Health or Taste…what is your expectation from cooking oil?

It is quite a known fact that Kashmiri moms constantly keep changing their oils according to what their fellow neighbors, friends, and rishtedar or even the suggetions from the grocery store guy!. (No wonder why the fathers need a new list every month!)

That being said, suggestions that the neighbor aunties give, may not always be the best. Certain oils are good for health, others just might deteriorate your health.

It is important to know that some oils are refined while others are cold-pressed. Let’s try to understand the difference.

Refined oils

The term ‘refined’ may deceive you into thinking that such oils are pure or free from chemicals, whilst the opposite is true. 

Oils that need to be refined go through a 7 or more step process (including bleaching, processing with hexane solvent, deodorizing, etc), literally draining away all the nutrients, making it unhealthy for consumption. Examples of refined oils include rapeseed (canola), soybean, corn, sunflower, safflower, etc. 

Our body is simply not designed to consume chemically extracted refined oil.

Cold-pressed oil

Cold-pressed oil, on the other hand, is not the new alternative to this problem but was the only way to produce oils until the technology was made available, for refining oils, in the mid 20th century. Oilseeds that can be naturally pressed to extract oil is known as cold-pressed oil. ‘‘Cold-pressed’’ also means that no ‘heat’ was added during the extraction of the oil unlike in the refining process. Olive oil, avocado oil, flaxseed oil, walnut oil, sesame, mustard, groundnut, etc are usually available as cold-pressed oils. However these can be refined too, so make sure you check the label before buying!

Below, you’ll find our list for the healthiest cooking oils:

  1. Olive oil

Benefits: Regular olive oil is deprived of important nutrients and antioxidants. In contrast, extra virgin or cold-pressed olive oil is the best as it retains the nutrients and the antioxidants from the olive fruit. The antioxidants present in olive oil are also believed to have anti-cancer properties. The Mediterranean diet, famous for consuming olive oil and other healthy fats, has been linked to weight loss and reduction in disease risk( like cardiovascular disease and stroke). Extra Virgin Olive Oil may help improve insulin sensitivity, which can help protect against type 2 diabetes. Consumption of olive oil can also help reduce joint pain and swelling from rheumatoid arthritis. Also, in regions where olive oil is a central part of the diet, people tend to live longer.  

Flavor: Extra-virgin (or cold-pressed) olive oil has a peppery aftertaste flavor to it, along with a slight bitterness. Whereas, refined olive oil has no flavor or odor to it.

Smoke Point: The smoke point of extra virgin olive oil is 410f or 210 celsius, whereas the smoke point of refined olive oil is 486f or 252celcuis.

How To Store: It is important to keep your cooking oils free from oxygen, light, and heat to avoid them getting oxidized or rancid. Store them in a cool, dark, dry place and make sure to close the lid tightly after each use.

Our choice: Delmonte Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

2. Avocado oil

Benefits: A very underrated oil that has a similar composition to olive oil has a high level of healthy monounsaturated fats and is also low in polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats are good for your health in several ways, such as they can help lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol level. Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance that can cause clogged, or blocked, arteries (blood vessels). Keeping your LDL level low reduces your risk for heart disease and stroke.[1] Avocado oil is perfect for almost any cooking uses in the kitchen including baking.

Flavor: A mild flavor with a little bit of nutty and buttery taste.

Smoke point: 271 celsius or 519 Fahrenheit (in refined)

                       250 celsius or 482 Fahrenheit (cold-pressed)

How to store: Avocado oil does not need to be kept in the refrigerator but rather in a cool, dark place away from sunlight & heat.

