By Dr Bhuvaneshwari Shankar, PhD., RD.
In recent times cold-pressed oils have become all the rage. The willingness to try and incorporate these traditional health foods in cooking is definitely making it popular among the health conscious.
Increasing rates of obesity, its associated diseases and awareness of how oil is extracted are few reasons why cold pressed oils are again finding place in our kitchen pantries.
With our markets offering a plethora of options in cooking oils (like gingelly, rice bran, canola, olive oil and so on), it is important to make informed choices. A surefire way to do this right, would be to go the local, non-blended and chemical free route. And if this seems liked a lot of work- ask your grandmother! What they have been traditionally consuming before all the modernisation is the ideal choice.
Extraction by industrial methods, involves various processes like bleaching, steaming, distillation and hydrogenation* - the seeds are exposed to extremely high temperatures to get clear bland oil and chemicals like phosphoric acid, calcium hypo chlorite are added to increase the shelf life of the product which in turn affects not only the flavor and aroma but also strips the oil of all its nutritive values. *The more refined an oil is the less nourishing it will be for our bodies.
Before said refined oils we were traditionally using cold pressed oils- in our local terms, “Chekku ennai/Ghani tel”. No heat or minimal heat was used for crushing/pressing the seeds and the process of production was simple without the addition of any solvent. The end product, thereby was qualitative with nutrients intact - making it ideal for cooking.
Benefits Of Organic Cold-pressed Oil
Unprocessed - No added preservatives and chemicals
Absolutely free of pesticides (which are arguably carcinogenic)
High in Vitamin E and micro nutrients that are vital for our holistic well-being.
Completely free from Trans-fat.
As it is manually filtered, it is more viscous and retains the flavour fully. This helps in lesser consumption (atleast by 20%) of oil as compared to the industrially processed refined oil.
The smoke point of cold pressed groundnut oil is around 160 degree Celsius. The smoke point of refined industrially made groundnut oil is around 210 degree Celsius. The smoke point of cold pressed coconut oil is around 180 deg C. The smoke point of refined industrially made coconut oil is around 210 degree Celsius. There is a myth that deep frying of food in cold pressed manually filtered oil is not good. But given the fact that most of the deep frying in Indian cooking ranges between 120 – 150 degree Celsius, the cold pressed oils are safe for deep frying.
Every oil has its own nutrient profile - as different varieties offer different benefits and possess key role to play in terms of health. The best way to derive the benefits is to use combination of oils depending on the foods that is consumed .