Ludhiana, August 14:- “Fats and oils have gained momentum in graduating from being a cooking medium to an effective tool for lifestyle correction. Traditionally, the Indian cuisine has been a fat-rich.
However, with the changing lifestyles and rising health concerns such as diabetes and obesity, special emphasis is being laid on cutting all unhealthy components from daily diet,” said the Food and Nutrition experts of the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU). The “feel good, look great” aspiration has developed into a powerful drive of change in what Indians ingest, they noted. With so many varieties and brands flooding the market today, buying the right cooking oil can prove to be a tough task. Choice of right oil for food preparation has a dramatic impact on one’s health, they added.
The PAU expert, Dr Jaswinder Sangha said that fats are vital for making the food palatable. However, their excessive consumption in diet, especially those derived from animal sources, elevates blood cholesterol, she observed. There are primarily two types of fat in diet, saturated and unsaturated fats. Saturated fats, when consumed in excess, increase the level of both total as well as bad cholesterol in the blood, thus, allowing the fat to be deposited on the walls of the blood vessels, she told. The major contributors to intake of saturated fats are meat, egg yolk, fried foods and snacks and dairy products like ghee, butter, etc. Highlighting that unsaturated fats are considered to be good for health as they do not increase the levels of bad cholesterol, Dr Sangha said that major items to intake of unsaturated fats include vegetable oils, fish and nuts.
Elaborating, Dr Kirti Grover said that in Indian diet, vegetable oils are the main source of dietary fat. She told that mustard and rapeseed oils are used in the northern and eastern states of the country whereas palm oil, coconut, peanut and sunflower oils are widely consumed in south India. Soybean oil is more prevalent in Central India, she informed, adding that in Punjab, desi ghee/butter is the most frequently used fat followed by vanaspati, rice bran oil and mustard oil. Total daily fat intake is highest in Punjab (rural 58.7 g and urban 61g), which is one of the leading causes of heart diseases in the state, she disclosed.
Dr Monika Choudhary said that no doubt, dietary fat performs vital physiological roles but still it is desirable to limit the consumption of fats and oils. She emphasized that healthy cooking oil should have an appropriate ratio of mono-saturated, poly-saturated fats and saturated fats as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) i.e 1:1:5:1. Dr Choudhary advised the public to use a combination of oils/fats, having almost balanced fat composition with moderate levels of saturated and poly-saturated fats and higher levels of mono-saturated fats. “It is best to use a variety of oils for cooking and keep changing it every month. With this, one gets both the heart healthy fats as well as poly-saturated and mono-saturated fats,” she told.