Cooking oil is the most basic ingredient in any household. Initially, we tend to pick a single oil and stick with it for years. This became the trend because there were not many options available before and the safest choice was to use the same oil that the elder women at home were using.
But, there is a plethora of cooking oils available today. When selecting cooking oil, you need to choose oils that are not only healthy but stay healthy even after being cooked with.
How stable is cooking oil?
Since we cook at a high heat, some oils tend to oxidize and form harmful components that are not good for your health. To avoid any long term health issues, you need to choose oils that are stable and don’t oxidize or become sour and stale tasting easily.
Vegetable oils are among the oils that you should avoid consuming. The most common include sunflower oil, peanut oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, etc. Unlike coconut or olive oils, these are extracted in the most unnatural ways.
The most important factor that helps us determine the best oils is the level of saturation of the fatty acids present in it. Saturated fats have only single bonds in their fatty acid molecules, monounsaturated have double bonds and polyunsaturated have more than two.
It is these bonds that determine how reactive and sensitive to heat the oil is. Saturated oils are pretty resistant to heat, while the other types of oils should be avoided for cooking.
Let’s take a look at the healthiest options in the market.
Coconut oil is the healthiest choice if you are looking for an oil to cook in high heat. Over 90% of its fatty acids is saturated, making it very much heat resistant. It remains semi-solid in room temperature and it has proven to last years without going rancid.
It has powerful health benefits such as improving cholesterol and killing bacteria and other pathogens. The fat present in coconut oil also helps boost your metabolism and makes you feel fuller than any other oil.
Virgin olive oil is already well known for its heart healthy benefits. Some studies also show that it can improve the basic biomarkers of health. Research also shows that olive oil keeps the ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol in check, while boosting the levels of the ‘good’ HDL cholesterol in your bloodstream.
Despite having double bonds, olive oil has still proven to be fairly resistant to heat. When purchasing, make sure you get the virgin olive oil instead of the pure olive oil. Virgin olive oil has more nutrients and antioxidants that the regular kind and it tastes much better.
This largely consists of saturated and monounsaturated fats, with a little bit of polyunsaturated fats, making it a good choice for cooking. Unrefined red palm oil is the best kind as it is rich in Vitamin E, Coenzyme Q10 and other nutrients.
Canola oil is derived from rapeseeds with the euric acid removed. The fatty acid breakdown in this oil is fairly good, with most of them being monounsaturated. It also contains Omega-6 and Omega-3 in a 2:1 ratio, which is just the perfect combination. However, canola oil has a very harsh processing method before it becomes usable.
The oil’s composition is similar to that of the olive oil. It has mostly monounsaturated with small amounts of saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids in the mix. It can be used the same way as olive oil. You can use it for cooking as well as cold, poured directly on served food.
The best way to obtain maximum health benefits
Scientists suggest that the best way to reap the most health benefits from these oils is to keep regularly changing the cooking oil. There is no single oil that can be considered the best to keep you healthy, because every oil has its own composition. Different oils contain different essential fatty acids and the amount in which they are present also automatically varies.
Changing the oils regularly ensures that you get a favourable combination of fatty acids, omega-3, omega-6 and other vitamins. We recommend that you use 3 different types of oils in rotation at home. For example, you can change two oils along with saturated fats like ghee or butter. Change your oils once every 3 months and remember that it’s never advisable to blend the cooking oils with each other.
Even the healthiest of oils contain a lot of calories, so use anything in moderation. Maybe 3 to 4 tablespoons per person per day would be ideal. Avoid deep frying any food and use cooking methods such as baking, grilling or stir-frying that take up very little oil.
Picture courtesy – Internet