Published By: Puja Sinha

Taste and Beyond: Know the Health Quotient of your Cooking Oil

Buying the right cooking oil from the shelf!

Different oils have distinct flavours that can enhance or detract from the taste of the dish. But besides altering the flavour, cooking oil has one significant contribution: health and well-being. Different oils have varying amounts of saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated fats, vitamins, and antioxidants creating a positive difference in your health.

Oils high in unsaturated fats (like olive, canola, and sunflower oil) are generally healthier for heart health compared to oils high in saturated fats (like coconut and palm oil. On the other hand, some cooking oils are considered detrimental to human health owing to additives, omega-6 fatty acids, trans fats, which are known to significantly increase the risk of heart disease, and high saturated fats.

So, what are the parameters for choosing the right cooking oil?

Besides simply trusting a brand, having a basic knowledge of the key benchmarks that determine the nutritional value of cooking oil can help you with the right purchase:

Smoke Point to Reduce the Harmful Compounds

Smoke point is the temperature at which an oil starts to smoke and disintegrate, producing harmful compounds and a burnt flavour. Choosing an oil with a high smoke point (like avocado or grapeseed oil) is important for high-heat cooking methods like frying and sautéing. Using oils within their appropriate temperature range implies that their nutritional qualities are preserved. Oils that are heated past their smoke point lose beneficial nutrients, such as antioxidants and vitamins, which further compromise health.

Nutritional Profile for a Quick Learning

The nutritional profile of a good cooking oil should balance essential fatty acids, contain beneficial nutrients, and have minimal harmful components. The oil should also contain essential Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants, and Vitamin E. If you are too specific about the health aspect, make sure the product is minimally processed, which retains more nutrients. Extra virgin olive oil and cold-pressed flaxseed oil are examples of minimally processed oils.

Flavour Compatibility with the Dishes

Different cuisines require specific oils if you want to savour the authentic taste. Sesame oil goes well with Asian cuisine, while extra virgin olive oil is perfect for Mediterranean dishes. First, identify the cooking method that influences the oil you would need. Then, consider the taste of the dish. Vegetable oil and refined sunflower oil are good for dishes where you don’t want the oil to overpower the dish, and sesame oil and walnut oil add distinct flavours and are great for dressings, dips, and finishing touches.

Specific Health Benefits of Cooking Oils

Certain cooking oils are designated to look after pressing health issues; be it heart health or cholesterol. For example, peanut oil protects against cell damage just like palm oil has high antioxidant properties. Sesame oil reduces inflammation and oxidative stress; coconut oil has antibacterial elements. Nutritionists are also in favour of using a variety of oils to balance the intake of different fatty acids and nutrients. If you need to regulate specific health issues, you can also opt for market research for the relevant oil.

Minimally Processed Oils for Optimum Nutrients

Many minimally processed oils are produced using sustainable agricultural practices, which can be better for the environment. With this type of oil, you prevent chemicals that are used in the refining process. Another key feature is the Antioxidants that are found in minimally processed oils, which can help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, potentially lowering the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer. Minimally processed oils are blessed with monounsaturated fats, which are beneficial for heart health by helping to lower bad LDL cholesterol and raise good HDL cholesterol.