CHENNAI: Sundal, murukku, seedai — what lends these snacks that indulgent taste that keeps you grabbing more? It could be the spices or the base ingredients or your grandmother’s secret ingredient, but in my opinion, the key has always been the subtle flavour of the groundnut oil. You are likely to find at least one bottle in any Tamizh household. “Groundnut oil is typically used in south Indian cuisine for deep frying, seasoning and in side dishes,” begins Harini Pachaiyappan, clinical nutritionist at Rainbow Children’s Hospital.
The household oil can be of various types, depending on the technique of extraction and processing. The most commonly used ones are refined, cold-pressed, gourmet and groundnut oil blends. “Being a vegetable oil, it has no cholesterol and is also free of trans fat. It is a rich source of vitamin E,” shares Preethi Rahul, registered dietician. Yet, any oil requires moderation.
Though often used to fry food due to its high smoking point, groundnut oil still holds some nutritional merit, as elaborated by Harini and Preethi below:
Set for satiety
Like all other oils, groundnut oil enables the body to reach satiety quickly.
The deficiency of vitamin E in a woman’s body can cause pregnancy failure. Peanut oil, being a rich source of the nutrient, can thus reduce the chances of spontaneous abortions and stillbirths, mentions Harini.
For the health of the foetus and the mother, the consumption of fatty acids is vital. Essential fatty acids that can be found in this oil also relax the muscles and blood vessels and ease the process of childbirth, states Harini.
For a healthy heart
The vitamin E in groundnut oil is also good for the heart. The nutrient, which is known to be an antioxidant, may help reduce the risk of heart diseases, shares Preethi.
An option for diabetics
This oil has a generous amount of monounsaturated fatty acids, and the main type of MUFA present is oleic acid or omega-9 fatty acid. This helps to keep a check on type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular health.
Alternative to refined oil
“In a review of 102 clinical studies by Imamura et al (2016), researchers found that replacing just five per cent of saturated fatty acids with polyunsaturated fatty acids can lead to a reduction in HbA1c levels — an important marker of blood glucose. It can also lower c-peptide and HOMA levels; markers of insulin resistance,” states Preethi. In this case, one can consider switching from refined oil to groundnut oil.
(PER TBsP OR 15 MG)
Calories: 119 kcals
Saturated fat: 2.3g
PUFA: 4.3 g
Phytosterols: 28 mg
Source: Harini Pachaiyappan, Rainbow Children's Hospital
Those with a peanut allergy must avoid this oil.
Those who have stroke issues must limit the use of this oil.
Groundnut oil is prone to oxidation and quickly turns rancid. It is advisable to purchase the oil in smaller quantities and consume it within a short period of time.