Which Cooking Oil is the best for Indian Cooking

Which Cooking Oil is the best for Indian Cooking

Hey there! So, let's talk about cooking oil and its role in Indian dishes. You know, it's a big deal in Indian cooking, deeply woven into their culinary traditions. But with all the social media and telemarketing stuff, we're bombarded with tons of edible oil options, each claiming to be super healthy. It can be confusing, right?

Especially in India, where our cooking methods are quite distinct from those in the West, choosing the right oil becomes even more important.

So, let's break it down and understand the science behind these oils.

Science behind these Cooking oils

You see, edible oils contain different types of fatty acids, and these little guys play various roles in our body's metabolism. It's like they have their own jobs! So, we can group these fatty acids into three main classes:

let's dive into the world of oils and ghee! You know, there are three types of fats you'll find in them:

  1. Saturated Fatty Acids (SFA): These guys are solid at room temperature. They have something called Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) that our body uses right away instead of storing as fat. Ghee and butter are high in SFA and recent studies show they have some nourishing benefits. But remember, moderation is key! Too much of these fats can mess with your weight. Oh, and coconut oil has saturated fats too!
  1. Poly-Unsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA): These ones are liquid at room temperature. Oils rich in PUFA have more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3. Now, omega-6 can lower both "good" and "bad" cholesterol, but it might not be so great for the arteries. And PUFA oils are a bit less stable, which could lead to inflammation.
  1. Mono-Unsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA): These are also liquid at room temperature. MUFA is the good guy! It helps lower the "bad" cholesterol (LDL) and boosts the "good" cholesterol (HDL) in our blood. That's awesome for our hearts! Oils like olive oil, canola oil, avocado oil, and peanut oil (to some extent) are rich in MUFA. So, adding them to your diet is a heart-healthy choice.

Oh, and there's more! Edible oils are packed with antioxidants like tocopherols, oryzanol, carotenoids, tocotrienols, phytosterols, and other nutrients. Both PUFA and MUFA, when used wisely and as replacements for saturated or trans fats, can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Best cooking oil options in India for 2023! 

best cooking oil

How healthy our cooking oil really is?

It's crazy how many folks these days lean towards those refined products, like refined edible oil, salt, sugar, and all that jazz. But you know what? We'll zoom in on cooking oil and get the scoop on what's healthy.

In Eastern India, it's like a tradition to use mustard oil in almost every household. And let me tell you, that aroma is something else! You can literally smell it as you stroll through the neighborhood. Meanwhile, in other parts of India, people have their own favorites - groundnut oil, coconut oil, sesame oil - so many choices!

But here's the deal, we need to assess how healthy our cooking oil really is. Because we want to cook up a storm and still take care of our health, right? So, let's get cracking and find the best cooking oil for a healthier 2023! 


The Story of Refined Oil – How Refined Oil Came into Indian Kitchens

Oh, the story of refined oil in Indian kitchens is quite a rollercoaster ride! You see, as India's economy opened up to the world, Western influence brought in the concept of using refined oils like sunflower and rice bran oil.

Back then, newspapers and magazines were all about how traditional desi oils were a big no-no. They claimed these oils were unhealthy with all that fat and cholesterol, which could lead to heart problems. They even backed it up with studies where rats got heart issues after munching on mustard oil.

So, of course, these study results were splashed all over the national and regional papers, and bam! Refined oils were the new cool thing, and desi oils were suddenly "out."

Companies jumped on the bandwagon and invested crazy amounts in advertising to make us believe refined oils were healthier. Those ads were everywhere, and they kept hammering the message until it felt like the truth. And guess what? We fell for it, hook, line, and sinker.

As a result, the good ol' traditional kachhi ghani mustard oil slowly faded away from kitchen shelves, replaced by refined sunflower oil. Our local stores couldn't ignore the demand, so they started stocking more of the refined stuff and just keeping a tiny corner for those rare kachhi ghani oil enthusiasts.

Oh, how times change, right? It's funny how trends and marketing can shape what we put in our kitchens! 


