Oil is found abundantly in nature and in the human body too. Oils contain three types of fats – saturated, unsaturated (polyunsaturated fatty acids or PUFA and monounsaturated fatty acids or MUFA) and trans fats. The fats in the oil are digested and converted into fatty acids; these fatty acids are then used by the body for various functions.
Health Benefits of Consuming Oil
Oils are an essential ingredient in Indian cuisine. Oil is important for good health as it provides many health benefits. This is why doctors recommend that we derive 20 to 35% of our calories from fat.
- Oils that are rich in PUFA and MUFA are good for the heart and prevent heart-related ailments.
- Oils reduce inflammation (swelling, burning sensation and redness) in the body.
- They help absorb vitamins A, D, E and K that are present in the different foods that we consume.
- Since they contain calories, they help give us energy.
- They help lubricate muscles and bone joints and make movement easy.
- They are required for smooth and glowing skin.
- They promote brain function and are important for good memory.
Oils and Diabetics
The food we consume is primarily made up of proteins, carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins and dietary fat that comes from vegetable oils and animal fat. In a balanced diet, all these components are well-balanced, so the digestion process happens at a steady pace. This prevents spikes in blood sugar levels which is important for a diabetic. That is why we should follow the age-old practice of consuming proteins (lentils, nuts or meat), fibre (fruits and vegetables) and dietary fat like ghee and oil for a complete meal.
Also Read: Planning A South Indian Diabetic Friendly Diet
Inflammation is one of the primary causes for diabetes. Oils contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. While omega-3 fatty acids fight inflammation and prevent the onset of diabetes, omega-6 fatty acids cause inflammation and increase the risk of diabetes. For diabetics, consuming oils rich in omega-3 fatty acids helps manage the condition better. Hence the correct choice of cooking oil plays an important role in the prevention, reduction and better management of diabetes.
Important Tips on Cooking Oils
In Indian cooking, oil is used for deep frying, sautéing or shallow frying, seasoning and cold mixing (as in idli podi), so it’s important to know a couple of points.
- Always choose oils that have a high smoke point. This prevents smoking of the oil during cooking which makes it carcinogenic (cancer-causing).
- Refined oils are best avoided as they are stripped of all vitamins and natural fibre and also promote the formation of trans fats.
- Cold-pressed oils are a better choice, so avoid oils that have used heat treatment during oil extraction.
- Avoid ready-to-eat, processed and packaged foods as the source of oil/fat is not always clear; this poses a health risk.
- Please note, even the healthiest oil or fat is best consumed in moderation, so avoid frequent consumption of deep-fried snacks.
Best Cooking Oils for Diabetics (Cold-Pressed)
Sesame oil is great for the heart and for diabetes management as well. It prevents plaque formation and atherosclerosis. It is also known to fight malignancy, memory loss, tooth decay and gum disease. So, it’s good for pancreatic, heart and dental health.
Groundnuts are rich in polyunsaturated (PUFA) and monounsaturated (MUFA) fatty acids. This helps lower bad cholesterol. The oil is also rich in vitamin E which acts as an antioxidant and helps fight free radicals.
Also Read: Great Tips to Lower Your Bad Cholesterol
Rice Bran Oil
Rice bran oil is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and a component called oryzanol, both of which reduce overall cholesterol. It has anti-inflammatory properties and hence is good for diabetics. Further, its anti-oxidant properties help fight cancer better.
The polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in sunflower help lower bad and overall cholesterol which reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It helps fight free radicals, boosts immunity, maintains proper functioning of nervous system and is rich in vitamin E.
Mustard oil is loaded with PUFA, MUFA, omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, minerals and vitamin E. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, it is good for diabetics. Being rich in anti-oxidants, it helps fight cancer. It boosts metabolism, promotes digestion, improves circulation and fights sinus-congestion.
Coconut oil helps reduce appetite and burns fat better. This helps in abdominal fat reduction and better weight management, both of which are important for a diabetic. It raises good cholesterol and boosts heart health. It also boosts brain function and helps reduce seizures.
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