Over a decade ago, this columnist was one of the handful of Diabetologists in the country who resolved to launch a determined campaign against widespread use of so called "refined' oils which were being misguidedly promoted across the length and breadth of the Indian peninsula by self-seeking trio of profit-mongering manufacturers, mutually vying media channels and gullible medical practitioners. There was, then, quite a formidable opposition from protagonists advocating use of these socalled "refined" oils.
Nevertheless, the clock has turned a full circle. And, today, the vindication comes from some of the world's highest medical authorities which outrightly endorse the concept favouring use of Indian ethnic edible oils notably the mustard oil.
In general and more so for Diabetics, mustard oil and not the socalled "refined" oil is the right choice for maintaining an optimum ratio of different fats in the diet. Unfortunately, however, inspite of its Indian ethnic connection, mustard oil is not so widely used for cooking in India and much less so in South India.
In the realms of "Modern Malnutrition", the term " Fat Toxicity" has been coined to describe faulty dietary intake of fats and the consequent hazards. It is to be noted that no drug therapy or medication can fully correct the ill-effects of high fat and refined cereal diets. This has inspired researchers in the fields of Nutrition and Diabetology to reevaluate concepts relating to dietary fats.
The earlier concepts were based mostly on the information available way back in the 1960s when a lot many things were not fully understood. For example, at that time, there was hardly any information available regarding qualitative aspects of fats.
"Refined" oils, which were popularized since 1968 and during the decades that followed, ended up causing more harm than good because they did not take into consideration the relative ratio of different fat ingredients in the edible oil or the cooking medium.
Optimum Ratio of Different Fat Contents
The concept of Omega 6 or N-6 and Omega 3 or N3 fats has virtually revolutionised the entire thinking on the subject.
N-3 fats are required for normal action of Insulin in human body. In addition, N-3 fats offer protection to heart and prevent cancer. Therefore, an optimum ratio of N-6 and N-3 fats in diet is essential for healthy well-being of an individual but the commonly used "refined" oils have a highly disturbed ratio of these ingredients which enhances vulnerability to Diabetes, heart attacks and even cancer.
Contrary to general belief, even the Ghee or coconut oil has a low N-6: N-3 ratio and therefore has no major disadvantages when consumed in limited or moderate quantity.
All said and done, however, the easiest option as an optimally balanced healthy edible oil is mustard oil. Indeed, mustard oil is the right choice.