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Cooking oils: Choose the best

The "ideal" cooking oil should contain a higher amount of the "good" fats (omega-3 and 9), and minimal saturated fats and trans fats. We bring you a detailed insight into what the marketed variety of cooking oil brands contain. Read about what is Good" and what is Bad.

A study conducted by doctors from All India Institute Of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi and Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi compared various parameters in different types of cooking oils like olive oil, canola oil, mustard oil and sunflower oil and the findings were reported in the February 2012 issue of the Journal of Preventive Cardiology. The study shows that mustard oil is the best for your heart. Consumer VOICE has always endorsed Indian good practices. Here is medical study supporting our traditional knowledge and its practice in our day to day life! 


It is the fatty substance that is found in the blood stream and the body cells. Actually, it is an essential substance required for a proper functioning of body especially the brain. Broadly, it is of two types: high density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol and low density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol. 

Saturated Fatty Acids (SFA): 

Saturated Fatty Acids make oils and fats thicker (more solid) and when consumed can elevate the levels of total cholesterol and bad cholesterol. Overall, it can contribute to development of heart diseases. 

Rich sources: Desi Ghee, butter and coconut oil 

Mono Unsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA): 

Metabolically, it is the best type of oils and fats because when consumed lowers bad cholesterol and elevates the good cholesterol levels. 

Rich sources: Olive oil, mustard oil and groundnut oil 

Poly Unsaturated fatty Acids (PUFA): 

It is another type of oils and fats which when consumed lowers the level of bad cholesterol but at the same time can also lower good cholesterol. Rich sources: Safflower oil, sunflower oil and soya bean oil 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids are a family of PUFA, which are considered especially good for health. They are one of the two essential fatty acids, so called because humans cannot manufacture it and must get it from food. Fish oil is a good source of it. All seeds of the Brassica family, including mustard (6-11%), canola /rapeseed (7%) and turnip, have high levels of omega-3 fatty acid. Flax (linseed) oil is the richest source of plant based omega-3 fatty acid (55%). Omega-6 fatty acids: 

Omega-6 Fatty Acids are also 

important for health. They include the essential fatty acid linoleic acid, which is abundant in vegetable oils like corn (60%),cottonseed (50%) and sunflower (50%) oil. 

Omega-6: Omega-3 Ratio 

Both Omega -6 and Omega -3 are essential for proper functioning of body, but they should be present in balanced proportion in the body. Omega-6 and Omega-3 compete for the enzymes that convert them into more biologically active compounds. World Health Organization (WHO) recommends Omega-6: Omega-3 ratio to be 5:4 (1.25:1). 

Mustard oil has low amount of Saturated Fatty Acids (SFA) and high amount of Mono Unsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA) and also Omega-6 : Omega-3 Ratio is 1.2:1 which is near to World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation which is 1.25:1 so mustard oil is best for heart health.

Other important nutrients of cooking oils: 


Oryzanol is an antioxidant found in Rice Bran Oil (RBO) that is used for many alternative herbal therapies. The high antioxidant property of oryzanol has been widely recognized. Studies have shown that it can prevent heart attacks, probably because its effect on cholesterol metabolism; it can reduce plasma cholesterol, reduce cholesterol absorption and decrease early atherosclerosis, inhibit platelet aggregation, and increase fecal bile acid excretion. Oryzanol has also been used to treat nerve imbalance and disorders of menopause. 


They belong to the vitamin E family and are powerful natural antioxidants and are abundantly found in rice bran oil, palm oil, coconut oil and also wheat germ and barley. Their protective benefit lies in the prevention of Cardio Vascular Disease (CAD) and some forms of cancer. 


They are a class of naturally-occurring compounds found in plants that are analogous to cholesterol (function as a structural component to cell membranes). Vegetable and nut oils like wheat germ, sesame, corn, canola and almond oil are rich source of this oil. Cholesterol lowering effects of phytosterols are well known. It has been reported that 2 gram of phytosterols daily was associated with a 10% decrease in bad cholesterol. By virtue of lowering cholesterol it can even reduce the risk of Cardio Vascular Disease (CAD). In addition to supporting cardiovascular health, phytosterols may also reduce the risk of certain cancers. 

Rice Bran Oil (RBO) is perhaps one of the most balanced oils containing a range of fatty acids (47% MUFA, 33% PUFA, and 20% SFA). It is also rich in vitamin E, oryzanol (a powerful antioxidant) which may help prevent heart attacks, and phytosterols (compounds believed to help lower cholesterol absorption), which may provide associated health benefits.


Which is the Right Oil for you?

Supermarket shelves and grocery store stock a vast variety in cooking oil brands. As a result consumers are often confronted with most brands making a host of health claims and their respective benefits and find it difficult to differentiate between the ones that would improve heart health and help keep excess weight away, and the ones that would plaque arteries and increase risks. 

Whilst it’s important to note that all oils are similar as per their calorie content, (each tablespoon contains approx. 120 cal) and should be used only sparingly, as part of an otherwise healthy diet, the oils do differ in parameters like methods used for oil extraction, composition and heat tolerance. 

The methods used for extraction would determine whether an oil is refined (extracted from oil cakes involving solvent extraction) or unrefined (cold pressed). 

Unrefined oils are considered better and are recommended due to the presence of a wide range of bioactive compounds, flavonoids and Vitamin E content, which tend to prevent rancidity in them. The right cooking oil would be the one that is unrefined and rich in monounsaturated fats, and low in saturated fats. 

Using a combination of cooking oils for different cooking preparation such as using olive oil for salads and light sautéing, canola, rice bran or groundnut oil for high temperature cooking and soybean and mustard oil for other preparations. It is best to limit visible fat intake to around 2 tbsp per day and get a bit oil wise while oil shopping. 

Considering health benefits of Rice Bran Oil (RBO), following brands of cooking oils contain rice bran oil:

1. Sundrop heart of M/s Agro tech foods limited: 
Rice Bran Oil – 80% 
Sunflower Oil - 20% 

2. Saffola Gold of Marico Limited: 
Rice Bran Oil - 80% 
Safflower Oil - 20% 

1. Sundrop heart of M/s Agro tech foods limited: 
Rice Bran Oil – 80% 
Sunflower Oil - 20% 

2. Saffola Gold of Marico Limited: 
Rice Bran Oil - 80% 
Safflower Oil - 20%

Smart consumers can make blended cooking oils at home also by purchasing individual oils separately and blend them at a much cheaper cost.

Consumer VOICE under its Comparative Product Testing program has been testing and comparing various popular brands of cooking oil and ghee. You can check the test results and decide which is the best edible oil and ghee for you. 


Consumer VOICE

Consumer VOICE

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