The Issue with Refined Oil and Why It is Bad for Your Health

A 1-liter bottle of refined sunflower oil won't burn a hole in your pocket, costing around ₹150, depending on the brand. But here's the kicker - the same volume of that good ol' kachhi ghani mustard oil can set you back over ₹200. Yep, traditional Indian cooking oil is like 50% more expensive!

But hold on a sec, before you go for the cheaper option, there's something you need to know. Refined oils may save you a few bucks, but they come with their own health baggage. Yeah, they've got some concerning stuff going on. So, let's dive into why refined oil might not be the best pick for your health.


Understanding Heated vs. Cold Pressed Oil Extraction

Alright, let's dig into the nitty-gritty of oil extraction, my friend! There are two main ways oil is produced globally - heated and cold pressed. 

In the heated method, they crank up the temperatures to get that oil out of the seeds. It involves breaking down the seeds and later using chemicals to purify and bleach the oil. Sure, it gives you more oil, but the quality takes a hit, making it not so great for us humans to consume. Not cool, right?

Now, here's the cooler way - cold pressed method! No, they don't make the oil chilly, but they use pressure to extract it from the seeds without much or any heat involved. It might result in less oil, but guess what? The quality is top-notch! That's why cold pressed cooking oil gets a big thumbs up for being way healthier.

So, remember, it's not just about the quantity, but the quality matters a whole lot when it comes to the oils we use in our kitchen. Keep it cool, go cold pressed

Alright, let's dive into the sizzling topic of the "smoke point" and why it's a big deal!

Understanding the Smoke Point and its Importance

So, every oil has its limits, and if you crank up the heat beyond that, things get messy. The oil starts breaking down and releases all sorts of nasty chemicals into your food. Not good for your taste buds or your tummy, right?

Now, in India, we love our cooking hot, especially when it comes to deep frying. That means the oil temperature can go way above 170°C! But here's the thing - certain oils, especially the refined ones with high PUFA, are like ticking time bombs when exposed to such heat. They break down into toxic stuff like free radicals, transfats, and malondialdehyde. Yikes! Those chemicals are like little troublemakers, potentially causing mutations and heart issues.

And here's another twist - we have this habit of reusing the same oil for frying. But guess what? That's a big no-no! Repeated frying damages the oil even more and creates more toxic compounds that are out to get your heart. Not cool!

So, what's the best oil for Indian cooking then? Coconut oil (the virgin kind rocks), mustard oil, groundnut oil, or good ol' pure desi ghee are your go-to buddies. And hey, while olive oil is super healthy, it's better for salads and mild sautéing, not for deep frying - which is kinda like our Indian cooking signature move!


Types of cooking Oils best for Indian Cooking

Types of cooking Oils

  • Coconut oil

Let's talk about the mighty coconut oil! So, for a while, people thought coconut oil was bad news for our hearts, but hold on! Recent research has put it back in the spotlight, and it's got some pretty cool health benefits.

Now, here's the thing - coconut oil is 92% saturated fats, but not all fats are created equal. It's got these awesome healthy fats called Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) that are like superheroes for our bodies. They can lower the "bad" cholesterol (LDL), boost the "good" cholesterol (HDL), and even keep our gut happy.

But wait, don't go crazy with it! Like all good things, moderation is key. So, using coconut oil in your cooking is a smart move, but maybe not for deep-frying all those starters and snacks. Keep it in check, and coconut oil will be your health ally!

If you want to dive deeper into all the fantastic benefits of coconut oil, go ahead and read up on it! 

  • Sesame Oil:

This oil brings a great balance of PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids) and MUFA (monounsaturated fatty acids), plus a dash of SFA (saturated fatty acids). And guess what? It even packs some omega-3 fatty acids! But here's the thing - sesame oil has a bit more omega-6 fatty acids compared to other cooking oils.

Now, when it comes to cooking, sesame oil isn't the star of the show. It's not widely used for regular cooking, but you know where it shines? In those mouthwatering pickles of Indian cuisine! Yes, you'll often find sesame oil adding its unique flavor to those yummy pickles we all love.

So, sesame oil may not be the everyday hero in our cooking, but it sure knows how to steal the spotlight in pickles! Let's give it a round of applause for its tasty contribution to Indian culinary delights! 

