Saturday, April 08, 2006

The oils that I use

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?

Rapeseed oil:
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.

Sunflower oil:
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.

Sesame oil:
This one is for the sake of authenticity in Chinese dishes. This one too has healthy properties, but I don’t exactly know which.

Walnut oil:
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.


Anonymous said...

hey, that was really useful info!! which oil do you think is best suited for frying puris?

Vaishali said...

Well, Anon, I hardly ever deep-fry. Less than once a year. But then if you must, I would recommend coconut oil as it is one of those with the highest smoking point, which means it does not disintegrate at very high temperatures.

Ashwini said...

I was going to write about this but dont when I will. Rice bran oil has been found to be one of the good oils where LDLs is concerned and has a high smoking point so its perfect for Indian/ Chinese cooking

Vaishali said...

Thanks for dropping by, Ashwini. I had heard about rice bran oil, but never really remembered it whenever I would buy oils at the supermarket. I should check it out next time.

Meeta said...

Hi Vaishali,

Great post!
I mostly use extra virgin olive oil from Liguria in Italy. We were there last summer and the place where we were staying produced their own oil. I get them to send me a few bottles every now and then as it is the best I have ever tasted. The olive orchards grow right next to the sea and you can taste the summer in this oil .... no joke, seriously!!
I also use organic rape seed oil and organic thistle (in German that's Distel) oil. I used to use sunflower oil but as you mentioned it's not all that it is cut to to be.

By the way Vaishali, I am really glad you enjoyed my Italian Veggies and the Garlic potato salad over the weekend ;-). Maybe you might nominate the Italian vegetables as your favorite in My Dhaba's Virtual Cooking Competition. The public poll starts tomorrow!

Lakshmi said...

you have been tagged.

Vaishali said...

Meeta, olive oil straight from the that's something exciting. I know where I have to go for our next holiday now.
Sure I'll vote for your entry at My Dhaba's VCC. And maybe you can vote for mine!

Lakshmi, what have I been tagged for?

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