Traditional Cooking oils vs Modern Cooking oils: Which is better ?


Indian food is known for its diversity. Generally, dishes are cooked according to the flavor and cooking pattern of a particular region, in that cooking oil is very essential for each and every dishes starting from the preparation of dosa, roti, poori, khichdi, desserts to sambar, rasam, sabzis for tempering which gives taste and aroma. Hence, Cooking oil forms an integral part of the Indian diet. However, choosing the right kind of oil is very important. Since it not only makes a huge impact on the nutritional value of our food but also keeps us healthy.

What is oil? Oils are made of fats. Some are better than others. There are two types of fats namely Unsaturated fats and Saturated fats. Unsaturated fats like monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are healthy fats that we can find in both traditional cooking oils such as sesame oil which is commonly known as gingelly oil, rice bran oil, mustard oil and modern cooking oils such as olive oil which has been originated in the Mediterranean region of Europe, refined sunflower oil. Saturated fats are good for one’s health to some extent that can be found in traditional cooking oils like coconut oil and modern cooking oils like palm oil. Why Modern cooking oil? In spite of both traditional and modern cooking oils having both the same unsaturated and saturated fats, why do people prefer modern cooking oil rather than the traditional one? Is it economical? Of course, some are economical but most of them are too expensive or Does it have a good health impact than the locally available oil? Then what would be the prime reason? Well, it is totally distinctive marketing induced by the non-native edible oil manufacturers and oilseed producers to our local consumers. Today, most of the cooking oils which are commonly used by us for daily cooking come from overseas, like sunflower oil from Ukraine and Russia, Palm oil from Malaysia and Indonesia, Olive oil from the Mediterranean region of Europe. But nowadays we have started to reduce the usage of our indigenous cooking oil like rice bran oil, coconut oil, gingelly oil which originated from South India, mustard oil from Northern India. Traditional cooking oils vs Modern cooking oils: In fact, both commonly used modern cooking oils and traditional cooking oils have the same impacts mostly. Say, both coconut oil and palm oil have the same saturated fats, then why do we have to go for palm oil? Likewise, both gingelly oil and olive oil have the same amount of monounsaturated fats. Both have antioxidants that can reduce lipids in our blood and soothe our skin. Other than that, it also commonly has other beneficial attributes like Vitamin E, K, Iron, Potassium, and squalene, then why do many doctors, nutritionists, dietitians, cooking experts recommend olive oil rather than gingelly oil? Similarly, for the most commonly used cooking oil which is none other than sunflower oil and rice bran oil. Both the oils are low in saturated fatty acids and rich in unsaturated fatty acids which make them ideal for people with heart disease and high blood cholesterol levels. Both the oils are rich in Vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant that helps us to stay young and healthy. These oils also help in reducing the deposition of bad cholesterol on the walls of arteries and prevent diseases like atherosclerosis. Both oils have the same high smoke points, then why do we prefer sunflower oil the most? Well, yes it's after all, it is completely based on intensive marketing strategy done by the foreign edible oil manufacturers and promotions done by most of the doctors, nutritionists, dietitians, celebrity chefs, cine models who are commissioned by these oil manufacturers. Promotion of olive oil, why? Recently, many edible oil manufacturers from both local and overseas were promoting olive oil. Do you know why? Since India is home to 54.5 millions of Cardiovascular diseases. So the oil producers prefer to promote olive oil in our country widely. Dinesh Agarwal, CEO of Dhara, a market brand in India for locally produced edible oils said that the olive oil market is seeing 40% growth annually. It is very vivid that the oil manufacturers promote olive oil based on the increase of heart disease patients in India which fetch them to generate more revenues. Although many researchers have proven that olive oil is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, has a large number of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, I also agree with them, but I personally believe that these properties are also present in our traditional cooking oils. Today, many European countries have shifted to using gingelly oil for dressing their salads, for making dips, rice bran oil for cooking veggies. But we are using olive oil for dressing the salads. Many star hotel chefs in our country prefer to cook with olive oil. The good impact of our traditional cooking oil, Coconut oil: In the early 70’s research, many researchers claimed that coconut oil is bad for our health since it contains saturated fat in the form of molecules called Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) which has been linked with heart diseases. But recent studies done by Harvard University suggest that saturated fat in coconut oil actually helps to raise our good HDL cholesterol. These MCTs are also quickly metabolized and turned into energy which means less stored fat and some research done by the school of diabetics and human nutrition, McGill University, Canada suggests that coconut oil may be superior for weight loss. They also suggest that coconut oil’s fat profile may also help to prevent or treat Alzheimer disease. The smoking point of coconut oil is relatively higher than olive oil, palm oil, and sunflower oil. The coconut oil can be heated up to 350 F whereas if you heat olive oil, palm oil, sunflower oil up to 250 F itself, it will become carcinogenic which potentially leads to cause cancer. In recent years, coconut oil has become more popular in Europe and the USA culinary. They widely using coconut oil for cooking, baking and also for skin and hair care. But here, Palm oil is used for baking and deep-frying, sunflower oil for major cooking purposes, and reduced using coconut oil for cooking rather than for skin and hair care. The Bottom lines : To sum up, whatever oils are available in our market are robust for our health if we consume responsibly. But if we abuse more, it becomes fiend to our health. I strongly suggest that if you consume our traditional cooking oils which are locally available near to you, it helps you to boost your immune system and keeps you fit and healthy. As it was indigenous to us, earlier it was used by our ancestors which made them stay healthy and live longer. So it is the one which suits our immune system. I strongly recommend you to prefer cold-pressed oils. Try to avoid refined oil because they are processed and they are downright dangerous to your health as it gets easily degraded. The government must reduce the import of palm oil, olive oil, and sunflower oil from the foreign oil manufacturers and oilseed producers. Instead, they must take initiatives to promote and increase the production of traditional cooking oils which helps to increase more revenue and profits for the local oil manufacturers which further helps to boost and revive our local economy and also helps to increase our farmers turnover. So support local products. Support the local economy. Support our farmers. Stay fit and stay healthy !!! Article by Ajay Viggnesh U

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