The Truth: About Refined Cooking Oil

Approximately over 100 million tons of edible oils are being consumed annually in India. That’s a lot of Oil.

The presence of toxins even in small quantities may have profound effect on the health and well-being of the common masses including me and you.

Most people believe that brands like Saffola and other refined oils are healthy for us, as they claim to reduce cholesterol. Below is a detailed process of how cooking oil is refined for you to decide if you still think it is healthy for you.

Oil refining is a process where crude oils; i.e. natural oils from vegetables are refined to remove any substances that may contribute to off flavor, off odor, undesirable color, or for keeping standardization, and standardization is required because if 100 million tons are being sold, there would be chaos at the supermarket if every bottle would be different in color and clarity as it is naturally supposed to be.

Step 1: “Washing” of oil using water, salts and acids in order to remove waxes, phosphates and other impurities.

Step 2: Oil undergoes a neutralization process. Alkali which is soap mixed with oil and heated to 180F. A separator then removes the soap from the oil.

Step 3: The oil is subjected to “physical” refinement to remove odor compounds by vacuum steam distillation process.

Step 4: Next the oil is subjected to cooling. By doing this, some fats will crystallize and are removed using filtration.

Step 5: The oil is then bleached. This process stabilized the oil. Bleaching involves using clay to remove color and impurities from the oil. Oil is bleached by heating it to 130F, and mixing with clay. The mixture is held for several minutes and then the hot oil is filtered from the clay and cooled.

Step 6: Hydrogenation process is completed by pumping pressurized hydrogen into an agitated tank filled with oil. This must be done in the presence of a catalyst metal, such as nickel. Hydrogenation is done at 204C and pressure of 60psig.

Do we want to be eating the end result of this rigorous procedure? It has already been the cause of much illness, continuing to eat this is to ask for irreversible damage to health.

Testing survey work carried out: This project was undertaken to spell out the heavy metal contamination in edible oils, especially the chemically processed ones like Hydrogenated vegetable oils & Refined oils. For example Nickel is used as a hydrogenating catalyst for hardening of vegetable oils. Nickel has adverse effect on Respiratory system, liver, skin, metabolism, interaction with DNA/RNA, crosses Placental barrier also carcinogenic action.
Popular brands of HVO viz. Rath, Ruchi,Gagan, Dalda, Panghat, Suhagin, No.1, Postman, Vital, Crystal, Saffola, Dalda refined, Dhara etc. were collected randomly from the local market belonging to different batch numbers and subjected to testing/screening for the presence of heavy metals.

Following the discovery of high nickel residual contents in the edible vegetable oils including hydrogenated vegetable oils, the Indian Prevention of Food Adulteration Act has been amended to incorporate the fixing of maximum upper limit of Nickel (1.5 ppm) in the vegetable oils. But please note, it’s still allowed and if it’s a small quantity it all eventually adds up!

Bottom line

Refining is accomplished with the addition of sodium hydroxide and temperatures around 450 degrees. The refined oil is not considered edible without further processing, such as filtration, deodorization, bleaching.

The process of refining oils is equivalent to the refining of whole wheat and whole sugar into white ones. In all cases, one takes a product full of natural vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other food factors and reduces the original natural food into a relative “nonfood”—devitalized, stripped.

Crude oils i.e. cold pressed Oil, retain their natural anti-oxidants; which contains all its natural vitamin A, all its natural vitamin E, all its natural lecithin, and all of the other natural food factors.

Refined oils find their way into the human food chain and become the raw material for every cell in your body. Countless diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, allergies, emphysema, stomach ulcers, premature aging, impotence, hypoglycemia and arthritis exist because chemically synthesized substances disrupt the bio-chemistry of hundreds of billions of microscopic living cells which make up the body.

The life of most cells is short; new cells are constantly being made to replace dead ones. The raw materials for this rebuilding come from the blood stream. When it contains toxins, the process of rebuilding cells is disrupted. Resistance to disease diminishes. If you have a genetic weakness and continue to eat refined oil, the cumulative effect of toxins will increase the risk of becoming a host to disease.

Eradicating every guilty pleasure in life is not the end goal here, nor is it a particularly realistic approach to making changes…we all enjoy the occasional pav bhaji, cheeseburger, fries, or bag of chips. But it’s important to understand the consequences of making what ought to be an occasional treat into your mainstay diet.

Opt for unrefined sesame or mustard oil when it comes to cooking . Make sure to not use Extra Virgin Olive oil for cooking as it has a low burn point.

OIL, SALT & SUGAR are basics that we all require and are important for good health. At least make sure these are natural and pure.

Written by Sejal Vora

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27 thoughts on “The Truth: About Refined Cooking Oil

  1. Simran

    Ohhh… this is really ver good one. but please elaborate the point “where crude oils; i.e. natural oils from vegetables “. Please include few vegetable names here. because I always have question about raw material of Refined oils.


    1. Hi Simran,

      I am not sure i fully understand your question. but what i understand is that you want to know what oils you can use to cook.
      Opt for unrefined sesame or mustard oil when it comes to cooking . Make sure to not use Extra Virgin Olive oil for cooking as it has a low burn point.

      love & light

  2. Nitin Deshpande

    Good Article. But would like to go beyond this also to the point where oil is extracted from seeds or kernels. The technology and economics has outwitted the natural process of extracting oil that is expeller. We now have the solvent extraction process for extracting oil. Even if you evaporate the hexane from oil there is a quantity, may be in ppb, remains in oil. We definitely can not make fool of our system as you have written herein above. This chemical also interferes with the body system. Therefor I feel that a one step back to unrefined oil i.e. expelled oil is always better. Any way very good article but unfortunately the commercial voices are so loud, its very hard to convince people. All the best.

  3. I am an edible oil professional myself and there are lot of flaws in the description above, but the essence is right…we need to have unrefined oils like sesame oil, olive oil, peanut oil but if the entire population wants to eat a premium oil like sesame oil we shall not have enough oil at all, the refined oils were created so that we could consume the non edible oils like cotton seed, solvent extracted soyabean oils etc but we cant stem the tide…we are now addicted to the refined foods…refined flour like maida…refined oils..refined sugar…juices….and there is no room in our diet for cold pressed oils, raw sugar, whole grains, raw fruits…..

  4. Pingback: | The Present Situation – Various Practices Adopted in Processing and Dealing with Food at various stages

  5. arif

    i want to know that the what is best oil for cooking ………..if i expelled peanut oil at home ..this is good or bed???????????

    1. naturally refined avocado oil is super and has high burning point great for all frying sauteing,but make sure it is naturally refined ,also coconut oil is amazing,virgin is good for medium heat naturally refined is good for high heat, grapeseed oil is great for medium to high cooking

  6. Atul

    What about ghee – cow or buffalo? It is not refined as far as know. Are these healthier choices compared with refined oils?
    And what about coconut oil.

  7. Kanishk

    I want to know if unrefined oil ( for Eg Rice or mustard or groundnut ) is same as Cold pressed or there is some difference in that. Suppose I buy cold pressed Groundnut oil so it is different from Unrefined or its the same nomenclature. Please clarify.

  8. rakesh gorkal

    Where can we get unrefined oil in Bangalore, India.
    Also is cold pressed oil nothing but unrefined oil. If no what is the diff

    1. Hi Rakesh,
      Unrefined oils are minimal heat processed oils (cold or expeller pressed) that have not been bleached or deodorized after extraction. Refined oils have been bleached and or deodorized.
      you can now buy oils online with great ease.

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