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 learn 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 to your health.
- Unhealthy oils, even at lower temperatures will form polyunsaturated fats and thus, look for oils which have less of it.
Here are some healthy alternatives to the commonly found vegetable oils which are high in polyunsaturated fats.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 acids which helps to improve cholesterol levels within the body and is also known to have antibacterial properties.
- 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.
The Indian market offers variety in oils - one can choose from sesame, rice bran, sunflower, safflower, canola, coconut and pure ghee. 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 monounsaturates (50%) polyunsaturates (30%) and saturated fatty acids(20%).
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