Cooking Oils – Facts for a Healthy Lifestyle

Leonardo Olive Oil August 25, 2015 Benefits of Olive Oil 893 Views

When it comes to cooking oils and choosing the ideal one for optimum health, most of us are not very certain about the right pick. As is commonly said ‘You are what you eat’, so paying attention to the cooking medium one uses to cook their food can go a long way in ensuring health and well-being in the long run.

The right type of cooking oil not just protects you from lifestyle diseases which are rampant nowadays, but also provides the right balance of essentials fats while retaining the natural flavors of your food. So, how does one choose the right cooking oil? Here is your guide!

While selecting the right cooking oil, look out for:

  • Effect on cholesterol by the oil
  • Nutrition value of the oil
  • Amount of Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFAs), Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs) and Saturated Fatty Acids (SFASs) present in the oil. MUFAs should be maximum and SFAs minimum.
  • Behaviour of oil at higher temperatures, i.e. for purposes such as deep-frying.
  • Vitamin content of the oil

Oils exhibit different properties on their interaction with heat, such as change in colour, texture or even taste. Excessive heating of certain oils can reduce its nutritional properties while some oils, like coconut or mustard oil, are ideal for high temperature cooking.

Cholesterol levels are easily manipulated by the kind of food we eat. If a balance is not maintained, change in these levels can cause major illnesses, which may prove to be life threatening too.

MUFAs help to regulate cholesterol levels in the body. They increase the production of the ‘good’ cholesterol required and are found in oils such as canola, olive and peanut. Pomace olive oil, obtained from the pulp of the olives after the first press for higher-grade oil, contains high content of MUFA, making it a desirable choice for cooking.

Highly refined and processed oils can prove to be harmful. Researchers have concluded that several seed and vegetable oils such as rapeseed oil, soybean oil, mustard oil or sesame oil should be avoided as they can cause heart related diseases, or even cancer. This is because they are extremely rich in Omega-6 fatty acids, the intake of which in increased quantities can stall cell repair and lead to major diseases.

Some harmful effects of cooking oils include:

  • Modified unsaturated fats, better known as trans fats, are highly toxic and their over-consumption can lead to severe diseases. They are commonly found in canola and soybean oils.
  • Vegetable oils, being rich in Omega-6 fatty acids, can lead to an increased risk in heart problems.
  • Some oils can trigger DNA damage in the body. This can be dangerous for pregnant women, as the children born may have certain deficiencies.
  • Oils such as Palm Oil contain high levels of saturated fats, which can increase cholesterol levels, and even heart problems.

Some of the best cooking oils include olive oil, canola oil, rice bran oil and sunflower oil.

More than just benefits for the health, using cooking oils help bring out the flavour of the food. One must keep in mind the people they are cooking for and the kind of food they are required to prepare.

Every oil has different properties and they should be consumed in limited but regular quantities so that the required fatty acid and nutrient levels are maintained for good health.