G Ramanarayanan | Mon, 22 Mar, 2010,11:31 AM
'Worried about the health of your family? Consider cooking food with small quantity and with right quality oil,' say nutrition experts.
It was no less than a surprise for 35-year-old Amit Sharma when his doctor blamed oil for the severe chest pain that he had encountered last week.
'How can oil lead to chest pain?' was his next obvious question. The answer surprised him even more, when the doctor replied - 'You had a mild heart attack.'
For Sharma with no personal or family history of heart disease, the news of heart attack was a real shocker.
Sharma had always felt that he was taking all the necessary precautions needed to keep the heart disease or any lifestyle disease at bay.
He was regular to the gym and a health-conscious eater. And he had never smoked or taken alcohol in his life.
No wonder then that a large number of experts emphasise on the right selection of oil apart from adoption of other precautionary measures when it comes to management of heart health.
One of those experts, Kajal Pandaya echoed the same view. He said, 'Precise choice of oil becomes inevitable if you want to stay healthy and live long.
Replacement of general cooking oil with zero trans fat oil like coconut oil can go a long way in preventing heart diseases and promoting healthy living.'
Role of oil in heart health and healthy living
All those oils that we consume in our daily life contain fats, some of which are harmful to health.
Transfat and hydrogenated unsaturated fat, for instance. raise levels of bad cholesterol, known as Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL), and lower levels of 'good' cholesterol, known as High Density Lipoproteins (HDL).
It merits mention that a rise in LDL levels is considered bad for people with personal or family history of coronary heart diseases.
However this does not in any way mean that people with no personal or family history can afford a rise in LDL levels.
'This is because with its rise, more fat and cholesterol get accumulated in the blood vessels (because of its smaller size) and cause plaques in coronary arteries (arteries that carry oxygen and nutrients to the heart), leading to blockage of these arteries resulting in severe chest pain and heart attack,' explains cardiologist Ashok Seth.
Conversely, higher levels of HDL ('good cholesterol') are considered to be desirable because this type appears to transport cholesterol out of the arteries to the liver where it can be reused or excreted from the body.
The message is simple - Avoid trans fat
Keep the consumption of Transfat to bare minimum. Ideally, avoid it altogether if you can.
Try picking up oils containing zero trans fat and less unsaturated hydrogenated fat from the shelves of super markets. Here are some healthier options for your consideration.
<B>Rice Bran Oil:<P> It contains 47 per cent mono unsaturated fat, 33 per cent polyunsaturated fats and 20 per cent saturated fat. It is fast emerging as specialty oil, which is quite balanced and versatile.
The high smoke point (490 degrees) prevents fatty acid breakdown at high temperatures. It is rich in both the types of vitamin E and natural antioxidants and is considered good for the heart because of zero trans fat content.
The only drawback is that it is highly expensive and is not easily available in India. Coconut Oil: It contains 92 per cent natural saturated fat.
Because of this high presence of saturated fatty acids, the oil doesn't go through hydrogenation process and thus does not contain any trans fat.
Sushrutha Samhitha, an ancient ayurvedic text, describes it as 'Heart's favourite tonic'.
'It is healthy because it is predominantly comprised medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) which are readily metabolised in the body and converted to energy instantaneously, meaning thereby that they are not converted into body fat or cholesterol to the degree other fats are,' say nutritionists.
It merits mentions that of all the options available in the market, coconut oil can be a smart choice. In addition to heart health, it promotes dental health too, according to dentist Mahesh Chauhan.
He says, 'Coconut oil facilitates the absorption of fat soluble vitamins (A, B, D, E, K) and minerals (calcium, phosphorous and magnesium) and hence is good for the teeth.'
Also, coconut oil is extremely good for women who are prone to osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become weak and brittle, especially after middle age, says a senior orthopaedic K B Attrii.
However, there are some other health benefits as well. Coconut oil kills the fungus/yeast infections that cause candida, ringworm, thrush, jock itch, diaper rash and more.
Also, it attacks and kills the bacteria that cause pneumonia, sore throat, urinary tract infections, meningitis, and food poisoning, according to paediatrician Sanjeev Bagai.
Agrees nutritionist Max Saket Ritika Samaddar. She says, 'Coconut oil lowers blood pressure, supports thyroid function and increases your metabolism.
In addition, it improves the body's use of blood glucose and improves insulin secretion and absorption, thereby decreasing the risk of acquiring diabetes.
Coconut oil helps the body heal and repair faster. It protects the body from free radical damage and prevents premature aging and degenerative diseases.'