Health Wizard

I have heard of blended whiskeys. But this was the first time I was hearing of blended oils.The packet claimed that it’s an olive oil and then when I looked closely, it read blended oil. In another case, the photo on the oil bottle shows peanuts and it says peanut oil, and then in a small font in a corner it says that it has sunflower oil too. It’s all becoming utterly confusing and with newer oils slipping onto grocery shelves, how on earth does one decide what to pick up.

In India, since time immemorial, the oil you use in your kitchen is largely dependent on where you come from. In Kerala, it’s coconut oil, in Andhra and Rajasthan, it’s sesame oil, in the east and north they use mustard oil and in central India and Gujarat groundnut oil is used. Different cultures eat differently and the type of oil fits beautifully into the food landscape of that region.

But all that changed in the 80′s with the scare of cholesterol and heart disease. Overnight ghee got a bad name and we were told that we should avoid transfats and sunflower oil became popular. That was in the 90′s.But today it’s an altogether different story. You have new types of oil spilling across the grocery shelves from around the world and each new bottle label brings with it a new health hope. (More: Read your labels – Top 10 things to look out for)

One of the most important thing to keep in mind is – that oil behaves differently when heated, it changes texture, color, taste as well as it’s nutritional properties. When the oil reaches its smoking point, a lot of the nutrients are destroyed and it can sometimes potentially form harmful compounds. Also, different oils have varying amounts of fats – Polyunsaturated, Monounsaturated and Saturated fats.

(Read my article on Good fats and Bad fats)

When I asked India’s leading nutritionist, Dr. Shikha Sharma how much oil should we consume, she said that the total quantity of oil consumption should not cross 2 teaspoons per person per day. That’s as far as quantity goes, but what about the quality. Here’s a look at various oils and why they are not created equal

Posted By Seema Chandra

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