Let’s start this article with a simple question “How many of us have tried to remove those extra drops of oil floating over our dishes”. Well, in all honesty, the answer is almost all of us! It worries us, we get a little anxious but then how can we avoid oil, after all, Indian cooking is all about some nice desi tadkas.
Oil seems essential for cooking, but if you’re not careful, cooking with too much oil can lead to a lot of health problems and added calories. If your diet consistently includes greasy foods, it raises your risk for chronic conditions- particularly heart disease.
Research indicates that a significant contributor to cardiovascular disease is the use of cooking oils containing high levels of unhealthy fats such as saturated and trans fats. Saturated fatty acids and trans fats are harmful to health and raise blood cholesterol levels which increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
The promotion of healthier cooking oils is a key action to make your dishes nutritious and heart-healthy. Healthier oils include oils that have acceptable levels of saturated and trans fats. Where possible, saturated fats should be replaced with small amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Monounsaturated fats can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels in the body and lower the risk of heart disease. Let’s take a look at some of the healthier cooking oil options rich in monounsaturated fats.
High in monounsaturated fatty acids and natural levels of antioxidants; olive oil has been linked to healthy cholesterol levels and a lower risk of heart disease. Olive oil can be used for cooking or as a salad dressing and the olive itself can be eaten both raw and cooked.
Rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, antioxidants, vitamin E, and phytosterols, peanut oil will become your kitchen staple in no time. It is also considered ideal for deep frying, due to its high smoking point. So next time you worry about excess oil, look no further than peanut oil.
Other oils rich in monosaturated fats include rapeseed, avocado and sesame oil.
Polyunsaturated fats are termed ‘essential’ fats as they cannot be made by the body and must be obtained from our diet. These can be found in corn, sunflower, safflower and soya bean oils. Essential fats play a role in many body processes, including immune and nervous system function, blood clotting, and blood pressure regulation.
By reducing or eliminating the unhealthy saturated and trans fats in our diet, we will be getting a better balance for our heart and overall health. But apart from making an informed choice on what oil we want to line our pan with, we also need to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Start with cutting back on the use of oil. Cook with less oil, say instead of sautéing your vegetables in oil, try vegetable broth or a little water. Or better yet, steam your vegetables. Remember the oil could be swapped for a better choice, but the key to healthy living is to stay within your fat gram and calorie goals.