How to Choose Healthy Cooking Oils?

One of the most common ingredients available in all pantries worldwide has to be cooking oil. We need cooking oils for just about everything; whether frying, sauteing, or even baking cannot be done without oil.  Choosing the right cooking oil becomes important when it comes to health. Healthy cooking oils can help lower cholesterol and help with heart health.  

There are various cooking oils available in the market; however, how should we choose the one that’s right for us? Let’s take a look at some tips on choosing the best cooking oil for the heart:

  • Good balance of Monounsaturated Fats & Polyunsaturated Fats: 

Oils with a good balance of  MUFA & PUFA are the best cooking oils for the heart. Monounsaturated fats are unsaturated fatty acids; these fats have one double bond in their structure while polyunsaturated fats have more than one unsaturated carbon bond within the fat molecule. Cooking oils high in MUFA & PUFA are the  best cooking oils for the heart as they reduce the risks of heart diseases and improve overall health by reducing the total and LDL cholesterol in the body. These heart-healthy oils are beneficial for our metabolism. Oils like sunflower, safflower, rice bran and soybean are all examples of heart-healthy cooking oils. Cooking oils derived from nuts and seeds are often high in MUFA & PUFA. However, an easy way to incorporate a good balance of MUFAs and PUFAs is a  blended oil scientifically formulated for heart benefits. 

  •  Lower in Saturated Fats: 

Oil is something we consume daily, it also comprises of saturated fatty acids. SFA is a crucial component in our body, however, an excess can have harmful effects. They have been suggested to increase LDL and total cholesterol. Hence, an oil lower in SFA is a healthy cooking oil that doesn’t end up increasing the LDL cholesterol levels in our body.  Most oils are a combination of MUFAs, PUFAs, and saturated fatty acids. Choosing  blended oils that are low in saturated fatty acids (SFA) and high in unsaturated fats can help in lowering cholesterol levels.Saffola Total is one such blended oil that is rich in MUFAs and PUFAs which makes it the perfect low-cholesterol oil good for the heart.

  • High Smoke Point: 

What is a smoke point? Essentially, the point at which an oil starts releasing smoke is the smoking point. Every oil with which you cook should have a high smoking point because the moment an oil starts to overheat, it loses its minerals, antioxidants and various other nutrients, in turn losing its healthy properties. 

A higher smoking point means that the oil is less susceptible to heat-induced oxidation and can sustain its nutrients. As soon as oil breaks down due to heat, it releases free radicals, which cause inflammation, and prolonged inflammation can lead to chronic diseases like cardiovascular diseases or cancer. Therefore, you must go for oils that have a high smoking point. It is essential for cooking oil to be a heart-healthy oil as it can otherwise cause problems in our bodies.  Saffola Gold has a high smoke point making it a healthier choice. 

  • Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants have benefits that include protecting the body against factors that contribute to cardiovascular diseases. Antioxidants can prevent the conversion of blood cholesterol molecules into substances that can harden into plaques in artery walls and block blood flow. These plaques can lead to various health diseases that are detrimental especially to heart health. So, a cooking oil rich in anti-oxidants is the best way to cleanse your body from the inside. Saffola Total can be your go-to oil as it contains an antioxidant system that can help fight free radicals which are known to cause oxidative damage leading to various diseases.

Oils are an integral part of our lives, and we should also use them in adequate amounts as oils often contain healthy nutrients essential for our system. One of the best cooking oils for the heart are blended oils like Saffola Gold and Saffola Total; these oils are beneficial for our health and provide the nutrients of various oils in a single go! 


Ways to Naturally Reduce Bad Cholesterol for a Healthier Heart

We are often inundated with certain questions like how to reduce cholesterol or, more specifically, how to reduce cholesterol naturally. Cholesterol is an important substance in our body and plays various essential functions. Cholesterol is thus not inherently bad, but excess cholesterol is associated with several health disease risks. It is hence important to understand the types of cholesterol and reduce it accordingly.  LDL Cholesterol can be linked with heart health risks and methods to reduce it should be applied in daily life. 

Therefore, the question actually becomes how to reduce bad cholesterol. Various cholesterol-lowering foods can help you reduce bad cholesterol, and certain habits can do so as well, so let’s find the answer to lowering bad cholesterol: 

  1. Unsaturated fatty acids are healthier: Unsaturated fatty acids consist of monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Studies have shown that these fatty acids are beneficial for health by reducing total and LDL cholesterol by improving their clearance in the blood. MUFAs and PUFAs can be obtained in the diet through vegetable oils, nuts, avocados and fatty fish. One can take a look into a Mediterranean diet as well.
  2. Omega-3 fatty acids are heart-healthy foods: Polyunsaturated fatty acids are further also divided into omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that are not synthesized in the body and need to be provided through food. Omega 3 is a polyunsaturated fatty acid that is obtained from vegetable oils, fatty fish like salmon and tuna, nuts like walnuts, soyabeans. These help in reducing cholesterol, and blood pressure lowering your overall risk of heart diseases. 
  3. Fibre can help reduce cholesterol: Fibre is yet another component that helps in decreasing cholesterol in the body. It does so by reducing the absorption of cholesterol in the bloodstream by binding with it. Fibre-rich foods include oats, beans and lentils, flaxseeds, vegetables and fruits. These should be included in our daily diet to better our overall health especially heart health.  
  4. Exercise regularly for a better heart: Exercising is one of the simplest and cheapest ways of maintaining normal cholesterol levels in our bodies. It is important to exercise 3-4 times a week. One must combine cardio, strength training and stretching to create a healthy workout. The American Heart Association advises 150-300 minutes of aerobic exercise every week. Following the guideline helps in achieving benefits like lowering risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and maintaining weight. It also improves HDL levels that helps maintain normal cholesterol levels in the body.. This is genuinely the simplest answer to the question ‘how to reduce cholesterol?” 
  5. Maintain a healthy weight for normal cholesterol levels: Maintaining a healthy weight through a heart-healthy diet plan is essential for maintaining normal cholesterol levels. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), high cholesterol can affect people of any weight. However, being overweight may raise the risk of high cholesterol by causing  LDL cholesterol levels to increase and HDL levels to decrease.  Therefore, you must have a diet that is balanced and has the recommended amount of fruits, vegetables, lean meat, fatty fish, nuts, whole wheat and rice. This heart healthy diet plan will benefit you in the long run and result in a balanced weight. However, in order to lose weight, a  heart healthy diet plan should go side by side with exercising. 
  6. Choosing a healthy cooking oil: Cooking oils are an important part of our pantries and one must use an oil that is good for our hearts and reduces the bad cholesterol. Saffola Total is an exceptional blended oil that can be used on a daily basis. It is a heart-healthy oil that works to regulate the 8 key indicators of heart health and provides Total well-being through the addition of antioxidants in oil for better immunity, oryzanol to lower cholesterol and a good blend of MUFAs and PUFAs for enhanced nutrition.

A high LDL cholesterol level can be a matter of concern for anyone; however, if the tips above are used consistently, we can easily lower our cholesterol levels. You can also consult a nutritionist and follow a proper heart healthy diet plan


Cholesterol: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

We’ve all heard the word Cholesterol; it is an essential component in our body. However, in recent times, the term cholesterol has received somewhat of a bad reputation. Especially with words like high  and low cholesterol being thrown around here and there. Many individuals don’t even understand normal cholesterol levels and fall prey to the wrong information. So, let’s get that right first.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is produced by the liver in the body or can be obtained from foods such as meat, poultry and dairy products. Our liver produces around 1 gram of cholesterol every day and the rest is sourced from food. Despite all the flak it receives, cholesterol plays a crucial role in the body. Cholesterol is present in all cells and is also required for the synthesis of vitamin D, bile acids and certain hormones. 

Cholesterol isn’t soluble in blood and is transported in the body with the help of a protein making it a lipoprotein. 

There are two main lipoproteins: 

  1. HDL cholesterol [high-density lipoprotein] or good cholesterol.
  2. LDL cholesterol [low-density lipoprotein] or bad cholesterol.

HDL cholesterol is responsible for reducing excess cholesterol by increasing the excretion of cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol is responsible for transporting cholesterol and fat from the liver to the rest of the body. While both of these are important, a higher LDL cholesterol leads to a build-up of plaque and can block the arteries eventually increasing other heart health risks. 

Before we understand what causes high cholesterol, it is important to understand the levels of cholesterol required in the body. Cholesterol is diagnosed in the blood and a level greater than 200 mg/dl is termed as high cholesterol. Higher the cholesterol, the higher the associated health risks. 

What causes high cholesterol? 

What causes high cholesterol is a relatively common question. In fact, there are many reasons why we have high cholesterol. Let’s check them out: 

  1. Poor eating habits: 

Poor eating habits are one of the top reasons behind the increasing cholesterol in an individual. Cholesterol is obtained from foods that contain fat in the form of fatty acids. Saturated fatty acids play essential roles in the body, however, excess of it has been associated with increased total and LDL cholesterol. Hence, foods rich in saturated fatty acids like meat, poultry and high-fat dairy products should be consumed sparingly. However, trans fat is the bigger culprit. Trans fat not only increases total and LDL cholesterol but it also reduces HDL cholesterol. It is thus important to avoid the intake of food that forms trans fats such as processed foods, bakery products, and fried foods. High consumption can lead to high cholesterol in the body. 

  1. A sluggish lifestyle: 

Various research has suggested that physical activity can be linked to good health. According to the World Health Organization, adults must do 150 to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. Inadequate physical activity is always the reason behind numerous lifestyle diseases. Physical activity helps reduce cholesterol in the body by increasing the levels of HDL cholesterol. HDL cholesterol helps in lowering cholesterol from the bloodstream. Sitting around, not engaging in an active lifestyle and living a sedentary lifestyle can result in the accumulation of cholesterol and hence, high cholesterol and its associated risk factors. 

  1. Smoking is injurious to health:

 Smoking is yet another reason behind high cholesterol. Not only does smoking decrease HDL cholesterol, which is good cholesterol, but it also increases LDL cholesterol. Smoking also damages the blood vessels and speeds up the hardening of arteries and increases the risk of heart disease.

  1. Mismanaged weight: 

Obesity is a contributing factor to various non-communicable diseases. Being obese means you’re at least 20% over your ideal body weight or have a BMI of higher than 25 kg/m2. Body weight has a direct association with cardiovascular risk factors, including high cholesterol. Studies have also suggested that losing weight is associated with positive health parameters like reducing total, LDL cholesterol. Hence, it is important to manage weight.

How to reduce cholesterol?

It is important to work towards reducing cholesterol. Let’s go through some ways:

  1. The question of how to reduce cholesterol is a common one. 
  2. The first step to reducing cholesterol is regular checkup. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention recommends to get tested every 5 years and more frequently if you have a family history for high cholesterol. 
  3. Another major step includes consuming a heart-healthy diet plan. Try including heart-healthy vegetables and fruits in your diet. Make sure to limit your processed food and fried food intake. 
  4. Exercise regularly; in fact, exercising regularly will ensure normal cholesterol levels. Exercises can be of your choice; they can be yoga, running, strength training and something as simple as walking. 
  5. Don’t smoke, drink alcohol or consume drugs; these habits lead to higher cholesterol. 
  6. Choose healthier ingredients for everyday life. Oil is a crucial component in all cooking. Use healthier oils; blended oils like Saffola Total which has been clinically proven to reduce cholesterol as they have a perfect balance of MUFAs and PUFAs, making Saffola Total a heart-healthy oil.

Cholesterol has important functions in the body, however, if it gets out of control, high levels of cholesterol can cause clogged arteries and heart disease. But making a few lifestyle changes and taking good care of your heart health can help reduce the risk of any severe heart problems. We hope these tips can help you lower cholesterol levels and help you live a healthier and happier life.


Did You Know Edible Oil Can Become Rancid? Here’s Why and How to Prevent it

Do you ever notice your cooking oil suddenly going bad, but you’re lost for an explanation? The odour and off taste when oil goes bad is what we call rancidity.  According to popular research, rancidity is one of the major problems in relation to the use of vegetable oils. Time, temperature, light, air, exposed surface, moisture, nitrogenous organic material, and traces of metals are known to be factors responsible for rancidity. When cooking oil is exposed to any of these factors, it can lead to rancidity causing an off smell and taste and can also impact nutritional value.

Let us understand the causes of rancid oil a little more in detail and look at measures we can take to prevent edible oil from becoming rancid:

Cooking Oil Oxidation and Exposure to Air

Cooking oils typically contain different fats —oils contain monounsaturated fats (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) that are more beneficial for health compared to saturated fats (SFA). Industries also blend two oils to achieve a balance between SFA: MUFA: PUFA for health and cooking benefits called blended oils. The risk of oxidation increases with the increase in double bonds. Polyunsaturated fats are highly vulnerable to oxidation and react with oxygen when exposed to air for a prolonged period. The reaction is termed as oxidative rancidity and can result in the production of other compounds such as aldehyde, ketone, or carboxylic acid that contribute to the rancid smell and taste.

Cooking Oil Exposure to Heat

Heat has the effect of accelerating chemical reactions that release harmful oxidative products in edible oil. When in a heated state, the molecules in cooking oil move around very rapidly, bumping into each other. This can sometimes interfere with/break the bonds i.e. compounds that make up these oils and cause them to go rancid. 

For these reasons, it is advisable not to cook oil at very high temperatures.

Cooking Oil Exposure to Water and Light 

When oil reacts with water it can cause hydrolytic rancidity. Hydrolytic rancidity is the process when an unpleasant odour is developed upon hydrolysis of triglycerides present in fats and oils. These release free fatty acids that can react with other compounds and cause an off flavour and taste. The process of oxidation and hydration becomes more rapid in the presence of light, especially ultraviolet light (since it is stronger) because they facilitate the formation of free radicals that can lead to oxidation. This in turn results in oil rancidity.

Preventing Cooking Oil from Becoming Rancid

Consuming rancid oil can be harmful to health. Therefore, it becomes all the more crucial to make sure we are storing our cooking oils the right way and preventing them from becoming rancid. Here are some simple steps we can undertake: 

  • Make sure to keep the lids tightly closed to avoid any exposure to air. Don’t leave edible oil exposed for too long. 
  • Keep away from heat – such as the stove. Try to store them in a cool place.
  • Store cooking oil in a dry, dark place to avoid overexposure to water and light. 

You can also consider the use of blended oils such as Saffola Gold. A blended oil typically has better oxidative stability due to antioxidant properties which improve shelf life. They also have several other health benefits such as being heart-friendly and attributed to a good MUFA: PUFA balance. Read more about Blended Oils and Why They’re Good For You

It’s important to remember that the oil we cook our food in is just as important as the food we eat. And just like the food we eat, we must ensure our cooking oil is fresh and healthy to consume, so we can look after our overall nutrition.