India consumes about 25 million tonnes of edible oils, which is about 19 kg per person per year. Unable to meet the demand through local production, India imports 60% of its requirement of edible oil. Palm oil from Malaysia and Indonesia will take the lions share at 60 per cent, followed by South American Soy oil taking a 24 per cent. Soybean, rapeseed, mustard, groundnut, sunflower are the primary sources, while oil palm, coconut, rice bran, cotton seeds and tree-borne oilseeds, are the secondary sources of production of edible oil in India. 

Vegetable oil has been an indispensable part of Indian households and kitchens, its origins traced to oil-seeds crushed in cold presses driven by bullock carts and larger mechanical presses. The various regions of India showed a proclivity for a particular type of seed, with the North and East cultivating mustard, the South cultivating sesame and coconut, and both the South and West cultivating groundnut. ‘Desi ghee,’ made from milk was the other form of edible oil utilized primarily in sweets and food for special occasions.

Consumption patterns have shifted rapidly since then as well, as palm oil, soybean and sunflower oil have become the preferred vegetable oils in the country, while groundnut, mustard, sesame and coconut oil still manage to retain some share regionally. Currently, the leading oils are primarily imported in crude form and refined in the country before being packaged and sold.

Cooking oil is available in cold pressed form and in refined form. The refined form is highly dangerous compared to cold pressed form because of the following reasons

  1. Quality of oil seeds – In case of the cold pressed form, the shelf life of the oil is determined by the quality of oilseeds. If the oilseeds are of good quality, then it lasts longer but if bad quality seeds are mixed then, oil becomes rancid quickly and consumer rejects its use. In case of refined oil, quality of seeds doesn’t matter, because the process of high heating and additives makes it suitable for longer shelf life. 


  1. Industrial process – This process involves, cleaning, grinding, pressing, solvent extraction, degumming, bleaching, de-odorizing, addition of odor, preservatives and packaging. During the refining process, the oil interacts with chemicals and is subjected to very high temperature and pressure, which changes the basic nature of oil. Bleaching by any of these means reducing the resistance of oils to rancidity. Along with the impurities vital micronutrients like Chlorophyll, Vitamin A, Vitamin E and Phosphorous compounds such as Lecithin are absorbed onto the agents and removed by filtration. 


  1. Reuse – The odorless and colorless version of refined oil, doesn’t pick up contamination and thus it is being reused in smaller restaurants, hotels and homes. Reuse of cooking oil alters the physiochemical, nutritional and sensory properties, leading to further complications to human body.


  1. New source of oil – Historically, we had been using only mustard, groundnut, sesame and coconut oil, but the introduction of new oil sources like rice bran, corn oil, sunflower and genetically modified sources have been encouraged because of the refining process. The feasibility of extraction is based on technology and marketing.


Thus industrialized cooking oil reduces the original natural food into a relative “non-food”—devitalized and stripped of all its original characteristics.

Cold pressed oil is better only when the oilseeds are grown without chemicals. Otherwise the chemical residue in the cold pressed oil tends to be retained in the food chain.

For detailed information on cooking oil, you can refer to “Reclaim your body – A guide to restoring health and fitness”