  • Kachi Ghani Mustard Oil - The Ideal Cooking Oil for Frying in India

Let's talk about the superstar of Indian cooking oils - Kachi Ghani Mustard Oil! Desi ghee is amazing, but not everyone can use it daily. That's where mustard oil comes to the rescue, especially the kachi ghani variety. It's like a shining knight for Indian cuisine, offering loads of benefits.

What makes kachi ghani mustard oil so special? Well, first of all, it's non-refined and made through a cold-pressed process, so no harmful chemicals involved! That's a big win for our health. Plus, it's the perfect choice for frying and cooking curries, and you know why? Because the climatic conditions in India just love mustard oil!

Here's the best part - kachi ghani mustard oil is a heart-healthy superhero! It's a rich source of beneficial monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), which are like magic for our hearts. So, if you're looking out for your heart, mustard oil has got your back!

And guess what? You don't need to empty your wallet to make the switch to kachi ghani mustard oil. It's quite affordable, making it accessible to everyone. You can use it for sautéing, frying, and whipping up delicious curries without a worry!

So, if you want a cooking oil that's not just healthy but also budget-friendly, give kachi ghani yellow and black mustard oil a try. It's the perfect match for your Indian kitchen! 

  • Peanut Oil:

Let's talk about the golden gem of cooking oils - peanut oil! It's got something special up its sleeve, with the highest amount of MUFA (monounsaturated fatty acids) among all the cooking oils, making up around 49% of its goodness. But wait, there's more! The remaining 51% is a mix of PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids) and SFA (saturated fatty acids). It's a popular choice in many households across western India, and for a good reason!

When it comes to picking the right cooking oil, peanut oil ranks pretty high, just after avocado oil and coconut oil - both superstars in their own right. So, you know you're making a smart choice by going for peanut oil.

But hey, here's the thing to keep in mind - while peanut oil is packed with MUFA, it's also got a higher amount of omega-6 fatty acids compared to other oils that are rich in MUFA. So, moderation is key when it comes to using peanut oil.


Did you know that blending oils can offer significant benefits? 

Absolutely, blending oils can be a game-changer for our health! It's essential to strike the right balance of fatty acids in our diet, aiming for a PUFA / SFA scale of 0.81-1.0 and a balanced ratio of linoleic and Alpha-linolenic Acid (5-10). But here's the thing - no single oil can provide that perfect balance. That's where blending comes to the rescue!

When we mix two or more oils, we get the best of both worlds. Blending oils not only improves their efficiency but also gives us the desired balance of fatty acids and antioxidants. It's like a superhero team-up in the world of cooking oils!

Not only does blending make the oils more stable during cooking, but it also has a positive impact on our lipid parameters and inflammatory markers. It's a win-win! For example, a blend of rice bran oil and safflower oil with added antioxidants has shown some fantastic health improvements. Similarly, canola oil alone or mixed with flaxseed oil has been proven to lower serum cholesterol and LDL levels.

So, by using blended oils or mixing different types of oils, we can follow the ideal dietary recommendations without compromising the delicious taste and texture of Indian cooking. It's a simple and effective way to boost our health and well-being. Let's get creative with our cooking oils and enjoy the benefits! 



In Conclusion, when it comes to cooking oils, olive oil takes the crown as the healthiest choice, packed with beneficial MUFA. It's perfect for salads and stir-fries but not the best for high-heat cooking. Avocado oil is excellent too, but it can be pricey for everyday use. On the other hand, coconut oil shines as a viable option despite its high saturated fat content, thanks to those fantastic MCTs.

Next in line is peanut oil, a favorable choice with more MUFA than PUFA, making it sturdy for high-heat cooking without losing its nutritional value. Sesame oil, with an equal balance of MUFA and PUFA, needs more research to fully understand its impact.

Now, for those not-so-healthy oils like sunflower, corn, and vegetable oils, it's best to steer clear if you're aiming for good health.

And remember, the amount of healthy oils and ghee you need daily depends on factors like age, lifestyle, and physical activity. Generally, including 2 to 3 teaspoons of fats in your diet, along with a balanced meal and regular exercise, is a recipe for a healthy lifestyle. So, let's make smart choices and enjoy the goodness of these cooking oils for a healthier, happier life! 

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