Healthy You

Oils with a high smoke point

We might be aware of the good fats and bad fats. But did you know all variants of oil have a ‘smoke point’, the temperature at which it begins to break? It is that tipping moment from where the oil, due to heat, changes its basic properties. Many times, this change in basic characteristics could be harmful to health. Hence, an oil with a high smoke point is good for deep frying while an oil with a low one is good for sautéing and so on. In other words, it is always wise to check the variant before embarking on preparing any dish.

Here we throw light upon the same…

Coconut Oil

Once, coconut oil was India’s favourite variant of oil, especially in the South. Being rich in saturated fat earned this variant a bad name and was frowned upon till recent times. New knowledge of oils and its high smoke point catapulted this wonder in the top position, making it one of the healthiest oils to use. Though it does increase blood cholesterol, it also raises good cholesterol alongside. Having a high smoke point of more than 300-degree Fahrenheit earns this pure beauty the title ‘Thalaiva’ of oils.

Groundnut Oil

Groundnut oil has a decent blend of fats. It has a good balance of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats making it an all-purpose cooking oil. Being low in bad fats, this nature’s gift is a popular and a safe option in kitchens. Also called peanut oil, this variant contains vitamin E, making it rich in antioxidants (which protects our body from free-radical damage). This nutty flavoured oil is good for stir-fried, Chinese, Thai and such dishes.

Mustard Oil

A favourite of the East, as hardly any Bengali dishes are prepared without mustard oil! It has a distinct and pungent aroma and has an almost perfect balance of the fat composition. Additionally, this wonder is known to be antibacterial, good for the skin and heart friendly. However, it is suggested that you use it in combination with other oils. Mustard oil has a high smoke point and is good for preparing pakodas, samosa, and other fried food.

Sesame Oil

Along with a high smoke point, this ‘til oil’ has a perfect blend of MUFA and PUFA. Being low in saturated fats makes it yet another favourite on the kitchen shelf. Do note that as sesame oil is high in polyunsaturated fat, it should not be heated for long. This variant is also nutritious boasting of essential minerals like iron, calcium, zinc, and B6 vitamin too. This makes it perfect oil for sautéing, shallow frying and Asian cuisine.

Sunflower Oil

Another popular variant, this oil contains many health benefits and our favourite vitamin, vitamin E. The wonder has a good blend of PUFA and MUFA but includes more polyunsaturated fats than any other vegetable oil (which we regularly use for our cooking). This makes this oil good for our heart. Sunflower oil also helps our immune system thus boosts our energy. It has a high smoke point, making it a go-to oil while frying samosa, pakodas, chips, etc.

Rice Bran Oil

Yet another oil gaining grounds is rice bran oil. Processed from bran of rice grain, this variant has a chemical ‘oryzanol’, making it anti for a lot of harmful effects on our health such as anti-cancerous, anti-diabetic, anti-thyroid and so on.  As it has good amounts of MUFA and PUFA, this oil gets a stamp for being right for cholesterol. It is packed in vitamin E and this is a powerful antioxidant. Rice bran oil is good for frying as it has a high smoke point. Besides other sterling properties, it is good for our skin. It is no wonder then that nutritionists and other health authorities consider it one of the healthiest oils.

Olive Oil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil

If you are an olive oil fan, then this spells happy news for you. A gift from the Mediterranean, olive oil is known to be a ‘jigri dost’ of our heart and is great for the skin too. It contains monounsaturated fats, believed to help in lowering risk of heart diseases, cholesterol and also breast cancer. Extra virgin olive oil is also a good source of antioxidants.  It’s active component ‘polyphenols’ is considered good for heart health. This variant is less acidic than olive oil, allowing you to drizzle it over salads and enjoy.

Footnotes:

  • Some oils raise the sugar levels. Therefore, all those who have diabetes need to consult their physician as to which one they can consume.
  • No single oil is ideal, no variant is perfect. Hence, it is wise to keep changing cooking oils so that you get the nourishment from other oils as well as a well-rounded variety of Essential Fatty Acids. Cook different cuisines like Bengali (mustard), Rajasthani (sesame), regular (groundnut), Italian (Olive) and so on. Have fun.
  • Moderation is the operative word while using oil.
  • Your cooking oil should have a healthy balance of fats. As each of us is different and our families have a medical history, figure out with your physician which cooking oil is good for you and your family.

By the end of it, you can opt for one that suits your needs the most.

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