Common Cooking Oils and Their Effects on Health

Common Cooking Oils and Their Effects on Health

As the name suggests, cooking oils are used to cook food. It is unimaginable to cook Pakistani cuisine without the use of some type of cooking oil. But do you know what their effects are on our health? 

Some oils contain high saturated fat content that can lead to heart and many other health problems. 

Many of us don’t even know that healthy oils can become a potential threat to health if heated beyond their smoke point. Let us take the example of extra-virgin olive. Do you know this otherwise healthy oil becomes dangerous to consume when cooked beyond a certain temperature? 

So, the question is which is the best or healthiest cooking oil in Pakistan? 

Though there is no clear answer, we must look at common cooking oils, their health benefits and hazards to determine which is the most suitable for you.

Olive Oil

People mostly shy away from using oils due to their high fat content. But good fats in moderate quantities are beneficial for our health. Olive oil is the first that strikes our minds when we talk about healthy oils. It is due to its special composition (high in good fats and low in bad fats). However, olive oils have multiple types and some are not beneficial for cooking purposes. Let us discuss them here. 


Common types of olive oil 

Here are some common types of olive oil and their uses.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra-virgin is the purest form of olive oil. It is extracted by the cold pressing method that preserves its natural contents. It has low acidic content (0.1% to 0.3%) and retains natural flavor and aroma. It is beneficial when used on salads or even when drunk directly (with a spoon) in moderate amounts. You cannot cook food in it because it cannot endure medium to high temperatures.

Smoke Point (Temperature): Around 350°F / 177°C to 410°F / 210°C

Virgin Olive Oil

It is the second purest type of olive oil. Virgin olive oil is also extracted by the cold press method but has more acidic content (average 2%). It can endure more temperature than the extra-virgin olive oil. Thus, you can use it for cooking at low temperatures. It is best to use for salad dressing or to be consumed in raw form. 

Refined Olive Oil

Refined olive oil has almost the same fat content as the other types. However, it is considered of lower quality than the virgin and extra virgin olive oils. It is due to the chemicals used to refine the natural olive oil. Due to this, its smoke temperature/point is more than the both versions mentioned above. Therefore, many use it for moderate cooking. 

Smoke Point (Temperature): Around 470°F / 243°C

Pure Olive Oil

Pure olive oil is the blend of refined and extra virgin / virgin olive oils. When the extraction quality of the refined oil is not good enough, it is mixed with high grade oil to improve its overall standard. It has almost the same temperature as the refined one. 

Olive Pomace Oil

Olive Pomace Oil has the lowest quality when we compare it with other ones. It is extracted from the residue of olive fruit.  

Smoke Point (Temperature): Around 464°F / 240°C

Olive Oil Health Benefits

  • Rich in healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated)
  • Contains high amount of antioxidants
  • Have anti-inflammatory properties
  • May help prevent strokes
  • May help fight Alzheimer’s disease
  • May reduce risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Reduces bad cholesterol (LDL)

Olive Oil Side Effects

There are some side effects of using olive oil. They are not so common and are associated with too much consumption, 

  • Causes acne and other skin allergies to some people
  • Gallbladder stones/blockage (due to too much consumption)

Olive Oil Price in Pakistan

The price of olive oil varies a lot in Pakistan. However you can buy olive oil (extra virgin) for an average price of Rs.1500 to Rs.2,000 per litre. 1 liter Olive Pomace Oil will cost you around Rs.1,000 to Rs.1,200. 

Sunflower Oil

When we talk about cooking oils, sunflower oil is among the most popular ones. It is extracted from the seeds of sunflower plants. It is considered healthy due to high unsaturated fat content. However, too much consumption is always bad.

It is also important to note that some companies mix sunflower oil with palm oil and sell it as pure sunflower oil. This type of oil comes with risks associated with palm oil consumption. So, be cautious about what you are buying.


There are three types of sunflower oil (high linoleic, mid-oleic (NuSun), and high oleic). All of them have the same saturated fat content but varying amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. It means all of these types are the same when we talk about bad fat content and good fat content. 

Smoke point (temperature): Around 449°F / 232°C

Sunflower Oil Health Benefits

  • May reduce high cholesterol levels
  • May reduce risk of heart disease
  • May improve brain and nerve health
  • May speed up wound healing

Sunflower Oil Side Effects

The following are some risks associated with the over or long time consumption of sunflower oil:

  • Cancer (especially when used for deep frying or high temperature cooking)
  • Allergic reactions
  • May increase weight (over consumption)

Sunflower Oil Price in Pakistan

You can buy sunflower oil at an average price of Rs.500 to Rs.550 per liter.

Canola Oil

Scientists in Canada genetically modified rapeseed plants and made Canola crops. The name Canola is derived from “Canada and ola (oil)”. This plant has been developed and modified for many years and has led to drastic improvements in its seed quality. It has led to a boom in canola oil production. 

The production of canola oil is complicated as compared to the other ones. There are multiple methods for its extraction. However, the most common methods include pressing and solvent extraction. 

It contains a good amount of Vitamin E and K. Its saturated fat content is the lowest (7%) among the others. It is the reason why many consider it the best for heart health. 

Smoke Point (temperature): Around 399°F / 204°C


Canola Oil Benefits for Cooking

  • Good for heart health (moderate consumption)
  • May reduce fracture risk
  • May prevent type 2 diabetes

Canola Oil Side Effects

  • Might imbalance the omega-6 fats and omega 3 fats in the body
  • Highly refined due to the complicated process
  • Increased inflammation (especially when use in frying)
  • Impact on memory (long term or high consumption)

Canola Oil Price in Pakistan

You can buy canola oil at an average price of Rs.500 to Rs.550 per liter.

Mustard Oil

Mustard oil also known as “sarson ka tail” is among the most popular oils in Pakistan. It is extracted from the seeds of mustard plant (sarson). It has a high smoke point of around 248°C. It is the reason why it is beneficial for cooking at high temperatures. However, it is not popular for cooking due to its pungent aroma and strong flavor. It is commonly used in pickles, and for sauteing, and stir-frying.

This oil is not produced by the big cooking oil companies in Pakistan. So, you will have to get it in raw form. Most people use it as massage oil, hair and skin treatment serum. But its health benefits are also pretty impressive if used for cooking. 

Smoke Point (temperature): Around 478°F / 248°C


Mustard Oil Benefits in Cooking 

  • May block microbial growth
  • May improve skin and hair health
  • May relieve pain
  • May slow down the cancer cell growth
  • May support heart health
  • Anti-inflammatory properties may reduce inflammation

Mustard Oil Side Effects

  • May cause myocardial lipidosis ( a heart problem) due to erucic acid (in high consumption)
  • May lead to dropsy
  • May cause irritation (due to allyl isothiocyanate in it)
  • May cause Rhinitis (due to excessive use)
  • May affect pregnancy (fetus growth)

Mustard Oil Price in Pakistan

You can buy mustard oil at an average price of Rs.600 to Rs.800 per liter.

These were some of the most common cooking oils in Pakistan. You can choose the most suitable for yourself by analyzing the pros and cons of each. Price is also a major factor when you decide to buy one. It is important to remember that no oil is healthy if you consume it regularly in high amounts. Also, cooking methods matter a lot as every oil has some side-effects when it is used for frying. 

Which cooking oil do you prefer and why? Share your opinion in the comments section below. 

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