Indian cooking is rich, flavorful and has a huge variety of mouth-watering dishes. And one of the most crucial and vital ingredient of our Indian cooking is Cooking Oil. It goes without saying that Indian cooking differs in many ways (from the major parts of the world) and hence, the cooking oil used by us is also very different.
Choosing the right cooking oil
Since any oil is high in fat content, choosing the correct cooking oil becomes crucial.
It not only helps seal in the aroma and flavors, but locks in the nutrients as well. Not just this, it saves you from a great deal of health and heart diseases that come associated with using the wrong oils high in saturated and trans fatty content.
Indian cooking is of high density where any oil with a low smoke point* loses its nutritional value.
*The smoke point is the temperature at which any fat starts to smoke. A high smoke point is particularly important for deep frying which is a high temperature operation.
Let’s bust the myth here. Ghee, in controlled quantity, is healthy. It is not only the tastiest but is also known to help weight loss when accompanied with regular exercise and an active lifestyle. It is known to aid digestion, improve memory, build up bone strength and energy levels.
- Sunflower Oil:
Sunflower oil is probably the most commonly used oil for coking in India. It is a good option as it is a rich source of vitamin E and has the essential nutrients required to keep the body functioning healthily. It contains MUFA and PUFA that maintain healthy levels of good cholesterol. It also fights free radicals and reduces the risk of many cardiovascular diseases.
- Rice bran Oil:
Rice bran oil is a mild tasting oil that is known for its cholesterol-lowering properties. Rich in MUFA, it aids healthy heart health and eases joint movements. It has high oryzanol, which basically lower cholesterol level in the body.
- Peanut Oil:
Popular for its rich taste, peanut oil is not only tasty but also healthy. It is extremely rich in MUFA and PUFA and low in bad saturated fats. This helps in lowering the bad cholesterol in the body. It is also a good source of vitamin E, a good antioxidant. Hence, protecting the skin from acne or scars.
- Mustard Oil:
Another very popular and rich tasting oil, Mustard oil, is commonly used in many household as it helps digestion and circulation. It has anti-bacterial properties that protect skin. It is known to not only keep skin problems at bay, but also fight germs and virus to prevent common cold and cough.
- Sesame Oil:
The darker coloured sesame oil is usually preferred for Indian cooking. It is not only healthy but also good for diabetics. It is high in PUFA and contains vitamin B6, calcium and magnesium. It also keeps a check on atherosclerosis and keeps the heart healthy.
- Coconut Oil:
Coconut oil is very popular for cooking in South India. Though high in saturated fats, it has its own benefits when consumed in limited quantity. Primarily, it increases the good cholesterol or HDL in the body. It aids in blood circulation. With medium fatty acids, that are easily digestible, it is good for people with liver problems and it also helps in getting quick energy.
- Olive oil:
Olive oil benefits are well known. It has a good amount of antioxidants that reduces pain in the joints as well as lowers the risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. It is said to have properties that assist in battling heart illnesses, for example, heart assault and heart stroke. One thing to note, there are three types of olive oils to be taken into consideration
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Can be used for Stir-frying, Sauté-ing, Baking, etc.
- Pure Olive Oil – Can be used for most of the preparation methods. Deep frying to be avoided.
- Olive Pomace Oil– A more popular version, this can be used for all purpose cooking and deep frying.
- Flaxseed Oil:
Another new entrant is the Flaxseed oil. Flaxseeds have anyway caught up in the league of healthy diet foods. The same is for the oil extracted from them. Rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, this oil is extremely beneficial for heart health. Not just that, it also helps prevent colitis and keeps the gut healthy.
- Canola Oil:
With low saturated fat content, it is known to be a very healthy oil. It is also rich in Omega 3, vitamins E and K, and plant sterols and low in saturated fat. It is also cholesterol-free, which helps in protecting your heart health. Canola oil can also reduce blood pressure and inflammation.
Here’s hoping that this list of healthy oil option helps you in choosing the right oil. As it goes without saying, changing your oil every once in a while is a healthy practice too. If there are any question, please post them in the comments and I will be happy to help you with them.