head.
Sesame oil's smoking point is 400 F. It can be used for dressing purposes.
Extra virgin olive is the least processed and so it is considered to be the healthiest. Extra virgin olive oil is fully packed with antioxidants. Therefore it fights any inflammation and chronic disease.
Extra virgin olive oil lowers blood pressure. Its smoking point ranges from 320-465 F. It can be used for low- medium heat cooking. It loses its flavor when it is heated to higher temperatures.
Now that you know which oils to pick, you also need to know which oils can harm your body.
Refined oils increase inflammation and trans-fat in a body if used in the long term. These include:
These oils undergo heavy processing to increase their shelf life, hence consuming them would harm your body.
In the early days, oils were extracted using cold-pressing methods which preserved the nutrients of the oils. However, most commonly used seed oils cannot be extracted using the cold-pressing method.
Commercially extracted oils are produced using machinery to ensure efficiency. This allows mass production of oils on a large scale. The general public, unaware of the risks posed by this process, consumes these refined oils daily. This can be detrimental.
First, oils are extracted from the seed using the solvent extraction method. This method is utilized to yield the maximum oil out of the seeds. Hexane is used as the most common solvent for this process which is a part of the petroleum family.
Now the oil is ready for desolventizing. In this step, the oil extracted using hexane is exposed to heat & steam to remove the hexane. At this point, the oil is still unsafe even after removing the hexane from it.
Now, it’s where the whole refining process starts. The process of refining has nothing to do with the meaning of the word refine. Refining oils here means removing the essential nutrients through various processes. Desolventized oil undergoes the following process before it is packed into bottles.
As a result, flavorless, tasteless, odorless oil is canned across the globe. The ill effects of these oils on your health are numerous.
Here is what makes refined oil an unwise choice for daily use:
Hexane is a toxic substance and any residues pose serious health risks.
Refined oils are prone to oxidation and release of free radicals. These can cause tissue damage.
Free radicals are pro-inflammatory. This can aggravate autoimmune conditions such as thyroid disease.
Regular consumption of refined oils can cause elevated blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.
Your cooking oil has a huge impact on your daily health. Making the right choice is very important. Refined oils are highly processed with chemical compounds. Oils that are traditionally prepared using cold pressing methods heal the body and prevent various diseases.