Cooking oil is a staple ingredient in your kitchen without which it's almost impossible to cook many dishes! Whether it is Indian, Chinese or continental, any cuisine involves a cooking oil that lets the elements in the dish cook properly and not to forget the delectable aroma and taste it lends. However, with growing health consciousness among people, the quest of healthy cooking oils is on a rise unlike never before!
In this article, we have listed the Top 10 Healthy Cooking Oils which are suitable for a specific type of cooking and offer a range of health benefits.
List of 10 Healthy Cooking Oils You Must Use For Cooking:
Before we proceed to the details, remember that the term "healthy" in a cooking oil refers to high percentage of mono and poly unsaturated fatty acids with less percentage of saturated fats. You must also consider the smoking point of the oil before you consider it for your cooking.
1. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil:Extra Virgin Olive oil, also called EVOO as a short form, is a pure and unprocessed form of olive oil. It is extracted by grinding the olives and has a darker color compared to the other forms of Olive oil. EVOO is considered to one of the healthiest cooking oils as it contains a high amount of antioxidants and mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which minimize the risk of heart diseases.
As the oil is cold-pressed, there is very little loss of nutrients in EVOO. However, being an unrefined oil, Extra-Virgin Olive Oil cannot handle high heat and has a very low smoking point. So, it is unsuitable for high heat cooking or deep frying. The best way to use it is by drizzling a generous amount on salads, dips and bread.
2. Pure Olive Oil:Unlike its name, Pure Olive oil is not exactly "pure", but made using a combination of unrefined and refined olive oils. Because of the heat or chemicals involved in the extraction process, the nutrient loss is higher in this oil compared to EVOO. However, it is still considered a healthy cooking oil as it contains atleast 10% Virigin oil and 3-4% Oleic acid which are good for heart health.
Pure Olive oil, also sold as "regular" olive oil, is lighter in color and has a more neutral flavor. It can handle high heat cooking and therefore can be termed as an "all-purpose" cooking oil. Pure Olive Oil is suitable for for baking, frying, grilling etc.
Also Read: Amla Juice Benefits For Hair And Skin
3. Avocado Oil:Avocado oil is the latest addition to the list of healthy cooking oils. It is quite expensive and usually imported from other countries. If you don't mind the cost, then Avocado oil is an excellent alternative to regular oils. It is extracted by cold-pressing Avocado flesh and is quite high in mono-unsaturated fatty acids and at the same time, contains a very low percentage of saturated fats.
Avocado oil has a mild flavour and can also handle high heat. So, it can be used in different types of cooking like sauteing, frying, dressings, baking and roasting. Fortunately in India, Avocado oil is available in small to medium-sized bottles, which are ideal for beginners who like to give it a try without spending a bomb.
4. Cold-Pressed Coconut Oil:Coconut oil extracted by the cold-pressed method from the kernel and meat of coconuts is considered to a good cooking oil. Although coconut oil contains more amount of saturated fats, they are medium chain fatty acids which do not raise bad cholesterol levels in the body. Additionally, they are also known to improve the good cholesterol levels, which can be beneficial to patients with heart problems and diabetes.
Coconut oil has a distinctive coconut flavor which can enhance the taste of the dish (if you like coconut flavour, that is!). However, it is meant only for medium to low heat cooking as exposing it to high heat can reduce the antioxidant content in the oil. If you are considering this oil for high-heat cooking, then go for refined coconut oil which is low in nutrition compared to the cold-pressed variant.
5. Sesame Oil:Sesame oil is a traditional cooking oil used in Indian and Asian cuisines. Raw or toasted sesame seeds are pressed at cool temperatures to extract Sesame oil that has a toasty flavour. It is one of the healthiest cooking oils that offers many health benefits. The oil is packed with mono and poly unsaturated fatty acids, along with powerful antioxidants like sesamol and sesamin which can reduce cell damage in heart. Furthermore, it also contains many anti-inflammatory agents which reduce inflammation in joints.
Sesame oil is a great alternative for people who have nut-allergies. It can handle high heat and therefore, suitable for different types of cooking like frying, sauteing and roasting.
Also Read: Health Benefits Of Bitter Gourd Juice
6. Peanut Oil:If you prefer a nice, nutty flavour in your food, then try peanut oil. Apart from enhancing the taste of your meals, peanut oil can impart good health with its nutrient-rich profile. The oil has is packed with mono-unsaturated fatty acids, a percentage higher than other regular cooking oils. Additionally, it contains Vitamin E, which is a natural antioxidant that strengthens your immunity and minimizes free cell damage.
The best part about peanut oil is its high smoke point which can handle upto 450 Deg F. This made it suitable choice for frying, deep frying and sauteing. However, peanut oil may trigger reactions in people with nut allergies.
7. Flaxseed Oil:Flaxseed is regarded as one of the healthiest cooking oils on the planet! It is particularly special for vegetarians who are deprived of omega-fatty acids that are usually available in fish like Salmon. Flaxseed oil is packed with Omega-3 fatty acids which lead to lowered lipid levels and reduced blood pressure. Also, flaxseed oil is quite high in mono-unsaturated fatty acids which lowers bad cholesterol levels and wards off heart diseases.
However, the drawback with flaxseed oil is its extreme sensitivity to heat. It quickly oxidizes when exposed to even slight heat and therefore not suitable for cooking. The oil must always be stored in a dark colored bottle, preferably in a refrigerator. It is best used as a drizzle on salads and bread.
8. Canola Oil:Canola oil is a versatile cooking oil that is extracted from rape seed. While many people consider Canola to be unhealthy, the truth is quite the opposite. Unrefined Canola oil is quite good for your health as it contains more mono-unsaturated fats and just 7% of saturated fats, which is lesser than other cooking oils. It is also a good source of Omega-3, Omega-6 and Omega-9 fatty acids.
Canola oil has a very high smoke point, making it ideal for frying, roasting and baking. It has a neutral flavor and doesn't contribute much towards the taste. Experts recommend choosing cold-pressed Canola oil to enjoy its benefits.
9. Walnut Oil:Walnut oil is a delicate plant-based oil that is extracted from walnut kernels. It has a nutty aroma that adds flavor to the dish. Walnut oil is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids or alpha-linolenic acid which can improve the health of your skin and promote faster wound healing. Furthermore, the high amounts of phytochemicals present in this oil may have anti-cancer effects and even reduce blood pressure and blood sugar levels in Type-2 Diabetic patients.
Walnut oil is sensitive to heat and not suitable for direct cooking. It must be stored in a refrigerator and used in salad dressing or as a drizzle on top of dishes.
Also Read: Best Thing To Drink In The Morning
10. Sunflower Oil:Sunflower oil is one of the most popular cooking oils in the world which offers many benefits to our health. It contains about 69% of polyunsaturated fat and 20% of mono-unsaturated fats. Additionally, sunflower oil also contains a high amount of Vitamin E which fights oxidative stress on cells and delay the ageing process. Being rich in Oleic acid, Sunflower oil can significantly reduce bad cholesterol levels and may increase good cholesterol levels in the body.
Sunflower oil is a neutral-tasting, light-colored oil that can withstand high heats. It is suitable for Indian cooking which comprises of a lot of frying and roasting.