5 Healthy fats for cooking

The argument over fats being good or not is never ending. There has been so much against saturated fats, for whatever reasons, that it makes us think twice before eating any of it. But fats are not bad,; they are building blocks for our body. They make us healthier and stronger. 

Many may agree and many may not and there are studies supporting almost all arguments. But my experience says embrace fats but choose wisely. So which are the ones you would want to include in your daily diet. There are so many choices and so much information and misinformation. 

Here is a list of 5 tried and tested healthy fats(cooking oils). Include these in your diet and feel the difference.

 1. Ghee

Ghee is a Indian treasure. Traditionally ghee has been considered sacred and offered to Gods. In India ghee has been used since ancient times for  various purposes;from prayer offerings, healing to cooking.

Ghee is made from simmering butter, which removes milk solids from it and gives a pleasant nutty flavor. Because of this reason casein and lactose are in very low in levels, making it more suitable for dairy sensitive people. This also helps to store ghee longer. Ghee can be stored in airtight container for months.

Ghee is a good source for Indian cooking because of its high smoking point. Ghee has higher smoking point than butter, coconut oil and olive oil, which makes it best for frying or sauteing food.

Ghee is also rich source of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Vitamin A helps fight cancer and strengthens immune system. It is not found in any other edible oil. 

Ghee is rich in butyric acid, a short chain fatty acid. Beneficial intestinal bacteria convert fiber into butyric acid and then use that for energy and intestinal wall support. Ghee helps reduce inflammation and other gut disorders and also has anti-viral properties. Read more here

How to use:

  • Spread over chapatis
  • Put a spoonful over dal or curry
  • Toast Bread
  • Make scrambled eggs or omelet
  • Biryani and Pulao are best made in Ghee
  • Use in making Indian desserts like kheer or halwa
  • If coconut oil is too strong for you, best substitute is Ghee

2. Coconut Oil:

No doubt coconut oil is the gold mine of goodies. Many of Indian delicacies specially in southern India and made only in coconut oil. 

One of the numerous benefits of coconut oil is that it helps stimulate your metabolism thus aiding in weight loss. Coconut oil is very good for heart, skin and hair. It supports our immune system and meatbolism. Read more about coconut oil benefits in this article.  

Which coconut oil to choose:

Refined Coconut Oil – for cooking at high temperatures like, frying and sauteing

Virgin Coconut Oil – This is healthier option than refined coconut oil but is more suited for low temperature cooking and baking

How to use: 

  • Perfect for frying; banana chips in coconut oil 
  • Use in baking
  • Drizzle over chutneys
  • Great for curries
  • As vinaigrette for  salad
  • Basically substitute for any oil

3. Olive Oil

Olive oil is unarguably one of the healthiest fat available.  Olive oil has been the staple in Mediterranean diet which is considered one of the healthiest diets. 

Olive oil, which is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) are considered a healthy dietary fat, as opposed to saturated fats and trans fats. Regular use of olive oil mimimizes risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, stroke, breast cancer, Alzheimer and even depression.

One problem with olive oil is that you have to carefully pick one. There are lot of types of olive oils available in market with are diluted or extracted using cheap oils. Therefor make sure you pick pure extra virgin olive oil.

The best type of olive is extra virgin olive oil. True extra virgin olive oil is rich in phenolic antioxidants , the main reason why (real) olive oil is so beneficial. Read more here. Extra virgin olive is best suited for low temperature cooking upto 180C

How to use: 

  • Olive oil tastes perfect as salad dressing
  • Drizzle over cooked pasta or sauteed vegetables
  • Drizzle over dip specially Hummus,  pesto
  • Use with butter for making eggs
  • Toast bread with olive oil and garlic for great snack
  • Add to the cooked dish for flavor

4. Butter

Butter has been labeled as evil obesity and heart problem causing fat. But more and more studies show how good and delicious butter is. Alton Brown so rightly defended ‘The case of Butter’. I need not to say more after this.

Butter has good fats, vitamins, tastes wonderful and makes everything extra delicious. Butter burns at high temperatures, hence its not good idea to use butter for frying or high temperature cooking. 

How to use: 

  • Use at the end of preparing the dish, this enhances the flavour
  • Mix it with other oil good at high temperature, like heat olive oil and then melt butter in it
  • Use it any where, There is never enough butter

5. Peanut Oil

Peanut oil is cholesterol free and rich in good fats that helps lower cholesterol levels.  Peanut Oil is rich in Vitamin E. Vitamin E is anti oxidant required for maintaining the integrity of cell membrane of mucus membranes and skin by protecting it from harmful oxygen-free radicals. 

Peanut Oil also contains resveratol which has protective function against cancers, heart disease, degenerative nerve disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and viral/fungal infections.

Peanut oil is widely used in Asian cooking because of it’s aromatic sweet flavor and nutty taste. Peanut oil too has a high smoke point, therefore is suited for deep frying, stir frying, sauteing and grilling. Peanut oil is however high caloric oil. 100 gm oil has 884 calorie, so little goes a long way.

How to use: 

  • Deep Frying anything
  • Asian recipes
  • Can be replaced with any other oil

 These are my favorite 5 picks. If i personally have to choose one, I’ll go for Ghee. Ghee is just delicious, adding a spoon to any dish takes it to the new level of flavors. But I also like butter and olive oil and coconut oil and peanut oil too. 

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