By Syed Akbar
Which cooking oil is good for complete health? Though manufacturers of edible oils claim that their particular cooking oil is beneficial to health and is good at controlling cardiac diseases, scientists point out that no single oil has the complete ingredients to keep the body healthy.
A scientific study conducted by the Hyderabad-based National Institute of Nutrition revealed that a blend of vegetable oils will improve the functioning of the heart, reduce the risk of blocked arteries, fight infections like HIV, TB, prevent cancers and improve complexion by preventing wrinkle formation. Every vegetable oil has its own benefits on health and when they are blended the overall effect is far greater than on single oil.
The NIN carried out the study for a period of eight month on several households by supplying cooking oils in different proportions. The study showed that use of blended oils containing 30 to 35 per cent linoleic acid and four per cent alpha- linolenic acid improved poly unsaturated fatty acid status by 200 to 300 per cent in plasma and platelet membrane phospholipids.
According to Dr B Seshikeran, director of NIN, the recommended oil combination for optimal health benefits should be three portions of groundnut or sesame oil with one portion of mustard oil, two portions of groundnut or sesame oil and one portion of canola oil, two portions of groundnut or sesame oil with one portion of soyabean oil, Palmolein and soyabean in equal proportions or safflower, palmolein and mustard oils in equal quantities.
One may blend the oils in these proportions and use it in the kitchen. Alternatively, if a family consumes four kgs of cooking oil a month, it can use three kgs of groundnut or sesame oil and one kg of mustard oil.
Dr Seshikeran points out that oils are the most important single dietary component responsible for Coronary heart diseases. Excess intake has been linked to increase in risk of CHD as the type of fat one consumes has major role in determining the risk than total fat in the diet. The best combination should be polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) which includes n-6 PUFA and n-3 PUFA. Groundnut, soyabean, palmolein, safflower and canola oils have these two types of PUFA and hence a blend of oils is important in controlling diseases.
Moreover these oils contain tocopherols in varying proportions. Palm oil and soybean oil are the richest source of tocopherols, which are potent antioxidant and protect against cancer and CHD. Another important substance, tocotrienols is present in large quantities in palm oil and rice bran oil. Tocotrienols have anti cancer properties.
Carotenoids present in these oils are antioxidants and rich source of provitamin A.
Sesame oil lignans are weak antioxidants and have shown to enhance the antioxidant activity of tocopherols / tocotrienols (in vitro and in vivo) in rats in the NIN study. Sesame lignans have also shown to enhance the thermal stability of vegetable oils containing high PUFA.
The NIN study showed that high intake of saturated fatty acids (SFA) increased CHD risk. Replacement of five per cent of energy from saturated fat by unsaturated fat reduce CHD by 42 per cent. SFA increase plasma cholesterol by impairing LDL cholesterol uptake by liver.
Coconut oil has no adverse effects on CHD risk factors and lauric acid, present in coconut oil is antibacterial and antiviral. It inactivates HIV, Herpes simplex virus and cytomegalovirus. It is best suited for treatment of AIDS, Dr Seshikeran points out.
Palm oil fights cancer. Vanaspathi is not recommended as Indian vanaspathi contains high levels of trans fatty acids (15 per cent to 40 per cent). There is a positive relationship between trans fatty acid intake and CHD risk. Reduction of two per cent of calories from trans fat reduces the risk of CHD by 53 per cent.
The presence of sufficient quantities of n-3 PUFA in blended oils helps in normal brain development and visual function. It also helps in the treatment of ulcerative colitis and arthritis.
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