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Best oil to use in Indian cooking

Best oil to use in Indian cooking

The best thing about the Indian cooking is the variety of oils available  that define the taste of the specific state. For example the as we move towards north there would be more use of mustard oil which has its own pungent aroma and a definite taste to the cuisine. The east there is good presence of the sesame oil along with some regions using mustard oil. In the western regions we have the use of groundnut oil more prevalent and down south of course the coconut oil which marks its presence in every cuisine.

However through the generations we have sort of forgotten the original taste and flavor of the native oils because of the process of refining. The process of refining removes the health benefits than the filtered counterpart. Do you really remember the last time you have cooked in the original filtered oil? Maybe only at times when you want the authentic taste in the food during functions or parties, but not in day to day cooking? Most of our traditional Indian oils have been replaced with the newer versions to get the maximum health benefits. But is that really required?

Classification of oils

Oils that we use are classified from nutrition point of view based on the fatty acids they contain i.e. the saturated fats(SFA) as found in ghee, butter, white butter, monounsaturated fats (MUFA)d in olive , ground nut, sesame oil, polyunsaturated fats(PUFA) found in sunflower, safflower, rice bran, and trans fats found in hydrogenated fats or vanaspati. According to Indian standards the proportion of SFA:MUFA:PUFA is 1:1.5:1 in the diet to obtain health benefits.

Our body also needs the essential fatty acids (EFA) omega 3 and omega 6 like the ones found in fish oil, almonds, flax seeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds which are not synthesized in the body and have to be available from the food sources. The proportion of Omega 6:3 is 4:1.

How to use these oils to get the maximum health benefits

Any one oil will not give you all the benefits of health and they have to used in combination in such a way that you can maintain the ratio. In our daily cooking, oils like olive, groundnut, sesame can be used in equal proportion with sunflower, rice bran soybean to get this benefit.

At the same time include foods like flax seed, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, almonds in the form of the whole seeds itself or convert to a palatable form like in chutneys or as sprinkles on salads to increase its consumption in the diet. Non vegetarians can include fish at least twice a week in the diet.


However healthy oil is, it finally gives you the highest calorie in the diet i.e 9 kcal/1g of fat or oil. So you have to be careful on the use of it. Healthy oils beyond proportion would definitely be unhealthy. So it does not mean that if you have fried food cooked in your healthy oil you will not experience health problems! The use of oil has to be well balanced with other nutrients in the diet and regular physical activity.

For more details, you can check my youtube video on this topic,-