What is it that makes a cooking oil healthy and whats in it that effects heart health? Cooking oil has fat that has various health functions that makes it so important in our diets. Read along to understand different how different types of oil are healthy or healthy depending on their fat content. Cooking oils are healthy but need to be used in moderation for better health.
We have always read that fat is not healthy for the body and often causes weight gain, heart diseases and increases cholesterol. Our body requires essential fatty acids for absorption of vitamins, better hormonal function, regulating blood sugar levels, storage of energy, controlling inflammation and brain development. Most importantly it adds flavor to the food. Fats are generally categorized as saturated fat and unsaturated fat. Saturated fat is difficult to break and is difficult to digest. It has high boiling point and freezing point. These fats are usually solid at room temperature and have a longer shelf life. Where as the other fat is unsaturated fat which is further divided into two categories of poly saturated fat and mono saturated fat. These fats are liquid at room temperature and have low boiling and freezing point with a shorter shelf life.
Unsaturated fat is unhealthy for the body and increases cholesterol while the polysaturated fats which contain the essential fatty acids improve cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol in the body. When unsaturated fat is hydrogenated it is called trans fat which increases the shelf life of products. The chips and commercial fried foods contain hydrogenated fats. Trans fats are not so healthy as they increase cholesterol, triglyceride and LDL which have severe effects on th health.
Cooking oils are either derived from animal sources or plant sources. We have heard that certain oils are more beneficial and improve health when used for cooking whereas some oils are unhealthy. Deep fried foods are cooked in oils which have more saturated fat as it has high boiling temperature which does not let the oil burn and bear its characteristics. Watch this video for more information.
Sometimes fats lose their characteristic upon boiling and don’t remain healthy and develops qualities that may result in bad health.
There are different oils present in the market like ghee, sunflower oil, safflower oil, peanut oil, olive oil, mustard oil, coconut oil, flax seed oil, sesame oil, rice oil etc of which some contain more of saturated fat and are not so healthy while some contain more of unsaturated oil which are healthy. You can consume about 30% of your daily calories requirement from fat through cooking oil. Here is a list of some of the healthier cooking oils available in the market.
Below are some healthy cooking oil with their characteristics
Mustard Oil: The oil is derived from pressing the mustard seeds. It contains very less of saturated fat and more of unsaturated fat. It contains omega 3 acid and omega 6 essential fatty acids about 12%. It is liquid at room temperature and is has its own characteristic smell and brown colour. In Indian cuisines it is used to cook stir fried veggies at low temperature as they add flavour to the food. The erucic acid present in it is controversial for its benefits. It is used for massaging at various places.
Olive Oil: It is called the healthiest of all cooking oils and is present in different variants like extra virgin oil etc. The variants have different properties and used differently. Olive oil is primarily unsaturated fat and just 12% of saturated fat and improves heart health and increases good cholesterol. It has a lot of vitamins E & K with essential fatty acids and antioxidants. Extra virgin quality is used for skin, shaving oil but not used for cooking usually as it loses its characteristic upon heating.
Peanut Oil: Peanut oil has a high smoke point and is often used for deep frying. The oil is healthy as it contains higher content of unsaturated fat and less of saturated fat making it healthy and in fact improves coronary benefits. It is high in energy and has a long shelf life. It brings a aroma and flavor to the food it is cooked with.
Sunflower Oil: It is one of the most common cooking oil used for cooking which we refer to as refine oil. It is high in unsaturated fat and is rich in essential fatty acids. It can be used in food for cooking on high temperature. It is often used in commercial products and for deep frying of foods like french fries and chicken etc. It contains vitamin E & K as other nutrients in it. The plain taste makes it available to be used in various dishes.Author Information — this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo