Here are various oils available for cooking and which one we should use?

Fats and oils are an indispensable part of Indian cooking, irrespective of which region you belong to. And fats and oils are an essential food item as they not only provide us the essential fatty acids, but also perform a host of other crucial body functions.

Fats, in particular saturated fats and cholesterol were demonized when, back in the 1970s, the American Heart Association recommended that their intake be reduced. Our very own, loyal ‘desi ghee’ was made out to be a villain, and superstores were flooded with varieties of refined oils. When Mediterranean diets became popular, olive oil was crowned as the ‘healthiest oil’ on the block. Olive oil and avocado oil contain a large amount of mono unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), are healthy but they are a local food for people in the Mediterranean region, not for us Indians.

By the way, in 2015, the USFDA said that there is no link between cholesterol and heart disease. Also cholesterol is produced by the liver, more so under stressful conditions. So here We are throwing some insight on healthy fats, at the same time we will try to debunk some myths and fears:

Desi Ghee:

Also known as Clarified butter in fashionable circles. It is now being recognized as a super-fat, though it always was. It contains short chain fatty acids (SCFA) which are preferentially burnt in the body, hence promote fat-burning. Ghee reduces the glycemic index of meals, thus reduces insulin resistance and the incidence of PCOD, diabetes and obesity. It has a high smoking point, doesn’t oxidize easily, so it is anti-ageing. It’s rich in fat-soluble vitamins A, D and E, and also promotes their absorption. Rich in anti-oxidants, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and fat-soluble vitamins, ghee is heart-friendly. Ghee provides lubrication to all the joints and stability to the spine. It promotes healthy gut eco-flora so improves digestion.

Ghee has a high smoking point. Want to deep fry your favourite delicacies? Chuck the refined oil, fry fearlessly in desi ghee, it allows slow and steady release of energy and prevents sugar spikes and lows.

Coconut oil:

If you are anywhere close to the coastline, coconut oil is the ideal choice for you. It contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) which are also used preferentially as a fuel. It promotes thyroid function and an overall sense of well-being. Coconut oil reduces the glycemic index of meals too, hence safe for diabetics. The MCTs are essential for normal nerve function. Coconut oil is anti-infective, and supports lustrous locks too.

Mustard oil:

Mustard oil is primarily composed of MUFA, almost 60 %. It helps to lower LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and improve good cholesterol (HDL). It has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal properties. It aids in digestion and circulation. It has a high smoking point, so it is suitable for frying.

Ricebran oil:

Ricebran oil too has good amount of MUFA. The ratio of PUFA to MUFA is near ideal. It contains a potent antioxidant oryzanol which is believed to have a cholesterol lowering effect.

Groundnut oil:

Groundnut oil is composed of nearly 48 percent MUFA. It’s a good source of antioxidant Vitamin E and phytosterols such as resveratrol, which is known to prevent degenerative nerve diseases.

Flaxseed oil:

Flaxseed oil has gained popularity due to its high concentration of omega-3 fatty acid ALA (alpha linolenic acid). It also has anti-inflammatory and anti-ageing properties.

Sesame oil:

Sesame oil has nearly equal amount of PUFA and MUFA, but it’s not prone to rancidity due to high amount of antioxidant sesamol. Its high smoking point makes it suitable for frying.

Depending on which region you belong to, you must wisely choose a combination of healthy fats to derive maximum health benefits.

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