Our choice: Olivado Extra Virgin Avocado Oil

3. Sesame oil

Benefits: ‘’Sesame oil’’ also known as the queen of oilseeds, is packed with two antioxidants, sesamol, and sesaminol that may have powerful effects on your health. Know that antioxidants are substances that help reduce cell damage caused by free radicals in our bodies. Free radicals cause damage to our DNA, cells, and proteins and this kind of damage can lead to diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and even cancer. Therefore we must eat a diet rich in antioxidants, to fight free radical damage and reduce oxidative stress in our body. Sesame oil just like olive and avocado oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, which may reduce heart disease and stroke.in simple words, it is good for your heart.

Flavor: It has a very earthy and nutty flavor to it, however, cold-pressed oil could be relatively neutral in flavor.

Smoke point: Sesame oil has a high smoke point of 410 Fahrenheit or 210 celsius, making it very safe for cooking.

How to store: This oil is best kept in the refrigerator.

Our choice: Farm Naturelle-Organic Virgin Cold Pressed Black Sesame seed cooking oil.

4. Peanut oil

Benefits: Peanut oil or groundnut oil is a vegetable oil extracted from the seeds of the peanut plant. It contains vitamin E [2], an antioxidant that prevents cell damage caused by free radicals in the body. This oil, just like other oils, is rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.[2] that is linked to lowered heart disease. Other than these, peanut oil contains oleic acid that is proven to reverse the inhibitory effect of insulin production[3]. Overall this oil is great for heart and body health but there may be some side effects and allergies.you may develop an allergic response to this oil if you have a peanut allergy. For some people with peanut allergy, even tiny amounts of peanuts can cause a serious reaction that can even be life-threatening (anaphylaxis). An allergic response to peanuts usually occurs within minutes after exposure. Peanut allergy signs and symptoms can include:

  • Skin reactions, such as hives, redness or swelling
  • Itching or tingling in or around the mouth and throat
  • Digestive problems, such as diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea or vomiting
  • Tightening of the throat
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Runny nose

The side effects of peanut oil are:

Since peanut oil has a high content of omega-6 fatty acids, excess intake of this oil may cause serious issues like nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, cardiovascular disease, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease [4]

Therefore we would suggest using peanut oil maybe once or twice a week along with your regular favorite oil.

Flavor:Peanut oil has a pleasing and sometimes light, nutty flavor

Smoke Point: Refined peanut oil has a high smoke point of 449.6 Fahrenheit or 232 celsius whereas unrefined peanut oil has a smoke point of 320 Fahrenheit or 160-degree celsius.

How To Store: This oil does not need to be stored in the refrigerator but should be kept in a dark, cool place away from heat, light, and oxygen.

Our choice: Puvi Cold Pressed Groundnut Oil

What you should know

Most industrial seed and vegetable oils are highly processed and contain too much omega-6 fatty acids. Such oils have been wrongly considered as ‘’healthy oils or heart-healthy oils’’ by the media and nutritional experts over the past few decades. Consumption of such oils, over a while, leads to chronic heart diseases and cancer. Long theory short, you should be avoiding all of these oils:

  1. Soybean oil
  2. Corn oil
  3. Cottonseed oil
  4. Canola oil
  5. Rapeseed oil
  6. Sunflower oil
  7. Grapeseed oil
  8. Safflower oil
  9. Rice bran oil
  10. Flaxseed oil

(Pretty much leaves very few oils to use!)

The Bottom Line

Refined oil should never be a choice. Never buy refined cooking oils because, in the long run, it will annihilate your health. A good choice is always an extra-virgin or cold-pressed cooking oil as it reserves the maximum amount of nutrients and antioxidants. Also, never wait for the oil to come up to its smoke point. You can always heat it for a little time but never overheat as this may one, burn your oil, two produce harmful substances in your oil that may be unfit for consumption. 

If you’ve learned something new from this article, don’t forget to share with your family and friends so that they may benefit a little something from this too!

References:

[1]https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000785.htm#:~:text=Monounsaturated%20fats%20are%20good%20for,for%20heart%20disease%20and%20stroke.

[2]https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171410/nutrients

[3]https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19558671/

[4]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3335257/?report=classic

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