Are you confused about which oil to use? Read this before deciding

Photo: Shutterstock/Valentina_G

How much oil should you consume in a day? Which is the healthiest oil for frying? What about as a salad dressing? Do you often asks these questions? With markets offering many a options, choosing the right oil for the right purpose has become a tricky affair. Well, let us help you out there.

Even though coconut oil is still the most preferred oil to cook in Kerala, people are open to try other oils too. While some are confused whether to choose olive oil or canola oil to fry others aren’t sure about peanut oil or sesame oil. There are conflicting reports about the health benefits of these oils too. Moreover, the advertisements of the brands lure the consumers with attractive promises of low cholesterol and high amount of omega 3 fatty acids that protects the heart. The low fat/low carb diet has been trending these days. Fats are essential for the human body as they provide the calories that are required for a day and provides nutrients too.

While using oils, notice the changes that happen to it when heated. The colour, nutrient quality and the smell changes when oils are heated. When the oil reaches smoking point, lots of nutrients are lost and produces many components that are harmful to the body. Besides, the amount of fats contained in each oil too is different.

Coconut oil

It was believed that coconut oil could cause serious health issues. However, the latest studies show that consuming coconut oil is healthy. It is loaded with saturated fatty acids and vitamins E and K. Moreover, coconut oil could be heated to a high temperature without causing any harmful effects.

The power of virgin coconut oil.
Representative image: IANS

Olive oil

This is fairly recent entrant into our pantries. Olive oil is usually used as a salad dressing or light sautéing without heating it too much. It cannot be used for frying as too much heat would change its taste and flavour.

Photo: Shutterstock/Marian Weyo

Mustard oil

It is not popular in Kerala due to its strong flavour and smell. Mustard oil is mostly used in North India and in Bengal. The strong smell could be reduced by heating it up to the smoking point. Even though mustard oil has a strong smell, it is known for its amazing health benefits. Besides omega 3 fatty acids, mustard oil contains lots if mono saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids that are beneficial for health.

Sesame oil

It is one of the best oils that is available in the market. Sesame oil could be used as a salad dressing or for frying or sautéing. Moreover it contains magnesium, copper, calcium, iron and vitamin B6.

Peanut oil

It is a storehouse of mono saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Peanut oil is excellent for cooking as it has low amount of “bad” fat.

Italian Cuisine: Hands putting small breaded fish (anchovies, sardines, small cod) to fry in olive oil in a pan.

Canola oil

It is a new entrant in the market. Canola oil is one of the healthiest oils as it contains less bad fat. Besides, it contains lots of monounsaturated omega 3 fatty acids.

Sunflower oil

It is loaded with vitamin E. Besides, sunflower oil contains monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. It is excellent for frying as the nutrients would be lost even if it is heated to high temperature.

Photo: Shutterstock/rustamank

Bran oil

The oryzanol in bran oil can reduce the cholesterol. It contains lots of monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat in medium quantity.


It is considered the most dangerous. However, ghee can be consumed in small amounts. The saturated fat in ghee reduces the glucose levels and removes the fat that has been deposited in the body.

Olive oil is best to cook eggs and pasta. It could be used as a delicious salad dressing too. Meanwhile, sunflower oil could be used for deep frying food items. Try cooking Chinese and Thai dishes with sesame oil. Meanwhile, bran oil and canola oil could be used for traditional dishes. Nutritionists say that a healthy person do not require more than 2 tbsp oil in a day. 20% saturated (ghee, coconut oil), 30% polyunsaturated (soy, peanut, bran oil) and 50% monounsaturated (olive, canola and sunflower oil) is the right proportion in which various oils can be included in your cooking. Oils from cashews and other oil seeds too could be used.  

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