Oils – Good or Bad
With the ever- growing health conscious population of this era, we need to address certain issues that have been portrayed to have a deep impact on our fitness levels. Yes, we are talking about oils. A wide held idea is that if one has to remain fit they have to slash down their oil intake completely. Mediterranean diet has been gaining a lot of popularity in the recent years. People generally advocate olive oil to be the best suited for maintaining a good health. Olive oil definitely contains good amounts of mono unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), but the affordability factor for a middle class family is to be considered. India as a diverse country provides plenty of options to substitute olive oil. Let us first have a glance on the different types of cooking oils. Oils are composed of fatty acids and glycerol.Depending on the number of double bonds, fatty acids can be classified as:
Saturated- Contains no double bond, usually solid at room temperature and are difficult to digest. They form lumps together which can lead to clots in the blood vessels. Eg: Butter, lard, ghee, cream.
Mono-unsaturated - Contains one double bond, easy to digest, helps to reduce LDL cholesterol. Eg: Olive oil, Palm oil.
Poly-unsaturated- Contains more than one double bond, reduces LDL- cholesterol and increases HDL- cholesterol levels. Eg: Corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, flax seed oil, wheat germ oil.
The essential fatty acids (EFA) are linoleic (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acids (omega-3), which are poly unsaturated fatty acids and can be provided only through diet. They are required for normal brain functioning and various other biological processes. Oils also provide fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K. The importance of oil intake cannot be undermined.
Based on the configuration, unsaturated fatty acids they are divided as cis and trans forms. The naturally occurring vegetable oils are in cis form. In order to increase their storage life, the oils are hydrogenated into their trans forms to produce vanaspathi. Dairy products and meat also contain trans fats. Biscuits, cookies and other bakery products have trans fatty acids as shortening is used. Trans fatty acids are proven to reduce the HDL cholesterol and increase LDL levels in the body. Increased consumption of trans fatty acids are associated with increased risk of cardio vascular disease, insulin resistance and some types of cancer. The consumption of foods containing trans fats should be kept to a minimum.
WHO/FAO (2003) in Diet, nutrition and prevention of chronic diseases has suggested fat intake
Recommended dietary allowance for fat intake
|Fats||Percentage of total energy intake (%)|
|Total fat intake||15-30|
|Saturated fatty acid (SFA)||<10|
|Poly unsaturated fattyAcid (PUFA)||6-10|
|Mono unsaturatedFatty acid (MUFA)||Total fat- (SFA+PUFA)|
|Trans Fatty acid (TFA)||<1|
The ideal ratio of PUFA and SFA is 0.8:1.0. The closest to this is rice bran oil with a ratio of 1.2. Rice bran oil contains oryzanol- a nutraceutical that is proven for cholesterol lowering property. It shows less absorption and is a cost- effective alternative.
For optimum health conditions, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in our daily diet should fall between 5:1 to 10:1 (WHO/FAO, 2003). Soybean and ground nut oil comes well within this range (Sapna and Nirmali, 2009). Therefore, it is advisable to use a blend of oils rather than using a single oil, if we have to meet up the recommendations. The right type of oil should be selected depending upon the individual’s requirements and suitability. As always moderation is the key!!!!!!!!!