World Heart Day is commemorated every year on 29th September to spread awareness about your heart health. Your diet and lifestyle play a major role in maintaining your heart health and deciding the risk of heart trouble you may face. The food choices you make have a direct impact on your hearth health and a good, balanced diet is not just about eliminating unhealthy foods but also eating foods rich in nutrients, fiber and healthy fats. There is a lot of confusion when it comes to fats. It is important to know that healthy fats form an important part of a balanced diet. But, what do we mean by healthy fats? Monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and Omega-3 fatty acids are known as heart-friendly fats.
According to the National Institute of Nutrition in India, about 1/5th of your diet or 20% should be devoted to fats, all three kinds -polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids. When it comes to fat, the type and quantity of fat in your daily diet really matters. We asked Dr. Rupali Datta, Clinical Nutritionist at Fortis Hospital in New Delhi to suggest the best cooking oils for the heart.
1. Peanut or Groundnut Oil: Peanut oil has a high content of monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats that help lower bad cholesterol levels. It also contains natural antioxidants that protect the cells from disease-causing free radicals. It is rich in Vitamin E, which is good for the heart. It does not contain any trans-fat, is cholesterol free, and low in saturated fats.
2. Olive Oil: The main type of fat found in olive oil is the monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFAs).MUFAs fall under the category of healthy dietary fats. These healthy fats are known to reduce the risk of heart disease by keeping your cholesterol levels in check. Extra virgin olive oil is great in salads as a dressing and can even be used for light sauteing while regular olive oil has a high smoke point and can be used for frying.
Extra virgin olive oil is great in salads as a dressing
3. Rice Bran Oil: Rice bran oil is often touted as one of the best cooking oils for your heart. It has got an ideal balance of polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) and monounsaturated fats (MUFA). The outer layer of the rice grain is called bran and the oil is extracted from this brown husk. It has a mild flavour and is neutral in taste. It’s light and has a mild nutty flavour. Use it in salads, cookies and cakes or for grilling and sauteing.
Rice bran oil is light and has a mild nutty flavour. Photo Credit: Istock
4. Sunflower Oil: This oil is extracted from sunflower seeds and has a subtle taste. It is known to contain more Vitamin E (an antioxidant good for the heart) than other oils. The National Institute of Nutrition recommends that you have it in combination with mustard oil. Sunflower oil contains more than 80% of monounsaturated fats which makes it heart-friendly. It has a very high smoke point which is why it is mostly used for frying.
5. Safflower Oil: Safflower oil is known to contain a very high amount of Omega-6 fatty acids (also known as linoleic acid), which balances the cholesterol in the body, prevents the hardening of the arteries and thus, reduces the risk of heart disease.
6. Soyabean Oil: Soyabean oil is a vegetable oil extracted from soyabeans. It contains a good variety of essential fatty acids and plant sterols that promote overall health. These help in reducing the accumulation of cholesterol in the body. It is also known to reduce the risk of clogged arteries (atherosclerosis) and other heart conditions like heart attacks and stroke.
The National Institute of Nutrition suggests that you must use a variety of cooking oilsand not stick to just one cooking medium to reap maximum health benefits. In fact, some cooking oils are healthier when used in combination with others like sunflower oil and mustard oil.