Forgotten Treasures-Ghee, Gingelly Oil and Coconut Oil

The moment we see these words-oil and fat, we immediately correlate them with unhealthiness and obesity. Everyone thinks that butter will make them fatter, ghee will make them obese and on top of all, coconut oil will give them a heart attack! We all have fallen a prey to the marketing campaigns of corporations that industrially processed oils like sunflower oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil, corn oil and even worse, canola oil and margarine are good for our health and have completely ditched the precious ones which our ancestors have been using for ages.

I use coconut and gingelly oil for regular cooking with a moderate amount of ghee, everyday. It is really heartbreaking that we have ditched them completely and our tastebuds have got used to the industrially processed refined oil. My mother found it very strange to see these oils in my kitchen- she hasn't used them either except ghee. As far as I could remember, my mother used palm oil for her cooking and sunflower oil was considered something up-class. Then after the mass marketing campaigns, we shifted to sunflower oil as well and gingelly oil was only used for making certain food types that hold medicinal value.


Let me reiterate, the traditionally used oils are very good for our health and we have to stick to them to keep us away from many unknown diseases and inflammations. It is such a pity that we have completely taken ghee out of our regular cooking and it is only being used for the preparation of sweets. We gave in to the propaganda than ghee causes obesity and depend on supplements to get our vitamins. Ghee is rich in many fat soluble vitamins that are essential for our health and holds a lot of medicinal value. Back home, ghee and gingelly oil are used in large quantities to prepare special food for the new mothers and girls who've attained puberty. There are numerous credible information on the net that can tell you about the health benefits of Ghee, but here are some of them:
  • Ghee is a rich source of fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin K2, A, D and E
  • It has the good fats like Omega 3
  • It holds many medicinal benefits-we've been using it for many years for preparing medicinal foods
  • It is good for your digestion, and it is especially good for our children.

Gingelly Oil  

The next one in the list is of course, my favourite, Gingelly or Sesame oil. It is widely used in South India and is believed to have numerous health benefits. My dishes taste wonderful with gingelly oil, especially mutton and fish. It is a rich source of magnesium, an essential mineral which many of us are deficient of and it can also be used for treating certain ailments like an aching stomach, where the application of the oil in the abdominal area will give an immediate relief. It is also believed to have a cooling effect on our body. Here are some of the benefits of gingelly oil you should be aware of:

  • Helps Prevent Diabetes – Thanks to magnesium and other nutrients, sesame seeds, and especially sesame oil, has been shown to combat diabetes.
  • Reduces Blood Pressure – As the above study concludes, sesame oil has been shown to lower blood pressure in hypertensive diabetics. Additionally, magnesium has been shown to help lower blood pressure – and sesame seeds are loaded with magnesium.
  • Promotes Heart Health - Further adding to the health benefits of sesame seeds, sesame seed oil can boost heart health by preventing atherosclerotic lesions. An antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound known as sesamol, which also harnesses anti-atherogenic properties, is thought to be one reason for the beneficial effects. According to GreenMedInfo, sesamol has been shown to “possess over two dozen beneficial pharmacologically active properties, many of which may contribute to improving cardiovascular health”.
  • Protects Against DNA Damage from Radiation - Sesamol, a compound found in sesame seeds and sesame oil, has been shown in some studies to protect against DNA damaged caused by radiation
  • Prevents Cancer – Not only do sesame seeds contain an anti-cancer compound called phytate, but the magnesium in sesame seeds also harness anti-cancer properties. 
  • Boosts Bone Health - In addition to promoting healthy skin, zinc has also been shown to boost bone mineral density and bone health as a whole. 
  For more information, please read on: Natural Society

Coconut Oil 

Our lives have been tied so much with coconut that we found a use in coconut in almost everything- from cooking to beautifying oneself. We make coconut rice, a very special pudding called vattalappam  made out of coconut milk and coconut sugar, sprinkle shredded coconut on stir fried vegetables, and grounded coconut paste for making meat gravies, coconut milk with bananas that would accompany our morning breakfast and the list goes on. But we seldom use coconut oil for cooking purposes and I found that lost treasure only after coming to the UAE. Thanks to the Keralite population again, for the abundance of coconuts and coconut oils here, my veggies are sauteed with them regularly. As popularly believed, coconut oil will not increase your cholesterol levels, in fact, it will only reduce it for you.

"Coconut oil has a saturated fat called lauric acid, a type of MCT. It has been shown that lauric acid increases the good HDL cholesterol in the blood to help improve cholesterol ratio levels.  Coconut oil lowers cholesterol by promoting its conversion to pregnenolone, a molecule that is a precursor to many of the hormones our bodies need. Coconut can help restore normal thyroid function. When the thyroid does not function optimally, it can contribute to higher levels of bad cholesterol." Source

Please read on this link from Wellness Mama about how coconut oil can positively impact our cardiac health and also that the saturated fat content is not as dangerous as it is propagated by the mainstream media.

Also read: Once a Villain, Coconut Oil Charms the Health Food World

Top 10 Evidence based health benefits of coconut oil

Clearly, the choice is between what is good, rich in nutrients and what is toxic. If you are to believe what is claimed on the advertisements about these oils, you will only end up ruining your health. I found it really strange when there are ads running in Indian TV channels that a newly innovated 'corn and olive oil' will give them a good health. What a bitter lie! It has to be remembered that the modern 'vegetable oils' that we consume today are the ones that give us the heart disease and not the traditionally used ones. They are full of Omega 6 and other chemicals which are highly toxic, therefore making it unfit for human consumption. It is such an irony that we believe these oils are healthier, just by looking at the label that it is trans-fat free!

"Vegetable oils contain a very high concentration of Omega 6 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats, which cause an imbalance of these oils in the body. Omega 6 fats are easily oxidized with heat or light exposure. This is another reason that when these types of fats/oils are incorporated into tissue like skin cells, the heat and light from sun exposure can increase skin cancer risk." Link 

In this wonderful article you will find six reasons why vegetable oils are toxic, for the reason that they are industrially processed and has elements that will mess up with your body's functions.

So, let us just stick to the basics. Ask your mother or your grandmother about their food habits and try to get them back in to your kitchen. Olive oil, mustard oil, groundnut oil- anything that has been used for ages have a lot of health benefits. Of course, these oils are more expensive than the regular vegetable oils. But it is better to spend on good health than on medicines. Try to slowly eliminate them from your cooking by using whichever suits your taste first and then move on slowly to eliminate the vegetable oils. I still use sunflower oil for some frying and discard the oil after one use. Insha Allah I will soon stop using that too.  Never buy corn or soybean oil as they are highly likely to be Genetically Modified. 


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