Vegetable oils are extracted from plant sources. They plays a vital role in providing nutrition by enhancing the flavour of food, improving the texture, and conducting heat while cooking.
Some of the common vegetable oils available are sunflower oil, palm oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, peanut oil, and olive oil to name a few. According to AAK Kamani, vegetable oils are known to have numerous health benefits; primarily it is the major source of energy and a carrier of essential nutrients which are vital for growth and metabolism, protecting brain cells, reducing the risk of heart diseases, etc.
‘PUFA and MUFA help lower bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.’
Want to know more about the benefits of vegetable oils? There are four basic types of fats we need to understand: monounsaturated fats (MUFAs), polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs), saturated fats (SAFAs) and trans fats. MUFAs and PUFAs are good fats; TRANS and to some extent SAFAs are bad fats.
Too much of SAFAs helps to raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. MUFAs are said lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and maintain HDL (good) cholesterol. PUFAs help to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol, but too much can also lower HDL (good) cholesterol.
Trans fats which are formed during the process of hydrogenation, tend to increase the LDL level which is the bad cholesterol and decrease the good cholesterol, the HDL which may lead to cardio vascular disease (CVD). Trans fats also increase triglyceride levels in the blood, adding to our risk of heart disease. Consumption of Trans fats may also lead to diabetes, obesity, immune system dysfunction.
Vegetable oil plays an important role in diet and nutrition.
They contain polyunsaturated (omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids) and monounsaturated fats, along with saturated fats though in different proportions. They help in cholesterol management: Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are the most frequently found forms of fats in vegetable oils. They help lower bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases thus improving cardio protective properties.
Oils provide energy which is essential for performing our daily activities.
Oils protect our brain cells.
Some oils like Peanut oil, Almond oil and Wheat Germ oil are rich in vitamin E which is required in the body for cell protection cum development and the right function of the nervous system. This vitamin benefits our body, by improving the immune system. It acts as an anti-oxidant and protects the different body tissues such as skin, eyes, etc. Also, the presence of vitamin E in the oils helps in preventing heart diseases. Vitamin E is an anti-oxidant - controls free radicals, helps prevent blood clots and blockages in coronary arteries, thus helping in preventing cardiovascular ailments.
Some vegetable oils contain Omega-3 Fatty Acids.
Vegetable oils, particularly flaxseed oil, Soyabean oil and canola oil, contain omega-3 fatty acids, an essential fatty acid that cannot be synthesized within the body. Omega-3 fatty acid plays an important role in the preservation of a healthy heart, brain function, normal growth and development of the body. The American Heart Association recommends a regular intake of omega-3 fatty acids for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Thus oils and fats form an integral part of any healthy and balanced diet.
Though excess of oil/ fat is considered the culprit for many life style diseases, the right quality and quantity of fat is essential for normal functioning of our body. Excess intake and the wrong kind of fats affect the cholesterol levels which are directly linked to heart diseases.
Emphasis should be laid on quality of fat rather than quantity. People who try to eliminate fat from their diet tend to substitute it with carbohydrates and end up eating high carb foods. These carbs eventually get converted to fat and gets stored in the body leading to obesity which in turn is responsible for many other diseases like diabetes, cardio vascular disease.
In conclusion, selecting the right type of fats and oils can not only change the flavor profile of your meal, but can also make a difference to your health. To lead a healthy and fulfilling life, it is best to cut down trans-fat and saturated fat intake, switch to healthier options, have a balanced diet and supplement it with regular fitness exercises.