7 best and healthy cooking oils for a healthy life

Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.[1] A variety of definitions have been used for different purposes over time. Health can be promoted by encouraging healthful activities, such as regular physical exercise and adequate sleep,[2] and by reducing or avoiding unhealthful activities or situations, such as smoking or excessive stress. Some factors affecting health are due to individual choices, such as whether to engage in a high-risk behavior, while others are due to structural causes, such as whether the society is arranged in a way that makes it easier or harder for people to get necessary healthcare services. Still other factors are beyond both individual and group choices, such as genetic disorders.

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Find out which cooking oils are the healthiest and why, and which ones should you definitely avoid for the sake of your health.

What are the healthiest cooking oils? You’ve probably heard or asked yourself this question a lot of times. Well, finding a healthy oil can be a bit confusing because there is a lot of information circulating on the internet. When it comes to choosing the right cooking oil, you should consider both the health aspects of the oil and the cooking properties.

Some oils obviously work better than others in both aspects, while others leave something to be desired in one or the other. Indian households largely use ghee, but alternatively a lot of people also use vegetable oil for daily cooking. Now, the huge variety of cooking oils available in the market leave a lot of people flummoxed.

cooking oils
The most healthy cooking oil revealed. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

With so many options available for cooking oil, how do you know which oils are healthy? To help you find out the best cooking oils, HealthShots got in touch with Dr Anshu Chaturvedi, Department of Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics, Fortis Escorts Hospital, Jaipur. 

Let’s find out why cooking oil matters

If you think that’s not important, you are wrong ladies. Choosing the right cooking oil is really important because it has a great influence on your health as well as weight. 

For the uninitiated, Dr Chaturvedi informs, “Cooking oils, which basically are fats, are one of the essential macronutrients which our body needs to produce energy. Fats also help in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Cooking oils also add to the browning of food and for the heat transfer too.”

How do you know your cooking oil is healthy?

The goodness of cooking oil depends on the smoke point or temperature of that oil. The highest smoke point is meant to be the healthiest. 

So let’s get down to the real questions: What are the top healthiest cooking oils?

Here’s a list of healthy cooking oils suggested by Dr Chaturvedi:

1. Sunflower oil

Sunflower oil that is high in oleic acid has the highest smoke point. These oils are considered to be good for deep frying. However, repeated heating of any kind of vegetable oil destroys its quality by making more trans fats. It has a mild flavour so you can use it in any type of dish. 

cooking oils
Sunflower oil is perfect for cooking. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

In fact, a study published in Journal of the American Dietetics Association shows that opting for sunflower oil rather than an oil high in saturated fat could lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides levels. 

2. Avocado oil

Pressed from the fruit of the avocado tree, this oil has a smoke point of approximately 271°C, making it ideal for high heat cooking like deep frying. Containing omega-9 fatty acids and full of antioxidants makes it ideal for sauteing and roasting. In fact, you will get most of the benefits of avocado oil if you consume it raw. 

Also, read: Weight loss on your mind? Here are 5 cooking oils you must include in your diet

3. Mustard oil

Mustard oil or sarson ka tel really needs no introduction in an Indian household. Whether you want to whip up delicious delicacies or massage your body, it is the go-to oil for everything.  

Mustard oil has both culinary and therapeutic uses. It contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and has a low content of saturated fats. Mustard oil not only enhances the taste and flavour of food but it also cures many diseases related to skin, joints, muscles and heart. Therefore, for cooking it’s best. 

4. Olive oil

One of the most versatile and healthy oils to cook with and eat is olive oil, as long as it’s extra virgin. Olive oil is the best oil to use for baking and salad dressings. Extra virgin olive oil, especially contains phenolic compounds and is rich in antioxidant properties. Extra virgin olive oil contains a large amount of monounsaturated fats and some polyunsaturated fatty acids; many studies have linked it to better heart health.

Also, read: Which is the most heart-friendly cooking oil out there? A cardiologist answers

5. Sesame oil

One of the earliest known vegetable oils, sesame seed oil has been used for thousands of years. 

There are a lot of great reasons to add sesame oil to your diet. First of all, sesame oil is well known for being a great source of both mono and polyunsaturated fats, which reduce your risk of heart disease and lower your blood pressure. Sesame seeds are also a great source of vitamins and minerals. so it’s good for cooking. 

cooking oils
Choose sesame or til oil for its godness. Image courtesy: Image courtesy: Shutterstock

6. Canola oil

Another oil that is super healthy is canola oil that is low in saturated fat. And because of its great properties like omega-3 fatty acids, it helps to improve your cardiovascular health and promotes weight loss. Also, it’s a good source of vitamins E and K. Canola oil is ideal for sauteing.

7. Flaxseed oil

Flaxseed oil may still be one of the least common oils used in the kitchen, but it is full of nutrients such as potassium and omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, the latter of which has been reported to improve heart health, reduce inflammation, and lower the risk of certain types of cancer. Other proven benefits of flaxseed oil include lowering cholesterol, boosting digestive health, and reducing acne and the severity of breakouts.

Keep in mind that flaxseed oil is not for high heat cooking and roasting. 

What are the worst cooking oils?

Hydrogenated oils are the worst cooking oils, followed by margarine. 

Further, Dr Chaturvedi shares, “Palm and castor oils are also not considered as good options for cooking, as they have more saturated fats in their composition, so people consuming them may be at higher risk of heart diseases.”

Similarly, too much intake of castor oil may cause nausea, dizziness, and pregnancy-related complications.

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