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The Right Oil for Deep-Frying

For several years now, cardiologists have been pointing out that choosing the right cooking oil is very important for a healthy heart – more so in the case of Indian cooking which often involves deep-frying and multiple stages of cooking over an extended period of time.

Dr Udgeath Dhir, Head of Cardiovascular Surgery at Fortis Hospital, Gurugram, says that the right choice begins with avoiding animal fat-based cooking media and selecting plant-based oils instead. The next selection parameter is to filter out oils that are hydrogenated and oils that contain high levels of trans-fats and saturated fats. According to Dr Dhir, these are the worst oils. Common cooking oils in this category include palm oil, margarine, butter and coconut oil.

The ideal oil according to Dr Dhir should have high levels of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA) and Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA). This helps to keep Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL), also known as “bad cholesterol”, under control and to rectify and maintain the balance of triglycerides. Additionally, the oil should be low in Saturated Fatty Acids (SFA). The cooking oil that meets all these parameters is cold-pressed Mustard Oil.

When it comes to deep-frying, Mustard Oil is decisively better than other oils because it has a high smoking point – around 250oC. This means that, not only does Mustard Oil remain stable at high temperatures it also retains all its natural nutrients. Oils with lower smoking points tend to degrade at high temperatures, often releasing harmful toxins in the process. There is another advantage in using Mustard Oil for deep-frying: this oil is proven to be absorbed in very low amounts in the food being deep-fried. You can, therefore, significantly control your oil intake by using Mustard Oil as your primary deep-frying medium.

Indian cooking, especially in culinary styles like Wazwan, Awadhi and Dum Pukht, often requires multiple stages of cooking in which the oil has to remain heated for a prolonged period of time. Here too, the high smoking point of Mustard Oil is a useful attribute. The oil remains stable and safe throughout the cooking process.

So if you are looking for the ideal oil for deep-frying, the choice is clear – it’s Mustard Oil.

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