10 September, 2017
Every person over the age of 50 must have once used only these cold pressed oils. There was a time when oil was pressed in their huge ancestral homes, if there was one, in a village. Oil was alternatively bought from the shop in oil cans or bottles, or fresh from an oil mill, ground from the seeds given by them. All this just disappeared with the appearance of bright, coloured packets of oil. What cost very little back then now costs more than packed oil. But first, let us understand more about cold-pressed oils.
Cold-pressing is the traditional method of extracting oil from seeds/fruits. The raw material (sesame/ peanut/ coconut/ sunflower seeds) is typically ground into a paste, and this is then pressed with a heavy stone mill ( turned by bullocks back then, but now by machine) until it expels the oil. This first-pressed oil is sold unrefined, and without any additives. There is a certain type of wood used for pressing too.
Cold-pressed oils have all their nutrients intact, retaining the natural properties of the oil-seeds, unlike refined oil. Refining degrades nutritional value, and more significantly, introduces harmful trans fats in an attempt to improve shelf life for commercial reasons.
But, refined oils, produced on a large scale and backed by vigorous media campaigns, has been the main reason for the fading away of traditionally extracted oils. But now again with everybody, in general, being more aware of everything organic and natural, it’s increasingly becoming popular again but with a costly price tag attached to it.
Looking back, understanding the importance of including more than one variety of cold-pressed oil in the diet, South Indian menus have always incorporated three — groundnut oil (with its high heating point) for frying, coconut oil for dressing, and sesame oil for curries and gravies. All the three have their own amazing health benefits. All these oils are packed with nutrients and are extremely beneficial to everyone, unlike packed oil that is available in the market, and contain added chemicals. As much as coconut oil has been receiving bad publicity for being high in saturated fatty acids, which are considered potential artery cloggers, ironically it has medium chain fatty acids that are seen as heart protectors.
But whichever oil you use, use it sparingly as one gram of oil has 9 calories; 1 teaspoon, therefore, has 45 calories, the equivalent of half a chapatti. Remember, the unburned calories might not be too good for you. The logic we need to understand and follow is to look back at our traditional methods of cooking, rather than on convenient new methods. And whatever we eat, we need to eat in moderation and burn it too- the only way to stay healthy and happy!
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