Oils and Fats Food Group
Fats are important group of food pyramid established by USA.
Daily allowance fats needed by age and gender
Ghee, Butter and Lard
These are all directly or indirectly animal fats. In India, Lard is rarely used. The purpose to include it here is to show the similarity with Ghee. The high smoking point of Ghee makes it suitable sautéing and frying. Since it is solid at room temperature, it is used as a shortening. Ghee is very high in Saturated fats. Diabetics and people with high Cholesterol should use it with caution in their diet.
On surface, Margarine seems healthy because of low saturated fats. It is a man-made fat from polyunsaturated plant oils such as Corn and Soy oils, transforming into trans fats. This enables the oil to be solid same as butter. Evidence suggests that trans fats are as bad as saturated fats. The tables will look very different if the amount of trans fats is added to the amount of saturated fats. Unfortunately, trans fats are normally not listed.
Mustard Seed Oil
In the olden days, black mustard seeds were pressed to extract the oil, while the leftover was mixed with the animal feed for the dairy cows and water buffalos. This is a very interesting oil in Indian Cuisine. The oils is rapidly heated to its smoking point and the heat turned down and the ingredients added as required. This method of cooking alters the taste of the oil imparting a unique nutty flavor. Mustard seed oil is very comparable to Olive Oil in lower Saturated fats and higher Monounsaturated fats at economical prices.
This is not a common oil in India, however readily accepted by Indians overseas. Olive oil has a rich buttery taste making it more suitable for making salad dressings. Its not pungent as the Mustard oil, but with very similar nutritional profile.
Peanut oil is high in monounsaturated fat with a high smoking point. Indian and Chinese Peanut oils have nutty flavor, while the peanut oil processed in United States is taste and flavor neutral. This oil is normally used for deep frying and sautéing. In India, hydrogenated peanut oil is available as a substitute for Ghee.
Canola Oil, Soy Oil and Corn Oil
When Indians come to United States, they are face the with these plant oils. These oils are taste neutral with similar nutritional profile. These are healthy oils low in saturated fats and relatively high in monounsaturated fats. Canola oil has interesting roots. This is a modern oil. It is extracted from "genetically engineered Rapeseed". It has high smoking point and higher monounsaturated fats. The flavor and taste are neutral. These properties make it suitable as a general purpose oil from salads to deep-frying.
This is a popular cooking oil in South India. The oil is high in saturated fats.
Cotton Seed Oil
In the olden days, cotton seed oil was extracted by pressing the cotton seeds. After extracting the oil, the leftover was mixed with animal feed for dairy animals. The oil was naturally taste neutral and used for general purpose cooking. Nutritionally, it is middle of the road oil, not too high in Saturated fats (harmful) or high in monounsaturated fats (helpful).
A very good oil even better than then much touted Olive oil, but very pricey to be used as daily cooking oil. Normally used in making desserts. There is a loss of flavor with heat.
Fish & Nuts
These foods are described in the Protein section.
1. Saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol tend to raise “bad” (LDL) cholesterol levels in the blood, which in turn increases the risk for heart disease.
Oils and fats are a necessary component to maintain health. About 15% to 30% calories in diet must come from oils and fats. They provide a mechanism to absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A, D and E. Fat also slows down the digestion process, making you feel less hungry. The issue with fats is not if they are needed, it is the types fats. You should minimize saturated and trans fats (10% maximum), maximize monounsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats help raise HDL, enabling liver to process it and not stick to artery walls.
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