Vegetable Oils-The Many Facts May 11, 2020

Many vegetable oils have variables from nutritional facts, to benefits, to temperature durability, and uses. Let’s break this down for you.

Essential oils, carrier oils, vegetable oils, nut oils, oils for skin, oils for hair…the list goes on. The shelves overflowing with an incredible, mind-boggling array of oils, each advertising their unique benefits are sometimes quite bewildering. Staring at the stacks and rows of oils, most of us are left in a dilemma. Should it be the canola? Try out the coconut, maybe? A shampoo that proudly promises great hair with macadamia oil? How about sweet smelling body lotion containing baobab oil?

Thanks to the new narrative of wellness and aromatherapy, mood lifter essential oils have made their way into mainstream conversation. However, we have all heard words like ‘omega this’ and ‘unsaturated that’ thrown around, but this is still uncharted territory. Vegetable oils are obtained from oil-rich seeds like corn, groundnuts, soybeans etc. These oils comprise complex compounds called unsaturated fats; they remain liquid at low temperatures and withstand high heat. Natural vegetable oils are then further refined to yield a chemically stable, light amber coloured, mildly aromatic liquid. 

We give you a peep into the fascinating world of vegetable oils now available from Ultra UK.

Rapeseed Oil

Imagine an oil made from cabbage! Well, not quite, but close. Magnificent yellow blooms from the same botanical genus as the cabbage (Brassica) yield seeds from which the oil is distilled. Rapeseed is among the oldest cultivated oilseeds, containing a high concentration of erucic acid. Canada started producing a variant with less than 2% erucic acid, which is what we know today as canola oil.


Rapeseeds are heated slightly and put through mechanical crushing and grinding with a hexane solvent to break the cell walls. Then the seeds are dehulled in a regulated disc mill, which also helps in drying. The broken seeds pass through a screw oil mill for oil extraction by cold pressing. The extracted crude oil is finally refined using water and organic acids to remove gums and neutralise free fatty acids. It is passed through an intensive filtration and deodorising process before reaching the shelves.


  • A healthy proportion of omega-3 to omega-6 (the good fats)
  • Vitamins E and K found in both rapeseed and canola
  • Lowest levels of saturated fat content (the harmful ones)

Benefits & Uses

You can cook, drizzle, and safely store culinary rapeseed oil that is canola oil. The high smoking point makes it suitable for high-heat cooking. It also has the propensity to hold its own and does not go toxic easily. Its earthy, nutty flavour finds widespread culinary use, while the industrial variety (with higher erucic acid) is used in the automotive and chemical industries.

Look out for: Cold-pressed or minimally refined rapeseed oil. It will retain most of its nutrient value.

Hemp oil

A rather misunderstood oil, hemp oil, also called hemp seed oil, is obtained from the miniscule seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant. See, here lies the root cause of misunderstanding. It has nothing to do with the cannabis we all know! Hemp seeds contain less than 0.3% of the intoxicating compound i.e. tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that’s responsible for the ‘high’ of marijuana. On the contrary, hemp seeds are a powerhouse of nutrients, fatty acids, and bioactive compounds.


Though there are methods like supercritical fluid extraction (SFE) with solvent and the new-age ultrasonication (ULT) processes, the oilseed screw press machine is the most common method followed for hemp oil extraction. The cold-pressed seeds yield an unrefined oil, dark to clear green in colour with a nutty, grassy flavour.3 This is refined by using carbon dioxide, and ethanol processes to give a clear, colourless oil with little flavour.


  • ‘Nature’s most perfectly balanced oil’ with optimum 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 essential fatty acids
  • High in Vitamin E
  • Essential minerals

Benefits & Uses

With a composition similar to the human skin, it’s a match made in heaven. Excellent moisturiser for dehydrated skin, an effective treatment for atopic dermatitis, eczema, and other dermatological problems. A favourite for anti-ageing, hemp seed oil also does not clog pores and thus regulates the skin’s oil balance. You will find hemp oil in numerous skincare products, soaps, shampoos, and cleansers. Consumption is beneficial for brain and heart health. Industrial grade hemp oil is used in inks, paint, lubricants, fuels, and plastics.

Look out for: Any good quality hemp oil. The good news is that it suits almost all skin types.

