The War on Oils: Cold Pressed Oil v/s Refined Oil

The War on Oils: Cold Pressed Oil v/s Refined Oil

A debate once sparked about which cooking oil is best suited to our health needs, and it has not settled down ever since. Cooking oils are used in a large number of dishes and they impact our nutrition greatly, which quite explains why the debate around them exists in the first place.

From rice bran to mustard to olive oil, people try to choose the healthiest oil out there, be it for weight loss reasons or nutritional needs. But, do you know that the way these oils are extracted also has a huge impact on our health? Yes, even the method of extraction of these oils can influence our health significantly.

Of all sorts that exist out there, the real heated debate is between cold-pressed and refined oil. In this blog post, we will discuss both these sorts of oils and which is the better choice.

Cold-pressed oil

As the name suggests, cold-pressed oils are extracted in minimal heat. Seeds are pressed slowly with a modern steel press with very low heat generation. This helps in keeping most of the nutrients and flavors intact.

‘Chekku’, ‘Ghani’, and ‘Kolhu’ are some of the words traditionally used in India to suggest cold-pressed oils. In older times, a long cylindrical vessel, known as ‘Ghani’, was used to extract oils.

Refined/hot-pressed oils

Again, as the name suggests, refined oils, also known as hot-pressed oils, use heat to extract oil from oilseeds. The process involves cleaning the seeds and then grinding them at a very high speed which generates heat up to 200 degrees Celsius. Some chemicals are also added during this process, and that is how refined oils are extracted. Refined oils are extracted for edible, as well as machine oils.

Many oils such as sunflower and rice bran are obtained through this process only because they go through the solvent extraction method which could leave behind some solvent residue. However, the refinement process that is followed is as per the guidelines prescribed by FSSAI.

The difference between the two

Besides being obtained through processes, there are also other major and minor differences between cold-pressed oils and refined oils. Since cold-pressed oils are obtained through a meticulous process, they are high in nutritional value. Omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamin E, and oleic acid are all found in abundance in cold-pressed oils.

As far as refined oils go, it is pretty common that it lacks all the nutritious goodness found in cold-pressed oils. The reason is the excess heat in its extraction process and several rounds of filtration through harmful chemicals. While fats are also found in refined oil, they aren’t the good ones. Moreover, refined oils are just empty calories. After going through such a rough extraction process, the oilseeds grow deficient in any organic ingredients. 

Should you go for cold-pressed oils?

If we had to sum up the answer in one word, then YES. Cold-pressed oils are the obvious choice to go with, especially when competing against nutrition-deficient refined oils. Refined oils lose most of their nutrition when exposed to high heat. Anything that gets exposed to excess heat is bound to lose its nutrition content.

The case is entirely different for cold-pressed oils. This is also the reason why cold-pressed shouldn’t be exposed to much heat even while cooking. The more it gets exposed to heat, the more deficient it grows in nutrition. It is best preferred to use cold-pressed oils by sprinkling them onto your food. Some commonly available cold-pressed oils are:

  • Virgin coconut oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Mustard oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Peanut oil

Final thoughts

While we do believe that we haven’t settled the debate between the two oils entirely, we hope we’ve helped steer you toward the better choice for yourself. Remember, healthy cooking is all about which cooking oil you use.