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OILS AND FATS

Olive Pomace oil – Liquid gold for healthy Indian cooking
Tuesday, 04 May, 2021, 16 : 00 PM [IST]
Akshay Modi
The year 2020 has been an eye opener in many ways. Not only did it lead to introspection on life in general, it changed quite a few perspectives about eating habits, fitness and cooking.

Cooking food today is no longer a scheduled task of bringing in the ingredients together, cooking and eating. There is a lot of awareness, conscience awakening and science attached. Right from raw vegetables, meats and even oils used, consumers today have questions about what they are consuming, what is the source of the raw materials, the formulation and production.

Oil is an essential ingredient used in Indian cooking since time immemorial. Frying, stir frying, shallow frying, pan frying, grilling, barbequing, baking, kneading. There isn’t any component of cooking where oil doesn’t feature, even if it means a slight drizzle. It’s where it all starts and ends.

For generations, the traditional mindset in using a particular kind and brand of oil has had a very ‘hand me down’ approach, something we have seen in our ‘Great Indian Kitchens’ and followed until recently. Sunflower and Groundnut oil have constituted as majority in the cooking oils segment followed closely by Mustard oil.

Today, there is a variety of cooking oils available in the Indian market and thanks to exposure to international standards and a whole new category of olive oil, Indian consumers are spoilt for choice but are they making the right choice? How does one know the oil they’ve been using isn’t doing more harm than benefitting? While there have been a few constants that have proven to be ideal choices for the palate and health, there are others whose properties are second to none but haven’t gained wide spread popularity. One such variant is Olive Pomace oil.

Olive oil actually comes in a number of forms, color, taste, and acidity level along with three variants: Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (Evoo), Refined Olive Oil and Olive Pomace Oil.

Evoo – Cold pressed olive oil with acidity below 0.3% is considered Evoo. Owing to its aroma and flavor, it is suitable for making salads, dressings, flavourings or condiments for salads, pastas, rice, vegetables, meat and fish. It is also rich in anti-oxidants when eaten in raw/cold form. However, it may not the right choice for typical Indian – high temperature - cooking.

Olive pomace is the right oil for Indian cooking because of its extraction process, it is stable at high temperatures and contains higher Tocopherol and Squalene than even extra virgin olive oil. Tocopherol and Squalene are forms of Vitamin E which have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties for the body and is great for skin. Other properties such as its fatty acid profile (eg. mono-unsaturated fatty acid) are the same as that jar of extra virgin olive oil that graces the aisle at the supermarket. In fact, it has the same composition as extra virgin olive oil. What’s more, it is completely neutral in taste, therefore, making it liquid gold for healthy Indian Cooking.

For taste:
It is the perfect companion for desi food. It is a light oil with a neutral taste and flavour. Indian food encompasses a wide variety of regional and traditional cuisines and they all vary significantly from each other. It can be used for all Indian cooking and the taste is quite incredible.

For health:
While we face the second wave of the pandemic, it’s prudent to stay fit, eat right and follow a healthy lifestyle. The choice of cooking oil plays a major part in this. Choosing an oil that has necessary fats and zero cholesterol that are helpful for weight loss and maintaining a low-calorie diet is what one needs today. It is 80% monosaturated that can lower the cholesterol level.  Monosaturated fats are healthy fats with fatty acid profile (high MUFA) like other Olive Oils found in olive oil, avocados and certain nuts. It also brings the additional benefit of Vitamin E for better immunity and tissue repair with Vitamin K for better bone density and health.

For cooking:
It is light, neutral in taste and healthier than other edible oils, and is stable at high temperatures. This helps beat the myth that Olive oil is not good for Indian cooking. What’s more, the great thing about it is, that since it is absorbed less by food, it is great for healthy cooking and affordable at the same time, as it will be consumed less.

For beauty:
Apart from uses in kitchen, it can be used to treat skin problems and hair problems by using a little bit of it on the damaged scalp to treat dryness. Similarly, one can also use it in the bath to rejuvenate dry skin.

It is cost effective in comparison to the other grades of olive oil but when compared to the cost of regular soya bean, sunflower or the peanut oil, it is priced at premium.

(The author is joint managing director for Modi Naturals)
 
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