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Even if you make sure you include healthy food in the meals you prepare for yourself and your family, you may not always think about the kind of oil you use to cook these meals. You may use the readily available and reasonably priced cooking oil precisely because of its convenience and affordability. After all, using extra virgin olive oil for all of your meals may be healthier, but it's also hard on the pocket.
Still, you can find healthier alternatives without looking too far. Recent research indicates that sesame oil and rice bran oil may be great alternatives to your regular cooking oil. ScienceDaily.com reports that they can normalize blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels.
The study, which was presented at the American Heart Association's High Blood Pressure Research 2012 Scientific Sessions, suggests that cooking with a combination of sesame and rice bran oils works as well as prescribed blood pressure medication. Using the oils while maintaining your medication has even better results.
According to Devarajan Sankar, MD, PhD, a research scientist at the Department of Cardiovascular Disease at Fukuoka University Chikushi Hospital in Japan, rice bran oil and sesame oil may "reduce heart disease risk in other ways, including being a substitute for less healthy oils and fats in the diet."
The experiment that led to this discovery was conducted in Delhi, India. Three hundred participants with mild to moderately high blood pressure were divided into three groups. One group was given blood pressure medication, the second was given the oil blend for use in their meals, and the last was given both the medication and the oil. While all groups saw improvements in systolic and diastolic blood pressure values, more benefits were seen in those who both took the medicine and used the oil blend.
Oils from plants and their fruits have always been high in good fat. Plus, they add deeper layers of flavor to food. So the next time you're shopping for cooking oil, check out the shelf and try to find the healthiest oils you can use for a variety of dishes--you might just be surprised as to what you can get that's within your budget.
(Photo by Cottonseed Oil via Flickr Creative Commons)