Have you ever stuck up while choosing the oil for cooking ??? Here are some facts to know before choosing the oils. For a country like India, we are definitely not on the right track while choosing oils. Earlier, people use to consume oil of what they get from their locality( for eg, south they preferred coconut and sesame oils, east and north with mustard oil, west and centre with groundnut oil). They did the cold compressed process to make it edible. Suddenly, everything was inversed and unfortunately, industrialized refined oils started to rule us. Does it have an impact on our health? yes, definitely.
For instance, we all know that there is an increase in cardiovascular diseases (heart problems) in India in recent decades. Do that have a correlation with the oils we use now? yes, it does!
What are the essential oils?
Firstly, it is significant to know what are essential oils and why are they required.
Certain fatty acids like linoleic acid, linolenic acid (ALA), arachidonic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid( EPA), decosahexanoic acid (DHA) are unsaturated fatty acids. These fatty acids cannot be synthesized by our body. so, we certainly depend on plants and other animals as a source of supplement.
Why essential oils are necessary!
- They are rich in fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K)
- Essential oils helps to transport certain important elements from in and out of the cell
- To maintain the integrity of the cell membrane
- They are responsible for the synthesis of certain vital substances like prostaglandins, prostacyclin, thromboxane, leukotriene etc .. which plays an important role in body defense mechanism, as a platelet aggregation and to stop bleeding, etc.
Thus a certain amount of oil intake per day in our regular diet is essential. For an optimal health benefit, try to limit the total fat intake to 25-30 per cent of your total calorie intake.
So now, we all talk about trans fats, saturated FA, monounsaturated FA, polyunsaturated FA, omega 3 and 6 FA!!! What are their clinical significance and which one is necessary for a healthy life!! Here comes a brief idea…
Saturated fatty acids (SFA):
- They are the major component of meat products ( mainly red meat). It makes the meat into white greasy appearance and solidifies at room temperature
- Other main sources of saturated fatty acids are dairy products and palm oils
- consumption of saturated fats might risk the incidence of coronary heart disease by increasing total plasma cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. It will also increase the risk of prostate and colon cancer
Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA):
- It lowers both plasma cholesterol and LDL cholesterol but maintains or increase HDL cholesterol. Thereby, decreasing the incidence of coronary heart disease.
- Olive oil is rich in MUFA
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA):
- Consumption of omega 6 PUFA will lower the plasma cholesterol and LDL cholesterol level but unfortunately, it will also lower the HDL level.
- Consuming omega 3 PUFA protects from coronary heart diseases and lowers BP. But they have little effect on LDL or HDL cholesterol levels. Flax seeds, canola oil, soyabean oil, and fish oil ( salmon fish) are their main source.
- Nuts, avocados, soybean, sesame oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, safflower oil, mustard oil, groundnut oil, rice bran oil, etc mainly have omega 6 PUFA and a minimal amount of MUFA and SFA.
Now, what are trans fats !!!!
Before knowing about the trans fats, we should know about something called ” SMOKE POINT”. It is the temperature at which the oil starts to burn and smoke.
Why is it so important???
When the oil burns( or reaches its smoke point), chemically, the double bonds in unsaturated FA get convert into trans double bonds by the partial hydrogenation process. Thus they are chemically unsaturated FA but behave like saturated FA which is termed as a trans fatty acid. Dietary intake of trans fatty acids raise the level of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol and reduce the HDL cholesterol level. Thus, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The dietary values referring to partial dehydrogenation are nothing but the trans fatty acids.
Thus it is highly crucial to know what oil to use for what purpose…
Refined and unrefined oils:
Unrefined/raw/virgin/extra virgin oils are simply cold compressed oils which are minimal or nil heat-processed. Whereas, refined oils are subjected to high temperature in order to get its texture, and to deodorize them, to make it colourless, and to increase the smoke point. Thus, there are maximum chances of undergoing partial dehydrogenation during the refinery process and becomes a trans fatty acid.
Thus choosing up an oil have a silent and critical role to play with our health and fitness.