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Which Cooking Oil Should You Be Using?

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Zubeda Tumbi 89% (213 ratings)
MSc.PhD Nutrition & Diete, Jr. Research Fellowship for PhD, M.Sc - Dietitics / Nutrition - Dept. of Post Graduate Studies
Dietitian/Nutritionist, Mumbai  •  30 years experience
Which Cooking Oil Should You Be Using?

While cooking, one ingredient you cannot be without is oil. This is an essential ingredient in all types of cooking and no matter how little you put, a significant amount will still get into your body. Thus, it is of prime importance that you choose your cooking oil carefully. There are options, which are healthier than others and it is advisable to lean more on these options compared to the normal ones available in the market.
Considerations before choosing healthy cooking oils

It is important to not get into the marketing hype of various brands, which claim to be healthy cooking oils. Basic ingredients, no matter how refined, will still dictate how healthy the oil is. Some facts to consider are:

  • You would want oils which are stable at high temperatures and don't oxidize easily. If oils oxidize easily, they form free radicals, which are harmful for your health.
  • Unhealthy oils, even at lower temperatures will form polyunsaturated fats and thus, look for oils which have less of it.

Healthy alternatives:
Here are some healthy alternatives to the commonly found vegetable oils which are high in polyunsaturated fats.

  1. Olive oil: One of the staples and heroes of the Mediterranean diet, olive oil has long been the favorite of healthy cooking champions. It is good for the heart as it lowers LDL and encourages the growth of good cholesterol or HDL. It is also very low in polyunsaturated fats. You should try to go for extra virgin olive oil, although other variations are still better than normal vegetable oils.
  2. Palm oil: Also low in polyunsaturated fats, palm oil is rich in vitamin E and many other nutrients which make it a very healthy alternative to the normal vegetable oils you would usually buy from the market.
  3. Coconut oil: This variety of oil tends to have the least amount of polyunsaturated fats and is being touted as the healthiest alternative to normal cooking oils. Coconut oil contains a lot of lauric acid which helps to improve cholesterol levels within the body and is also know to have antibacterial properties.
  4. Avocado oil: Another healthy alternative, it may be a little difficult to find in the shelves as it is still uncommon. Again, this oil is also very low in unsaturated fats and is thus, similar to olive oil. You can use this oil for cooking or serve it cold as garnishing for dishes as well.

Indian market offers variety in oils and one can choose from sesame, ricebran, sunflower, safflower, canola , coconut and pure ghee too. Changing or rotating oils is healthy as it gives the body different essential fatty acids which it needs; for example we need a healthy blend of mono -unsaturates (50%) polyunsaturates ((30%) and saturated fatty acids(20%). However, you should consult your physician as to, which oil will be best for you.

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