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Tips for choosing the healthiest cooking oil

Tip 1: Use a mix of vegetable oils for cooking

The healthiest cooking oil in not one but a mixture of cooking oils. Using a mix of oils will help your family get the different fatty acids MUFAs, PUFAs (including omega 3 fats) and SFAs in right amount. To know about these types of fat: Good fats and bad fats

The oil combinations given below are suggested by National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) India. In all these combinations, choose one oil from each cluster. Use these oils in equal quantity over a period, say a month,

For example: in oil combination 1, I would choose rice bran oil and mustard oil and therefore use two Liters of each over a month for cooking at home

Oil combination 1: Oil containing omega 6 fatty acids  +  oil containing both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids

  • Groundnut/rice bran/sesame   +   mustard/canola/soybean oil
  • Sunflower/safflower  +   palmolein  +   mustard/canola/soybean oil

Oil combination 2: Combination of oils containing high omega 6  +  oils containing moderate/low omega 6 FAs

  • Sunflower/safflower   +  olive oil
  • Sunflower/safflower  +   groundnut/sesame/rice bran oil

Oil combination 2 is suitable only for people who eat fish at least twice a week or take omega 3 supplements/rich foods


Tip 2: Some oils have additional health benefits

because of substances they contain in small amounts.

  • Rice bran oil is rich in oryzanol
  • Sesame oil and safflower oils have phytosterols and
  • Extra virgin/virgin olive oil is rich in antioxidants

Tip 3: Do not use Vanaspati or PHVO (Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils) and margarines

because they  contain Trans fatty acids which are worse than SFAs for heart health


Tip 4: Do not use butter or ghee for cooking regularly, choose healthier options

occasionally using them as ‘chhaunk’ in vegetables or dal is alright!

  • Substitutes for ghee in mithai making: use coconut oil/ palm kernel oil/ palm oil
  • Substitute for butter in baking: any vegetable oil with neutral taste: olive, safflower oil

Tip 5: Coconut oil is very high in saturated fatty acids, therefore it should not be used for cooking regularly

Some recent research suggests that the saturated fats in coconut oil are different from those of animal origin ( ghee, butter etc.) and therefore coconut oil may be healthy, but no conclusive evidence is yet available

Also, these benefits are often present in virgin or minimally processed coconut oil only and not in commercially available coconut oil


Tip 6: Mustard oil should not be the only oil used for cooking

since it is high in erucic acid which is known to cause harm to the heart in animal studies (but not in human studies so far)

To find out how much cooking oil to use in a month for your family, use the FWI Family Oil Use Calculator

Tip 7: Avoid deep fried food items. Once in a fortnight is alright, but too much fried food can load up calories and expose to harmful substances. Read more on deep frying : what it does to food

CHECK OUT: Our references for recommendations on diet

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