It's a matter of health

MANY OPTIONS Choose the right oil

MANY OPTIONS Choose the right oil  

When it comes to cooking oil, here are some healthful alternatives

The choice of cooking oil was once a matter of taste and local resources and little else Punjabis cooked with ghee and butter, Bengalis with mustard oil and Keralites with coconut oil. Now cooking oil is a matter of health because it is the chief source of dietary fat. Coconut oil, vanaspati, palm oil, butter, ghee and lard are rich in saturated fats and should not be used in daily cooking. Excluding these cooking mediums from the kitchen leaves one with the modern "healthful" edible oils sunflower, safflower, soybean, mustard, peanut, olive, rapeseed (canola), rice bran, cottonseed, gingelly and corn oils. Good edible oils are a mixture of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs), and each contains a unique proportion of them. Olive oil contains the highest proportion of monounsaturated fat, while safflower oil has the highest proportion of PUFAs. The smoke point of oil and the type of cooking involved also determine the healthfulness of oil.

Olive oil

Olive oil, with a smoke point of 190 degree centigrade, is great for tossing a salad and for cooking that does not involve prolonged frying. Safflower oil and sunflower oil have the lowest percentage of saturated fat and the highest percentage of PUFAS; they also have a high smoke point: this makes them suitable for deep frying in addition to routine cooking.

Relatively cheap

Soybean oil, canola oil and corn oil are second only to olive, safflower and sunflower oils in healthfulness. Peanut oil is relatively cheap and is highly suitable for frying and cooking. However, nearly 18 per cent of peanut oil is saturated fat. Still, if you cannot afford sunflower and safflower, peanut oil is a reasonably healthful alternative. Cottonseed oil contains nearly 24 per cent saturated fat and should not be your first choice. Rice bran oil contains nearly 20 per cent saturated fat. It is suitable for deep-frying because of its high smoke point. Mustard oil contains nearly 11 per cent saturated fat. Even "healthful" cooking oils are high in calories. These are eventually converted to saturated fat in the body when total calorie intake exceeds energy expenditure. Cooking oil is healthful only in the larger context of a healthful diet. RAJIV. M
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