How Safe is the Use of Reheated Cooking Oil?

Oil is an integral part of cooking, especially Indian cooking. Being quick,frying remain one of the popular methods in food preparation. Ready to eat food consumption too had increased many folds.Restaurants and even at our  home, oil is reheated and  reused until it is discarded and replaced with fresh oil. However, how many of us are actually aware of potential health hazards of reheated oil.

How does reheating cause bad effects?

Reheating of oil undergoes series of chemical changes, producing some harmful substances which can cause ailments in the long run.

Along with minor complications like heart burn, acidity, irritable throat (due to inhalation), recycling cooking oil can make it  rancid or spoiled. In addition to having strange flavours and odors, reheating of oil generates Free radicals. Free radicals can  attach themselves to healthy cells and lead to diseases. These free radicals can be carcinogenic i.e. can cause cancer and also atherosclerosis which can lead to increase in bad cholesterol levels and  blocking the arteries.

Reheating vegetable oils like sunflower or corn oil has been found to release high concentrations of chemicals called Aldehydes, which have been linked too to illnesses including cancer, heart disease and neurodegenerative changes like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and dementia.

Experts say that on heating even the best quality of edible oil several times, releases toxic aldehydes and the more times the oil is reheated, the concentration of the toxic chemicals become higher making it more injurious to health. These toxins then reacts with human proteins, enzymes and hormones, which can lead to serious health problems.

Studies have also found a toxin called 4-hydroxy-trans-2-nonenal (HNE) forms when such oils as canola, corn, soybean and sunflower oils are reheated.

Trans fats are even worse than saturated animal fats,once absorbed in the body, the HNE reacts with DNA, RNA and proteins affecting basic cellular processes. HNE is found to be associated with increased risks of cardiovascular disease,stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, various liver disorders and cancer.

Factors affecting damage by oil during recooking

There is no set number to how many times one can reuse the oil as it depends on factors like which oil was used, how long frying was done, temperature of oil while frying, smoke point of oil,storage conditions.

Oil you use:

  • Smoke point is the temperature at which oil starts to burn or begins to smoke producing harmful chemicals. Basically, oils with high smoking point do not break down at high temperature.Not only they are safe but  can be reused for frying, deep frying.
  • Products like extra virgin olive oil contain a great deal of non-fat components, like the anti-oxidants, so it tends to have a lower smoke point. Very refined oils have a higher smoking point.
  • Vegetable oil has high smoke point than oil of animal origin.Refined oils have higher smoke point than unrefined oils.
  • Every time the oil is reheated, smoke point dips.
  • Oils with high smoking point-Sunflower, Safflower, Soybean, Rice bran, Peanut, Sesame, Mustard and Canola oil.
  • On the other hand oils with low smoke point  like olive oil should be used for sautéing, steaming, stewing and as a salad dressing
  • Choose a oil low in linoleic acid, such as olive oil and canola oil. HNE is more likely to build up in oils with high levels of linoleic acid.
  • Oils with the highest percentage of linoleic acid are safflower oil, grape seed oil, sunflower oil, and corn oil. So avoid these oils for deep frying.
  • Don’t mix different types of oils

Temperature of Oil while cooking:

  • Ideal temperature for frying is 375°F. Frying foods at or above 375°F can lead to the accumulation of 4-hydroxy-2-trans-nonenal (HNE) in the oil.
  • So,when heating oil to very high temperatures, use a thermometer to ensure that you’re not heating the oil above 375°F or 190°C.
  • Turn off the heat after you are done cooking. Exposing oil to prolonged heat accelerates rancidity.
  • Avoid iron or copper pots or pans for frying oil that is to be reused. These metals also accelerate rancidity.
  • Hot oils tend to polymerize—their molecules join together into much bigger molecules that give the oil a thick, gummy consistency and a darker color,can be seen settled down at the bottom of  a container after the oil cooled down.

Storage of oil:

  • Fats are susceptible to oxidation when they are exposed to light, heat and oxygen so try and keep your oils tightly sealed in a cool, dry cupboard.

Points to be kept in mind for usage of  reheated oil

  • Try to limit the quantity of oil used,use only required quantity of oil.Fresh oil every time is the best way to avoid future complication , it is not really practical due to economical reasons.cooking-oil
  • If well-strained, properly stored and not overheated on first use, these oils should be safe to reuse.
  • Minimize food contamination while frying
  • Food particles in the oil can spoil the oil much sooner than expected.
  • Avoid adding salt to food before deep-frying, because salt lowers an oil’s smoke point. Once oil smokes, it is no longer safe nor desirable to reuse.
  • Try to minimize the amount of oil you use and eat. Soak up excess oil with a paper towel.

Straining used oil:

  • Cool down the leftover oil and then  transfer into an airtight container through a strainer/cheesecloth.Use this oil within  a month.Bacteria feeds on food particles left in the oil.

Storing used oil:

  • Refrigerate used oil. Refigerating or freezing used oil retards bacterial growth. Un-refrigerated oil becomes anaerobic and leads to the growth of Clostridium botulinum, which causes botulism, a potentially fatal food poisoning.

Reusing oil:

  • Before reusing, check the used oil for the colour and thickness. If it is dark in colour and is greasy/sticky than usual it is time to change the oil.
  • Discard oil that has got Rancid — meaning old and stale –
  • If oil is smokey,smell like fish on heating much, discard this batch.

 

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