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A healthy lifestyle doesn't just mean eating right; it also means eating food prepared using the right cooking oil. Generally, people buy cooking oil that is advertised as healthy or the one which is being bought regularly for years. However, there is much more to choosing a good cooking oil than just that.
Basic things to remember when choosing an oil
1. Fat composition
-there are 3 types of fats: unsaturated fatty acids saturated and trans fats. Unsaturated are the best followed by saturated, worst being the trans fats.
-unsaturated fats are further classified into monounsaturated fatty acids (mufa) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (pufa)
-studies have shown that when used in place of saturated fats, pufa can help to improve cholesterol levels thereby reducing the risk for heart disease.
-as a rule of thumb, you should choose pufa and mufa containing oils like olive, rice bran, mustard and canola oil, over saturated fats, like butter and vanaspati ghee, to minimize your risk for heart disease.
-trans fats are a strict no-no and are best avoided.
2. Minor health components
-apart from the major components, some oils contain certain components which provide various nutritional benefits even in low levels.
-various such components include tocopherols, oryzanol, phytosterols. All these components have been shown to lower cholesterol levels in the body. They thus help in lowering the risk of heart diseases.
3. Smoke point
-smoking point is the tolerance of oil towards heat. When heated beyond a certain temperature, oil undergoes oxidation thereby forming free radicals which are harmful to your health.
-studies suggest that highly oxidized and heated fats may have carcinogenic effects due to toxic byproducts formed due to frying.
-canola oil, mustard oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil are the ones with a high smoke point and can be used for cooking at high temperature.
Which oils to use?
The oil has around 70% mufa and 22% pufa of which 10% is omega 3 fatty acid, and 12% is omega 6 fatty acid. It was once considered unhealthy, but studies prove that it is one of the healthiest cooking oils due to its high mufa and pufa content. It is low in saturated fatty acids and has an almost ideal omega 6: omega 3 ratio of 6: 5 (olive oil has around 20: 1). It is also rich in vitamin e and antioxidants. Another fact that goes in its favour is that it is cold pressed.
Rice bran oil
Rice bran oil has a very high smoke point and has a mild flavour. It is one of the most balanced oils with 47% mufa, 33% pufa, and 20% saturated fats. It also contains vitamin e, oryzanol and phytosterols. The only drawback of this oil is that it has less omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acid levels.
It is one of the most commonly used oils for cooking. It is a rich source of pufa. The unsaturated fatty acids include 10% alphaleinolenic acid, 50% linoleic acid and 23% oleic acid-all of which is good fat. It contains around 14% saturated fat. It has high smoke point and is commonly used in our homes.
It's a native of Canada and is low acidic in nature. It has a high smoke point and over 60% mufa. It has a neutral taste.
Extra virgin olive oil
It's better known for imparting benefits for the heart. It raises the good cholesterol and lowers the bad cholesterol. 75% fats in it are mufa. It has got the fruity aroma. The only limitation of this oil is that it does not have an ideal omega 6: omega 3 ratios (20: 1).
It is basically refined vegetable oil which is made more stable by increasing its shelf life and decreasing its chances to turn rancid. It is not suitable for deep frying due to its low smoke point. It is considered to be the unhealthiest of al oils since it lacks any vitamins, bioactive compounds and is loaded with trans fats. Consuming this oil is directly linked to high cholesterol and risk of heart diseases.
You should make it a habit of using oils like rice brand oil, canola oil, olive oil and mustard oil in rotation to get the maximum health benefits out of these oils. So go ahead and choose these simple tips to choose your cooking oil for a healthier you.