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Refined oils are good for the heart and health


Fats are an essential part of the diet and a storehouse of energy, supply essential fatty acids (needed to live) and transport fat soluble vitamins. Besides this, fats are also an important part of diet as they provide a feeling of fullness and satiety, which is needed to regulate appetite. However, excessive amounts or poor quality fats in the diet can cause several problems including obesity, heart disease, cancer, skin and immune problems.Refining of oils includes a number of processes. Native, natural oilseeds are heated to a very high heat (temperatures may be more than 200C) and oil is then extracted through a solvent extraction process. Subsequently the oil is degummed, clarified and deodorized to obtain the so called "LITE" look and taste. This high heat destroys most of the essential fatty acids (the reason why one needs fat), natural vitamins including Vitamin E and antioxidants. Even the lecithin, a fat emulsifier, present in oil is removed and sold separately to the food industry. The oil thus obtained, ripped off its antioxidants tends to become very unstable and prone to rancidity. Therefore, then it is further subjected to a process of hydrogenation to increase its shelf life. This process is seriously harmful to health as it causes formation of "trans fatty acids" which increase risk to coronary artery disease. Vanaspati, reused fried oils and margarines used in bakery products are other sources of hydrogenated fats. It is also known that often solvent extraction process leaves traces of solvent which is cancer causing in the oil. In addition, chemical preservatives are also added to extend shelf life. The net result is a fatty, refined, clear, odorless product with a long shelf life. Unfortunately, such oils have taken up most of the shelf space of grocery stores selling fats. They have almost completely replaced traditional fats used by our ancestors.Cold pressed oils on the other hand are extracted at room temperature without employing high temperatures and chemicals. They retain the natural goodness of the oil. Olive, Mustard, Sesame are cold pressed oils used in traditional households. It is advisable to use organic cold pressed oils wherever possible. Olive oil is not suitable for frying due to its low smoking point.Another important aspect of oil selection is whether it is organic or not. Oil seeds are commonly exposed to several chemical sprays and pesticides like DDT, BHC which are fat soluble. Therefore, oils extracted from them carry significant amounts of pesticide residues. When consumed on a regular basis these residues are known to get deposited in vital organs like liver, kidney and brain and fat tissue. Over a period of time, they can result in what is called cumulative toxicity leading to organ damage and several health problems including cancer, infertility and birth defects. A combination of oils is preferred over a single one to balance the nutritional requirements of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated fats. A prudent choice would be a combination of mustard, sesame and pure ghee in equal proportions. For those who can use olive oil it is advisable to make it a part of cooking media. These oils need not be mixed but different oils could be used in different preparations.Frying in fresh oil in the house occasionally may be done without heating the oil to very high temperatures. Olive oil is not suitable for frying due to its low smoking point. Oil used for more than half an hour should not be reused. Buy small quantities at a time and store oils in dark glass containers away from heat and sunlight. This means that it is advisable to transfer the oil from commercial plastic containers to your own glass containers.For those who have health problems are obese or inactive it is advisable to limit fat intake. However, it is most important to choose the right quality of oil and avoid refined, hydrogenated and reused oils.

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