What would be your response to the question, “How edible oil savvy are you?” In other words, how much do you know about the content of the edible oil you are currently cooking with? Generally, making informed decisions on your choice of any product would require knowledge of its composition, value and benefits. These benefits which should be applied when making a choice of the type of edible oil to cook with.
The edible oils section in our local market and neighbourhood store seemingly grows by the day with a variety that includes Palm Olein, popularly referred to as Vegetable oil, Olive Oil, Canola Oil, Soya Bean Oil, Avocado Oil as well as Red Palm Oil. While the edible oils on the shelf might appeal to you, distinguishing between all of them can also be confusing and challenging. Knowing which oils are healthy or the best to cook with is the first step and we will try to throw more light on it.
Firstly, it is important to note that edible oils are important sources of dietary fat and these fats play an essential role in the body. Secondly, all edible oils are composed of mainly three types of fat content: Saturated fatty acids, Monounsaturated fatty acids and Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids. Thirdly, recommendations of the best type of edible oil requires getting the right balance of the different types of fats that will help keep your cholesterol and triglycerides levels low and your heart healthy.
For years, we have been told that eating fat will add inches to our waistlines, raise cholesterol level, and cause a myriad of health problems. But while it may have some truths, we also know that not all fats are built the same. Saturated fats, classified as “bad” fat, are guilty of the unhealthy things all fats have been blamed for, i.e. weight gain, clogged arteries, high cholesterol and an increased risk of heart diseases. But “good” fats such as unsaturated fats (Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated), need not have same effects. As a matter of fact, they do help with bodily functions.
Saturated fats are considered “bad” fats because they can raise low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and too much of it can negatively impact heart health, so it is best consumed in moderation. On the other hand, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are known as “good fats” because they are less harmful for one’s heart and cholesterol level thus have a positive effect on one’s overall health.
These fats can help to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, increase “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL), lower triglycerides associated with heart disease, fight inflammation as well as prevent atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries).
According to Dr. Nnenna Ezeigwe, a former National Coordinator for Non Communicable Diseases in the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), “Cardiovascular Disease is a significant public health concern responsible for 11% of over 2 million Non-Communicable disease deaths in Nigeria annually. It is also responsible for a high burden of morbidity and disability. Most people with cardiovascular diseases are not aware until catastrophes like stroke, heart attack or death occur.”
While there is no need to cut out all saturated fat from your diet, most nutrition experts recommend limiting its consumption. Coconut Oil, Palm Oil and Palm Olein, which have been the mostly used cooking oil in Nigeria for decades, contain high amounts of unhealthy saturated fats thereby putting the larger population at risk.
Looking closely, Soybean oil is primarily comprised of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) as it is 12-15% saturated fat, 22-30% monounsaturated fat (oleic acid) and 55-58% PUFA, which makes it one of the highest sources of “good” fat from edible oil. Omega-3 and Omega-6 which are also types of PUFA are well known for reducing inflammation in the body hence reaffirming how important PUFA is. The commonly consumed vegetable oil in Nigeria has less than 15% of PUFA, clearly Soya Oil has 4x more PUFA.
Omega-3s are a family of essential fatty acids that play important roles in the body and may provide several health benefits. The three most important types are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). They are key to the structure of every cell wall in the human body. They are also an energy source and help keep the heart, lungs, blood vessels, and immune system working the way they should.
On the other hand, Omega-6 fatty acids play a crucial role in reducing the risk of heart disease, lowering “bad” cholesterol levels, raising “good” cholesterol levels, and reducing cancer risk.
Hence, choosing right means choosing a tested and trusted brand like Golden Terra Soya Oil. It is 100% pure soya bean oil, safe, proudly Nigerian as well as the option for every Nigerian meal.
So, when next you choose a heart-friendly oil, be sure it is really a “Heart-Friendly and Healthy Option.”