Vegetable oil, as the very name suggests, is derived from vegetables. But if you thought its use is limited to just cooking, you are quite wrong! Vegetable oil has myriad applications in addition to cooking, and you will be surprised to know that it is also used as an alternative fuel for engines running on diesel!
History and Composition of Vegetable Oil:
Vegetable oils came into use about 5,000 to 6,000 years ago. The very first oils that were extracted from vegetables made use of crude presses and were mostly used for illumination, medication and lubrication. It was only after a few years that people realized the use of these oils as food.
Olive oil was the first vegetable oil used for cooking. Later in the 20th century, with the advent of technology, the use of vegetable oils saw greater significance in cooking and other food related usage. Hydrogenated vegetable oil such as margarine started gaining popularity due to its taste, and was used extensively in the West. While the health hazards of the omega-6 rich hydrogenated oil wasn’t known back in the 1900s, researchers came up with the importance of maintaining a proper omega-6/omega-3 ratio, which seemed to increase prolifically as the use of hydrogenated vegetable oil grew.
With growing health concerns, people started refining the type of food they ate and became increasingly health conscious. There has been a raging debate among health professionals regarding the use of vegetable oil. While some support their use in cooking and believe them to be exceptionally beneficial, there are others who tend to disagree.
Top 10 Benefits of Vegetable Oils:
Vegetable oils like olive oil are rich in Linoleic Acid (LA) that is essential in lowering the risk of heart disease.
Vegetable oils that are rich in omega-3 are excellent when it comes to lowering the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) while keeping the levels of the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) high. HDL is known as the good cholesterol and consumption of hydrogenated vegetable oil which is rich in omega-6 lowers the level of HDL, which is the main reason behind the negative effects of vegetable oils.
People struggling with high cholesterol and blood pressure should consider revising their diet and replace animal fat based oils with vegetable oils.
Use of lighter vegetable oil such as olive oil can largely reduce the risk of blood clotting due to cholesterol.
Linoleic acid which is an omega-6 fatty acid is extremely useful in triggering immune responses and helps develop the brain and muscles. It also helps keep the body active. Going for a vegetable oil that is balanced in the omega-6/omega-3 ratio is hence a good health choice.
Flaxseed oil helps reduce inflammation. It alters the serotonin and dopamine levels which help blood flow to the brain. This, in turn, improves the mental health of the body.
Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid which is known for its anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.
Coconut oil is considered the healthiest oil for consumption. It aids in weight management, helps fight brain atrophy, helps manage diabetes and prevents heart disease.
Sesame oil helps fight ageing as it is rich in healthy fat and antioxidants.
Peanut oil and avocado oil are great for people with heart issues as they are rich in monounsaturated fats.
Nutritional Value of Vegetable Oil:
1 tbsp of flaxseed Oil contains approximately 10 calories and 13 grams of fat and is rich in omega-3 content.
1 tbsp of Canola Oil contains 40 calories of energy and 5 grams of fat. Contains a balanced amount of both omega-3 and omega-6.
Olive oil is generally consumed in ounces. 3.5 ounces of olive oil contain 800 calories of energy and approximately 100 grams of fat. It is rich in vitamin A and K. It also contains a substantial amount of omega-3 and omega-6.
1 tbsp of coconut oil contains 40 calories of energy and 5 grams of fat.
Myths Associated With Vegetable Oils:
1. Myth: Vegetable oil is unhealthy even when consumed in very small quantities.
Fact: This oil, like any other oil, when consumed in moderation, does not pose any health risks.
2. Myth: Vegetable oil is fattening.
Fact: Vegetable oil is no more fattening than any other oil in the market. 90% of vegetable oil is made up of healthy unsaturated fats that are needed for normal body functions.
3. Myth: Vegetable oil has a very high percentage of omega six fatty acids that do more harm than good.