9 Best Cooking Oils in India and Their Health Benefits
Indian cooking is not complete without the sizzle of oil. For the most part, pretty much every recipe includes something along the lines of, “heat the oil in a pan,” at some point in the instructions. Whether it’s your favorite dal or a mouthwatering sweet dish, everything tastes better when combined with the right kind of oil. It can amp up taste while frying, cooking, or even just as a dressing over your favorite salad. Apart from taste, it’s also a very well-known fact that adding the right amount of oil in your diet can prevent and cure many health problems. In other words, your desi ‘tadka’ can be of great benefit to your health.
The Importance of Oil in Our Diets
Many may think that dishes cooked without oil are healthier than the alternative, but let me enlighten you for a moment: using oil can actually result in benefits your body needs. You just need to pick the right oil and focus on quantity so you get the biggest impact. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some oil insights:
- The right oil in the correct amount can help your body gain necessary fatty acids
- Oils are rich in polyunsaturated (PUFA) and monounsaturated (MUFA) fats, which are considered good fats
- Oils like olive oil can help lower your LDL (bad cholesterol) and raise your HDL levels (good)
The Best Cooking Oils for Great Results
Understanding the importance of oils in your diet, a question may come to mind: which oil is best? The thing is, while shopping you may find that every variety and brand of oil labels itself the “best.” Unfortunately, this makes things confusing and leaves us in a hard place if we want to find the oil that will truly be best. Lucky for you, that’s exactly why we compiled a list that will help you get through this dilemma:
1. Mustard Oil
If you live in the North of India, you know that mustard oil is the most widely used oil in that region. Not only is it very popular, but it also has the ideal fat composition. Additionally, it’s known as a stimulant for digestion and circulation, and even comes with antibacterial properties that can help with coughs, colds, and allergies.
2. Rice Bran Oil
Though not as popular, rice bran oil is rich in MUFAs and, due to the presence of oryzanol, can lower cholesterol levels. Being new to the market, this oil extracted from the outer covering of rice is not so famous yet, but is definitely gaining traction.
3. Coconut Oil
If you love South-Indian cuisine, you probably consume a lot of coconut oil. High in saturated fats with the bonus of increasing good cholesterol in our bodies, this oil provides a nutty and light taste and can even be used on your hair and body.
4. Olive Oil
When it comes to healthy and light eating, many believe that olive oil is the best of its kind. The thing is, they’re technically correct! Widely used in Mediterranean cooking like pasta and risottos, olive oil lowers cholesterol and has monounsaturated fats that lower your risk of heart disease and breast cancer.
5. Sunflower Oil
Oil extracted from sunflower seeds is a good option due to the abundance of vitamin E. It is also considered good for cancer patients, as its usage reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and builds immunity. As a tip, all your samosas and chips will be excellent if they’re fried in sunflower oil because they can retain their nutrients, even at higher temperatures.
6. Peanut Oil
Peanuts are known for their richness in vitamin E. Likewise, peanut oil (also referred to as groundnut oil) is rich in vitamin E, MUFAs, and PUFAs, and is low in saturated fats. All in all, it is considered good for all-purpose cooking.
7. Sesame Oil
The most commonly used oil in dishes from Andhra and Rajasthan, sesame oil is good for diabetes and the circulatory system. More specific to cooking, it adds a light flavor to food that most find delightful. As a bonus, sesame oil can also be used in oil pulling to keep your dental health in check.
8. Canola Oil
Canola oil is losing its importance with time, but it is still a healthy oil that is rich in Omega 3 and low in saturated fats. It can be easily used in many Indian dishes as healthier than other options.
9. Desi Ghee
Desi Ghee is one cooking option that is lastly the best to consume. It is good for skin, digestion and even weight loss if paired with an active lifestyle. It has been used by Indian mothers as a source of memory boost and healthier growth of children for the longest period.
How to Use Your Oils
This list of oils will work even better if you understand the correct way of adding each one into your diet. Like other fats, oils should be used under certain guidelines. Here are a few tips to consider while choosing between health and taste:
- Counting calories with oils is not the right approach because they’re technically fats are rich in calories (9 calories per gram). Instead, it’s better to focus on low fat and check the amount of fat you are willing to eat.
- Oil is not a complete dish and you can’t get all the nutrition you need from them. Use them more like an additional factor while cooking that gives you some added benefits in the form of taste and health.
- Though it may seem like it, spray oils are not lower in fat and you’ll do just as well to dip a piece of cloth into oil and wipe your pan with it.
- Add multiple oils in your diet. Research says that the consumption of different oils are good for your health.
Which Oil Is the Best?
So, which oil is best? Though some may say this or that, the answer isn’t as clear as you may think. Every oil has its positives and negatives, and while a certain oil may be best for you, it may not be best for me or vice versa. At the end of the day, what will truly make one oil better than another one is how it is produced. That is to say, oils produced by organic means are healthier and better options than those that are not because they contain less adulterators and chemicals, leading to an overall better oil for your health.