The Big “Fat” Truth – Cooking Without Oil

What’s the first thing you think of doing when you commit getting fit and healthy? Either begin some form of exercise or start eating healthy or maybe both. For most, eating healthy means reducing fats from your diet because it is this diet that can change your life and improve your health.

Cooking without oil might seem mind-boggling to some, especially when it comes to Indian cooking. Many miss the ‘tar tar’ of their tadka, while others just can’t seem to move beyond the idea of not using that drizzle of cooking oil or plopping a spoonful of ghee on already cooked food.

The truth about fats

The diet in India seems to be an oily affair because cooking without oil is inevitable. The traditional Indian concept of using oil and ghee usage has been passed on for generations as a “necessity” in cooking. And now, with so much conflicting information floating around, it becomes difficult and confusing to decide which oil is best suited for you and the health of your family.

Let’s state facts first and do a little learning to distinguish the different types of fats in food. According to the British Heart Foundation, there are four types of fats – monosaturated, polysaturated, saturated and trans fats. Not all fats are bad for our health and choosing the right fats can make a big difference! Rather than adopting a low-fat diet, it is more important to focus on eating beneficial “good” fats and avoiding harmful “bad” fats.

  • Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the “good” fats providing essential fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins and help lower disease risks;
  • Trans fats are the “bad” fats and are associated with increase disease risk;
  • Saturated fats also impact health negatively, particularly if not consumed in moderation; though they are not as bad as trans fats.

Types of fats

Image Source: British Heart Foundation

Cooking oils can turn toxic

We often tend to hear our elders say, let the oil get hot well and then give the tadka. Soon after, you get another question did you hear the tadka sizzle?

Little do they know that every cooking oil has a smoke point – a certain temperature at which the oil turns toxic and can be harmful to your health.When you cook at a high temperature you don’t want the cooking oil that is stable to turn rancid. The most important factor that determines resistance to oxidization and rancidification both at high and low degree is the relative degree of saturation of fatty acids in them.

While cooking on high temperatures it is necessary for one to select an oil that has a high smoke point. If you are cooking on a low flame or just adding the oil to your salad as dressing you should choose an oil with a higher Omega-3 fatty acids they promote healthy cells and decrease stroke and heart attack risk.

The good nutrients like vitamins, phytochemicals and fibre that sources of cooking oils originally offer, are stripped away due to heavy processing with chemical solvents, steamers, neutralizers, de-waxers, bleach and deodorizers before they end up in the bottle. This turns cooking oil into concentrated calories.

Ghee (also known as clarified butter) is a big part of traditional Indian diets. While many do consider it to be a healthier medium for cooking (as it cannot be smoked easily), it is very high in saturated fat and also known to be high in palmitic acid, which is artery clogging and could increase cholesterol levels and the risks associated with heart diseases. And needless to say, most of us have heard of or used ‘vegetable ghee’ (vanaspati/ dalda). This form contains trans-fats which are a complete no-no for your health.

So why do we use cooking oil then? Because it makes food taste good! (really good!) But the real answer is even more surprising – it is not your food but your cookware that needs the oil. The beautiful flavours of your meals come from the spices and ingredients used to prepare your meals.

Cooking without oil is actually easier than it sounds

Ever wonder where vegetable oil comes from? Cooking does not require oil, our cookware does! Vegetables and meats are functional products; their natural components broth and water present make the cooking process happen without adding additional oil. To absorb maximum nutrients from your cooked meals, cooking vegetables as a whole has the greatest effect because it utilizes the natural oil content in them.

So what’s the first thing you will think of when choosing a healthier lifestyle?

Begin an exercise regime, cut fats from your diet and change your cookware.

Curious about which cookware to use? Read ‘Why Royal Prestige’ to know more.

Resources:

https://jonbarron.org/diet-and-nutrition/

https://www.bhf.org.uk/

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