From left to right: rapeseed oil, extra virgin olive oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, walnut oil
It is roughly since three years that I use several different oils in my kitchen. The most important reason behind this is to maintain a good omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids ratio in my diet and that of my family. I somehow feel that this could be one of the keys to a healthy life. I could be totally wrong and/or research may show after a few years that changing your oils has no effect on your health, good or bad. Or it might so appear that oils are bad altogether. Anyway, until something like this would come up, I’ll continue using different kinds of oils.
What do I use them for and why?
This one has a very low saturated fat content. No choking of arteries here. However, it has a strong smell (like its Indian sibling - the ‘mustard oil’) and can hardly be used raw. I use it mainly in dishes where the strong aroma of the spices or ingredients would never allow the smell of the oil peep its head out.
Extra virgin olive oil:
This one is known as the ‘cardio healthy’ oil, because its extended use maintains arterial elasticity. I use it mainly in non-Indian dishes and salads.
This one is apparently not as healthy as it is made out to be. It has a rather high omega-6 count. I use it only because it has a neutral taste/flavour e.g. while making tadka for dishes like Yoghurt Kadhi, where a smelly oil could interfere with the delicate aroma of the rest of the preparation. I also use it for baking for the same reason.
This one is for the sake of authenticity in Chinese dishes. This one too has healthy properties, but I don’t exactly know which.
I like the flavour of it in salads. Anyway, it’s not advisable to heat it because it then tends to turn bitter.
Apart from these, I used to use coconut oil in India, mainly in Konkani dishes. I know it has a high saturated fat content, but it also has a better omega-3 count, which arrests the production of cancer-causing free radicals. Ghee, too, has these properties and that’s why it is advisable to consume it in small quantities regularly.
Now that I am writing this here that I realize that it all sounds too technical. However, it has become a way of life for me. I do the things mentioned above without thinking about them consciously.
Which oils do you use? I would love it, if you wrote it in your comments or published a post on it on your blog.