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Which is the best cooking oil?

A very common question that comes our way is Which is the best cooking oil? There is no one word answer to this question that groundnut oil is best or olive oil is best. Different oils have different qualities and usability. Let's understand each one of them.

Groundnut Oil : Groundnut oil is a good combination of FATS, it has both MUFA (48%) and PUFA (34%) and is low in saturated FAT (18%) too. It works well with Indian cooking and is a great source of vitamin E which acts as anti-oxidant and protects skin from acne/ scar. Phytosterols present in Groundnut oil are heart friendly. Another advantage is its smoking point is also high about 450°F. It has a likable mild nutty flavor.

Seasame Oil : It has equal content of MUFA (5.4, 41%) and PUFA (5.6, 44%). Has antioxidants, zinc and copper. Reduces inflammation and has a high smoking point too (350-400°F) hence good for frying and sauteing. It too has a nutty flavor.

Mustard Oil : It is derived from mustard seeds. It is a source of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. It has ideal ratio of both and reduces heart complications as it decreases cholesterol levels with glucosinolate - an anti microbial ingredient that protects from infections. Per 100 gms has 59 gms of MUFA, 20 gms of PUFA and 11 gms of saturated FATS.

IMPORTANT : Mustard oil has 42 - 47% of erusic acid, which based on studies on animals appear to have toxic effects at high dosage while no negative effects on humans have been documented. It's banned in US for cooking except for ones with low erutic content. Studies have been conducted which found mustard oil having protective effect on heart and outweighed the harm of erusic acid.

Olive Oil : Great for health but not suitable for Indian cooking. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is known to have MUFA of 78%, PUFA of 8% and saturated FAT of 14%. It is high in anti oxidants. It prevents oxidation of LDL cholesterol so that it does not get collected in arterial walls.

Almond Oil : Almond oil has high MUFA and is excellent source of Vitamin E. It slows ageing process and reduces heart diseases. Most commonly used in salads and dips.

Avocado Oil : Avocado Oil has 78% MUFA, 31% PUFA and has a 400°F smoking point which makes it suitable for sauteing, grilling and roasting too. It has good Vitamin E and can also be used in salad dressings. It's expensive and difficult to find in the market.

Soyabean Oil : Highly refined ones are available in market which is not advised although fortified with vitamins.

Canola Oil : Highly refined and hexane gas is also used in refining process. Although it is the healthiest oil known as it is high in Omega 3 and has highest smoking point. Choose organic canola oil where hexane gas is not used for refining.

Ricebran Oil : Ricebran oil has high smoking point along with good quantity of anti oxidants and vitamin E (oryzanol) but again look for physically extracted version rather than a chemically extracted one.

Sunflower Oil : Another very good oil is sunflower where PUFA is 72% and MUFA is 16%. It fights free radicals and also has a high smoking point of 450°F.

So the conclusion is there is no exact answer to Which is the best cooking oil? as it depends on the usage, availability, extraction process and various other factors. Hence, one must understand each one of them and take a knowledgeable decision on which cooking oil he/ she should use.

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