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Eat Local

Many nutritionists, dieticians and doctors believe that you should predominantly use fruits, nuts, vegetables, grains, oils and ingredients that have traditionally been available in your region for thousands of years. The human body gradually makes these a part of its metabolism and derives significant health benefits from such ingredients. The introduction of an “alien” ingredient may not deliver the same health benefits that it delivers in the region of its origin.

This is why well-known cardiologist Dr S. C. Manchanda is disdainful of the olive oil fad. He points out that while olive oil is indeed a healthy cooking medium, it is effective in Mediterranean climates, in Mediterranean cuisines (which use lots of red meat, seafood, nuts, berries, beans, yogurt, etc.) and in conjunction with a Mediterranean lifestyle which involves walking long distances in hilly terrain. Olive oil does not work in the Indian culinary milieu. This oil has a low smoking point which makes it unsuitable for Indian cooking. Moreover, many of the nutrients in olive oil degrade during the high heat and multistage cooking processes that typify Indian dishes. That’s why Dr Manchanda does not approve of an “alien” cooking medium like olive oil being used in India.

Experts like Dr Manchanda are strongly in favour of traditional Indian oils like cold-pressed Mustard Oil and Desi Ghee. Mustard Oil was first cultivated in the Himalayan foothills more than 5,000 years ago and became the primary cooking medium in north India. Across thousands of years, the local population got physically acclimatized and accustomed to the oil, making it an integral part of their dietary habits. Substituting an imported ingredient (like olive oil) in place of Mustard Oil would be a retrograde step because the health benefits of Mustard Oil would be removed and no health benefits would be derived from the new oil.

That is why it is so important to make local choices while selecting foods and ingredients. And when it comes to oil, choose Mustard Oil because it’s innately Indian and has been around for thousands of years.

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