Baobab Oil

Flourishing in the arid terrain of Africa, Arabia and Australia, the baobab tree (Adansonia digitate) is shrouded in mystique and superstition; and the world knows little of it. However, this large, succulent tree is revered among the Africans and often referred to as the “Tree of Life” or simply by its more common moniker the “upside-down tree.” The name was given because it looks like it has been planted upside down with the roots sticking up in the air. Baobab oil is obtained from the seeds of the pod-like kernels of baobab fruit.


Baobab oil is extracted from the seeds through a single, cold-pressing process. After separating the seeds from the hard, outer shell and powdery interior of the fruit, the seeds are washed clean and air-dried in the sun. With the help of a mechanical decorticator the soft kernel is isolated from the rough husk before being sieved and readied for processing. The oil is rich with a silky feel and mild aroma.


  • Fortified with sterols, palmitic acid
  • Vitamins A, F, E
  • Natural source of Vitamin D3
  • Supercharged with Vitamin C, it can give an orange a run for its money

Benefits & Uses

Add to your daily beauty regime, savour the flavour of the leaves, use the bark and fibres for baskets or store the dried seeds. What’s more, because it is slow to oxidise, it spoils slower and, stored properly, has a shelf life of five years. Its super-rich vitamin content makes it a must-have ingredient for cosmetics and hair care products. Highly penetrating, nourishing and even edible, this nutrient-rich dynamo is also used to treat asthma, kidney problems, mosquito bites, and bladder problems.

Look out for: The only vegetable oil that can be added in its raw state in cosmetics; and can safely be included in diet.

Macadamia Oil

Native to the Australian mainland, macadamia nuts are found on evergreen trees across the continent, and it is one of the most popular commercial crops of the country. Despite being a hard nut to crack, (macadamia is the hardest of all nut shells known), these delicious white nuts feature as the star ingredient for many a chocolatier, culinary artist or even shampoo manufacturer. The oil obtained from macadamia nuts (Macadamia integrifolia) is a preferred flavouring agent.


The clear, light-yellow oil from macadamia is obtained by cold or expeller-pressed squeezing. The labour-intensive process of extraction and nutrient-rich profile has pushed it to becoming one of the world’s most premium and expensive nuts.


  • Highest content of fatty acids, 85% monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats
  • Rich in anti-oxidants like squalene
  • Vitamin A1, B1, B2, E
  • Essential minerals

Benefits & Uses

In a nutshell, macadamia is heart-to-hair happiness. It is a first-class rejuvenator and nourisher of skin and hair, and so found in a plethora of skin and hair products. You can use it for dressings and marinades for its delicious nutty flavour. Since its smoking point is much higher than the oft-used olive oil, it’s great for medium heat cooking. The fatty acids help lower bad cholesterol, and promote heart health.

Look out for: A sudden spring in your step, for macadamia oil is a great source of energy-boosting fibre. However, for those with nut allergies, it would be wise to avoid.

Moringa Oil

If you believe that good things come in small packages, the moringa is one such gift from nature. The tree (Moringa oleifera) is quite a small tree, thriving and native to the rocky soil of the mighty Himalayas. From seed to root, bark to flower and leaf, virtually every part of the tree finds use in nutritional, industrial, or medicinal purposes. For this reason, it is widely called ‘the miracle tree’ or even going by the shape of its pods, the ‘drumstick tree.’ The oil is extracted from its seeds.


The first step involves crushing the seeds. Then the seeds are soaked in water about 10% of the total volume of the seeds. These are then heated over a low fire. Finally, the soft kernels are put through a screw press and cold pressed, or solvent extraction can be used to produce the oil.


  • A whopping 92 nutrients
  • 46 antioxidants
  • High proportions of Vitamins A, B, C
  • Monosaturated fats
  • Proteins

Benefits & Uses

The benefits of moringa have been traditionally harnessed since ancient times. Uses include as a cooking medium for cholesterol management, diabetes control, liver protection, and for nutritional supplement.  As a topical cleanser, moisturiser, antioxidant, moringa is used in a host of soaps, liquid cleansers, hydrating toners, massage oils, shampoos, and hair conditioners. It is used effectively in treating oedema. In industrial applications it is used as a fuel and machinery lubricant.

Look out for: Food-grade moringa oil that is a storehouse of nourishment, both inside as well as outside. The list of vegetable oils with their benefits is on the rise, and wellness awareness is also growing. The uses of these oils range from industrial to personal, and therefore the potential is huge. With this 360° view, the supply and availability are catching up with the demand.