Know your cooking oils
Physician Geeta Sundar gives tips on which oils are good for
your health and how we should consume them
The best oil is unsaturated, has high Omega-3 content, is naturally extracted in a cold press, and doesn’t contain chemical additives or adulterants. Soya, ricebran, mustard, til (sesame), rapeseed (canola) and olive oil are considered the best. Sunflower and safflower come a close second.
Refined oil Refining involves removal of free fatty acids, bleaching and removal of objectionable odours. However, this destroys natural Beta-carotene and Vitamin E (which protects oil from becoming rancid) and leaves toxic cancer-causing residues. But refined oils have longer shelf lifes.
Storage Oil should be stored in steel, glass or earthenware containers and never in plastic or tin, and in a dark place, away from direct light or heat to prevent it from disintegrating fast. Ideally, consume within a month of extraction. So don’t buy your oil in bulk.
Packaging label This should display date of extraction (not date of packaging), toxic residue levels and vitamin levels.
Deep frying Try not to deep-fry your food at more than 180º C (smoking oil); it can lead to diarrhoea, vomiting, mental depression, and fatty liver. Use a shallow pan with minimal oil and a low flame. Water in oil is also harmful; do not re-use oil especially if it contains food residues.
Combining oils Use a combination of oils (alternate between the good oils) during cooking.
How much oil to use? After our growing years, we need only about five teaspoonfuls a day. Excessive intake of oil is not good and leads to weight gain and other health problems because of obesity.
Olive oil Its advantage is its high good fat content — MUFA (73 gms per 100 gms) and PUFA content (11 gms per 100 gms) and Vitamin E (14 mg per 100 gms). Virgin and extra virgin olive oil are names given to oil naturally and slowly extracted with no addition of chemicals. They have the best taste and are ideal for salads and pickles. They cannot be normally used for deep frying (use refined olive oil for this), since they ‘burn’ quickly and leave a bitter taste in the food. They can also solidify in winter although unsaturated, due to the presence of natural waxes. Olive oil disintegrates fast and has to ideally be procured fresh.
Filed under: Views