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Zareer Patell

Without diving too deep into the history of cooking oils which were being used as early as 250,000 BC when man first learned how to produce fire, was the time when people used animal fats and edible oils for cooking purposes – that’s when man cooked meat over fire and noticed natural oil dripping out from it. During those days even seeds were crushed and boiled to extract oil (vegetable oil).

Traditionally Indians broadly use two types of edible oils.
The 1st being “vegetable” oil obtained from crushing local oilseeds – mustard in north, ground nut in Gujarat, Karnataka, AP, etc; sesame in Tamil Nadu and coconut in Kerala, and so on…
The second cooking oil medium is “animal” fat, namely desi-ghee prepared from milk.

All was fine till the early part of the 19th century. People were healthy and coronary artery disease was a rare occurrence – until major technological advancements happened in 1937 in the oil industry – more of a strategy on how to increase shelf life of cooking oils, mass production, and more importantly, how to augment the profit.

Disaster number One:
This happened when vegetable oils were hydrogenated to mimic desi-ghee (vanaspati-ghee) – a la “real” ice cream versus “frozen” desserts. It’s well documented that hydrogenated oils increase the risk of heart disease and other problems.

Disaster number Two:
This occurred when a “breakthrough revolution” happened with solvent extraction and refining of seed oils – all aimed towards more extraction, increasing shelf life, bleached to remove colour, deodorised by using sodium hydroxide and other chemicals galore.

By 1970, with this technology they could process even low-bearing materials like soya bean and rice bran, which wasn’t possible with the old mechanical pressing (cold pressed oil of today).

Meaning, today’s seed oils are highly processed and have chemicals that are harmful for our bodies. Trans fat available in most packaged food items are double trouble for heart health. Refined oil are linked to whole body inflammation, metabolic dys-function, diabetes, hormone disruption, autoimmune disease and even cancer.

So what to do? Desi-ghee or refined seed oils?

t is an indisputable fact that ghee, butter and cream are saturated fats that have abundant cholesterol and “excess” of which is trouble for the coronary arteries. Taken moderately, is considered healthy – as proven by ancestral history.

On the other hand, seed (plant) based oils are unsaturated (no cholesterol) and are considered heart healthy oils.

The solution:
1. Use oils that are not refined and poisoned with chemicals, namely: seed oils that are cold-pressed and olive oil.
2. ⁠Cut down on usage and minimise deep frying.
3. ⁠Rotate oils, because oils have a distributed amount of fats present in the form of monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and saturated fats.
4. ⁠Do not re-use the leftover oil.

While the former two are healthier, our body requires a healthy balance of all the three.

And, don’t forget to exercise…!

Zareer Patell – Black Belt, Fitness / Personal Trainer & Fitness Columnist (since 1972).

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The fabled fountain of youth has become a reality. Centuries ago, Ponce de Leon went chasing after it & started a trend that exists to this day. The waters of the Bahamas & Florida that de Leon believed could restore health & youth – although nice to swim in – didn’t quite cut it. You can also forget about finding the answer on some mountaintop.

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