“Health is wealth” as said by Emerson, this phrase has followed us since our childhood but we understand this rightfully when either we get diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol or any heart problems. We start our literature search by juggling from the internet to books to buying exclusive oils from stores to shuffling from one brand to other. But the answer to what’s best is probably unanswered and so little understanding about the chemical nature of oil is important.
All the oils have fatty acids – saturated (harmful, increases cholesterol), monosaturated (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). PUFA is again divided into linolenic (LC or n6), alpha-linolenic (ALNA or n3) acid, and trans fatty acids (TFA). N6 and N3 are necessary for maintaining the proper function of the body. The World Health Organisation report says that N6 PUFA lowers cholesterol and N3 PUFA lowers blood pressure, increase blood circulation, sudden death and triglycerides. N6: N3 proportion should be maintained so that enzymes can be converted into active compounds, as per recommendation ratio should be 5-10:1 or lower to reduce heart disease.
Oils that benefit us:
1. Mustard oil
produced from mustard seeds and is widely used in North India and East India. Research shows that it has several health benefits with high amounts of MUFA and PUFA, also reduces 70% chances of heart disease.
2. Canola oil
it is produced from rapeseed oil and “Canola” is derived from “Canadian oil, low acid”. It is high MUFA and benefits heart recognized as per American Dietetic Association and American Heart Association.
3. Olive oil
the most fashionable oil from the Mediterranean. It is considered the best oil with high MUFA and has many health benefits like lowering LDL and increasing HDL, lowers blood pressure and has a vasodilatory effect.
Extra virgin olive oil is also available in the market which is least processed. It has been found in research that it lowers the risk of stroke and heart attacks.
(Know about 5 Amazing Benefits of Olive Oil)
4. Rice bran oil
it is made by extraction from the germ and inner husk of rice. It has a high smoking point and is mild on flavor and is very popular in Japan and China. Rice bran oil is the most balanced oil and also is rich in vitamin- E and anti-oxidants that helps in preventing heart attacks and lower cholesterol.
5. Coconut oil
it has been part of peoples diet in all over southern parts of India. It doesn’t contain cholesterol but has saturated fatty acids with traces of PUFA and MUFA. It is also a rich source of vitamin E, vitamin K, and iron.
Indian practices of cooking mostly involve heating the oil at high temperatures (for frying mustard, coconut, and canola oil can be used) and cooking (for sautés olive oil), but most of the oils with high PUFA degrade into transfats, become mutagenic and free radical. Repeated frying of the oils also causes damage to the oil and can be harmful to the heart. It is always recommended to use cold pressed or extra virgin oils and avoid refined oils which lead to loss of antioxidants and are mutagenic. The most important point to remember while buying oil is to keep in mind your requirements.