Oils – An Essential Food

Oils are mainly used as a cooking medium for frying and sauteing, and sometimes as shortening in baking bread, cakes or biscuits.They are principal source of energy and when unrefined, source of nutrients like vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin E.

There are main three types of oil obtained from seeds, beans and nuts.

  • Cold Pressed oil : It is still extracted using the ancient method of hydraulic pressing. This oil is high quality and full of flavour. Unfortunately the authetic cold pressed oil is expensive.
  • Semi-refined oil : It requires greater pressure and higher temperatures. The extraction rate is higher, but the vitamin content suffers.
  • Refined Oil : It confusingly labelled “pure”, is produced by a method called solvent extraction, which removes most of the goodness as well as bleaching and deodorizing the oil. Many of the vitamins are then added back artificially along with preservatives to prevent the oil going rancid.


It depends what you want your oil for : dressing salads, frying vegetables and grains, or baking. For eating raw, as a salad dressing, use cold pressed or unrefined oil.; it tastes much the best to most palates and is nutritionally the most valuable.

  • Olive oil : has a rich flavour, but one that varies widely depending on the country of origin. Virgin oil means oil from the first pressing, the best quality of oil and recommended for salad dressing.
  • Sunflower oil : is perhaps the best all-purpose oil. It is high in linoleic acid.
  • Sesame Oil : does not go rancid quickly, and food containing it will not go stale, which makes it a good oil for baking.
  • Corn Oil : is cheap to produce, almost tasteless and popular as a cooking oil.
  • Peanut Oil : is another very popular oil. It is particularly good for frying as it can be heated to very high temperatures without burning.
  • Soya oil : is also popular and cheap.
  • Coconut oil : highly resistant to oxidation at high heat. The smoke point of refined coconut oil is 400°F, which makes it a better option for frying or cooking at higher temperatures. frying.The smoke point of virgin coconut oil is 350°F – best for baking and sauteing.

STORING : Cold pressed oils, apart from sesame oil, do not keep well. They are not heat-treated or otherwise stabilized and may go rancid, so buy comparatively small quantities (enough for a month or two) and keep in a cool, dark place. If it is too cold and the oil congeals, do not worry – the oil will liquefy very quickly when brought to room temperature. Semi-refined oils will keep up to three months.

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