Oil Check: How Healthy Is Your Cooking Oil?
An introduction to the oils in your pantry
Most of us can’t imagine cooking without oil. We all have our own preferences, from mustard and sunflower to olive and avocado oil. Yet, how many of us really know our oils? Here’s a primer for you.
This favourite—widely used in the kitchens in eastern and north-eastern India for its pungent flavour—packs quite a punch. Mustard oil is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids and omega-3 fats, which are good for your heart. Grandmothers will tell you the oil is great for treating common colds too. Store the oil in a dark bottle and keep it away from direct light.
Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) is high on healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, which prevent bad cholesterol and cut the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The oil is best used with low-heat or medium cooking—drizzle a bit of olive oil on your salad or dip or your pasta. You could also do your stir fries with EVOO.
Sesame oil may turn out to be the surprise star in your kitchen. Rich in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, it is a worthy rival to olive oil. A study published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine found that consumption of sesame oil “lowered blood pressure” and “increased antioxidant status in hypertensive patients”. The oil is perfect for stir-frying and sautéing. Keep it in a refrigerator for best results.
Much like extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil is also unrefined. But unlike olive oil, you can use this one for high-heat cooking. The oil contains both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, as well as vitamin E. The bummer: it is expensive.
Like extra-virgin olive oil, canola oil too has relatively high amounts of oleic acid, which may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Derived from rapeseed, this oil, which has a neutral flavour, can be used for high-heat cooking.