Indian cuisine is probably one of the healthiest cuisines in the world taking into consideration the different varieties of amazing superfoods we use in our dishes, the amount of raw food we consume, the good balance of vegetables, lentils and legumes, along with the regular consumption of fermented foods like idli, dosa, dholka, and not to forget the variety of healthy spices that find their way into simple daily dishes, but then we do have our fair share of deep-fried indulgences like pooris and pakodas that cannot actually do not fit into the category of “healthy food.” But can we give up on crispy pooris or pakodas, nope, not at all! It’s a cheat food that we have to indulge in at least once a week, right? What we can do instead is to switch to healthy oils when it comes to deep-fried foods. Most Indian households use refined sunflower oil for cooking, but research has proven that seed oils are not good for your cardiovascular system with their high omega-6 fatty acid content. At high temperatures, such as when you are deep frying, the bonds in oils can be broken and release fumes and free radicals. So, in this post, we have a list of healthiest oils for deep frying food:
What is Smoking Point of a Cooking Oil and why It’s Important for Health?
A smoking point of a cooking oil is the temperature up to which the bonds in that particular oil remain stable without reacting with oxygen (oxidizing). Beyond the smoking point, the bonds start to break and the oil starts to produce smoke, fumes, and release free radicals and that’s the reason why some oils like sunflower oil with polysaturated fats that have multiple bonds are not suitable for deep frying. When choosing a oil for cooking, pick one with a high smoking point so that it remains stable without oxidizing and releasing free radicals at high temperatures. Beyond this point, the chemical structure of oil changes and the compounds released can even cause cancer. Deep frying Indian dishes like poori requires temperatures up to 204 degrees Celsius, and it would be prudent to pick oils that have high smoking points. Also, oils with low smoking point lose their nutritional value.
Can Cold Pressed Oils be used Deep Frying?
Cold pressed oils have extremely low smoking points, for example the smoking point of extra virgin cold pressed olive oil is 160 degrees celsius and you cannot fry food at this temperature whereas refined olive oil has a slightly higher smoking point. Therefore, never deep fry food with cold-pressed oils, it’s a bad idea, reserve such oils for salad dressings.
Why Can’t We Use Olive Oil For Deep Frying?
The smoking point of olive oil is low and while it’s an extremely healthy oil for cooking food that does not require deep frying, it can smoke out at high temperatures and release free radicals into the food.
6 Healthiest Oils for Deep Frying Food:
1. Coconut Oil: The smoking point of coconut oil is 232 celsius and most of the bonds are made of saturated fatty acids which do not break up easily at high temperatures. Also, coconut oil is high on nutrition, boosts metabolism, increases good cholesterol levels, is great for skin, and above all, aids weight loss. Also, you can use coconut oil for doing all sorts of cooking, from making curries to even whipping it up in your coffee.
2. Palm Oil: You may not have heard much about this oil, but it is a good source of vitamin E along with having high amounts of saturated fat. When used as a frying oil, it remains stable at high temperature with a smoking point of 235 degrees celsius without easily oxidize or creating free radicals.
3. Peanut oil: Quite popular oil for cooking in India, peanut oil has a smoking point of 232 degrees celsius. It is helpful in stabilizing blood sugar levels, is a good source of vitamin E, is free of transfat. It is high in monosaturated fats which are heart healthy, but then it’s not suitable if you have nut allergy.
4. Cottonseed oil: This oil has both saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, and though it may not be as healthy as other cooking oils in this list, we have decided to include it because of its high smoking point, which is 216 degrees celsius, suitable for deep frying.
5. Avocado oil: We have saved the best for the last, and that’s because avocado oil has a smoking point of 270 degrees celsius. It has health benefits comparable to olive oil. Avocado oil is rich in saturated fats, especially oleic acid, also has antioxidants, and is great for the heart. It is also rich in minerals and vitamins and suitable for all types of cooking.
While we would have liked to include canola oil in this list, it’s a controversial oil that’s extracted from a seed which was earlier used as a component in lubricant for ships, so leaving that out of the list for now.
Tips To Remember Deep Frying Food:
1. It is not advisable at all to re-use oil once you have deep-fried something. After deep frying, you might notice that the oil has darkened or foamy and thick, and that means the oil is no longer fit for cooking, so it would be wise to dump it rather than putting your health at risk.
2. Deep fry food at medium heat/flame because if the flame is too high, the oil would start to react with oxygen and oxidize.
3. Refined sunflower oil is a popular choice for deep frying in India, but it reaches high temperature, it can create free radicals. Also, it has a higher amount of omega-6 fatty acids which can create inflammation in the body and with regular use, and heightened state of inflammation, the body becomes an easy target for life-threatening diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.
4. It is interesting to note that salt can lower the smoking point of an oil, so use as much less as possible while frying.