New Delhi: In the midst of the pandemic, a healthy diet can help to boost your immunity, aiding protection from various diseases. However, making healthy food a part of your diet can be difficult, due to several reasons. For instance, snacking has increased considerably during the present lockdown, not only at evening tea breaks, but also in between meals to power through the day. Given the shortage of time, we end up looking for options that need less effort. While we all know that it is necessary for us to make mindful choices in current times, juggling between work-from-home and family duties makes it difficult to put health first.
Making small changes in daily cooking can go a long way in making your diet healthy, without adding any extra burden on you. An easy-peasy step is to use the right cooking oil. You may ask, why cooking oil?
If you think about it, cooking oil is one of the ingredients, which we probably use while cooking almost every meal, and among all options, it carries the highest calorie per gram. In effect, using the right cooking oil can make every meal a bit healthier. Now when we think of cooking oil, the first thing that comes to our mind is to reduce the usage of oil, however just that might not be sufficient.
No kitchen is complete without cooking oil. Used for sautéing, frying, baking, drizzling over vegetables for roasting or as salad dressing, there are endless ways to use oil. When used correctly, oils can have tremendous health benefits, including lowering cholesterol, decreasing inflammation and reducing your risks for heart disease and death. But if you use them wrong, they can increase your risk for all of these.
Fats and oils help you feel full; provide energy and essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Oil also increases the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin K), improves food texture, taste and flavour and is required for many biologically active compounds made in the body. High-quality culinary oils are an essential component of a healthy diet.
Types of fats in oils
If you want to understand cooking oils, you need to learn a bit about fat. Natural fats contain different ratios of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fat.
Saturated fats, like the fats found in coconut oil, are solid at room temperature. They’re also stable and resist oxidation, a form of damage to the oil.
Polyunsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature, and they’re usually not the best choice for cooking because they oxidise easily. Safflower and sunflower oil are two examples.
Monounsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature as well, though they tend to be more stable and resist oxidation better than polyunsaturated fats. This type of fat is found in canola oil and in nuts and olives.
CitySpidey talked to Nutritionist Kalpana Aggarwal, she said, “Cooking oils are fats, and just like protein, carbohydrates and vitamins, they are very important macronutrients. Cooking oil typically consists of 3 types of fatty acids: monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA), polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) and saturated fatty acid (SFA). As per guidelines from the National Institute of Nutrition, healthy oils should have a good balance of all three fatty acids. Most single seed cooking oils available in India which we normally use are unfortunately rich in either MUFA or PUFA. This is the reason doctors and nutritionists ask you to keep changing your oil. But unfortunately, just alternating between different oils without understanding the fatty acid ratios of individual oil will not help you get the benefit you seek.”
She further added, “A great way to get the right balance of MUFA and PUFA easily is to use blended oils such as vegetable, canola, peanut or corn, with a lower smoke point oil, such as extra virgin olive, coconut or sesame oil. Blending is a scientific process that cannot be achieved at home by just mixing oils; the oils are carefully chosen in ratios that are scientifically tested, so that we get the benefits of individual oils as well as the right fatty acid profile. These oils offer a lot of health benefits. Blended oils combine the benefits of two oils, to provide a synergistic effect, which helps to build immunity. It is also great for your heart health, as it helps in reducing bad cholesterol (LDL) and increasing good cholesterol (HDL). They also have a high smoke point making it ideal for all types of cooking (frying, sautéing, etc.).”
“Some of them also come with LoSorb Technology that helps food absorb lesser oil, keeping it light on your stomach. There are many options of blended oils available in the market like Saffola, helping with heart health and overall,” she concluded.
The stress of the ‘new normal’ can certainly take a toll on our overall health but making small changes in the ingredients we use while cooking can really help make it easy to help your family follow a healthy diet, while reducing the effort needed.