What are cold pressed oils?
The oils that you use for cooking everything are extracted from seeds, fruits or vegetables and even nuts. Cold pressing is the method of oil extraction from oilseeds which may include sesame seed, sunflower seeds, canola, coconut or olive without really using heat to extract as that may degrade the oil's flavour and nutritional quality. Cold pressing method is the process involving crushing seeds or nuts and forcing out the oil through pressure.
(Also read: How to Make Flavoured Oil: Garlic, Chilli and More Infused Recipes)
Cold pressing is the method of oil extraction from oilseeds
In olden times, a long cylindrical contraption known as 'ghani' was used to extract oil from oilseeds. According to the book A Historical Dictionary of Indian Food by K.T. Achaya, ghani was a mortar and pestle device made of stone or wood that used a perambulating animal to extract oil under pressure from oil-bearing seeds. This was the simplest method for cold pressing oils out of a seed as it didn't involve the generation of too much heat. Nowadays, extraction machines have replaced ghanis that use excessive heat further generating high quantities of oil; however, the quality may suffer.
Are cold pressed oils healthy?
Cold pressed retain healthy antioxidants that are otherwise damaged by being exposed to heat. Antioxidants help combat free radicals that cause cell damage in the body. Most cold pressed oils are rich in vitamin E, which has anti-inflammatory and healing properties. They are also rich sources of oleic acid that help boost your immune system. All these oils when cooked on low heat are excellent oils; however, they lose all the nutrients once exposed to too much heat.
Cold pressed retain healthy antioxidants that are otherwise damaged by being exposed to heat
Should you be cooking with cold pressed oils?
According to Dr. Zamurrud Patel, Nutritionist, Global Hospitals, Mumbai, "Olive, sesame, sunflower, canola and coconut oil can all be used for cooking, however these cold pressed oils shouldn't be used in a huge quantity or shouldn't be exposed to a lot of heat." While it is generally recommended to cook with cold pressed oils as they not only give a rich flavour to the food but are also healthy; however, cooking with these oils may be slightly tricky. These kinds of oils don't really mix well with heat, which is the sole reason why they are not extracted through heating techniques. These oils have a lot of unsaturated fats which tend to degrade when exposed to heat. If you use these oils for deep frying or sauteing, the unsaturated fats may break down making them unsafe for consumption. Oils like sesame oil and olive work best when sprinkled over the cooked food.
If you plan to switch to cold pressed oils, make sure you are not heating them too much, use them on top of salads, breads and cooked meats for a combination of flavour and health.
A lot has been said about different types of oils; among which cold pressed oils have been the most talked about. Recently, many experts have pronounced cold pressed oils as healthy alternative to cooking oils. They are known to be cholesterol free, are unrefined or unprocessed, do not contain harmful solvent residues and contain natural antioxidants that are beneficial for the body. But have you ever wondered how cold pressed oils are made? How are they different from refined oils that we use in the kitchens to cook food and do they even make for a healthy alternative to cooking oils? If this has got you thinking, we unveil the answers for you.