Appraising the Edible Oils Market

Raheem Akingbolu writes on edible oil and the need for consumers to always pause and ask questions about the quality and health benefits of their favourite brands

There are plenty of choices and varieties of edible oil available in the market, the most common being Palm oil, Vegetable oil, Soyabean oil, Groundnut oil, Olive oil and coconut oils. While each of them may look the same, scientifically, they are all very different from one another when it comes to their fundamental construct and health benefits.

Scientifically, all edible oils are 100 per cent Fatty acids – This is true for all types of oils! However, what makes them different are the type of fats they contain that makes them good or bad for you. The fatty acids of all edible oils belong to one of the following – Saturated Fatty acids (SFA), Mono-unsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA) or Poly-Unsaturated Fatty acids (PUFA), depending upon the saturation of the chemical bonds inside them. All edible oils essentially contain a different proportion of the above 3 fatty acids and these fatty acids aren’t built alike! There are scientific literatures available for the understanding of these Fatty acids and their impact on the human body.

According to experts, saturated Fatty acids (SFA), sometimes called solid fats have been suggested to be Bad Fats – they have been associated with increased levels of bad (LDL) Cholesterol in people. LDL Cholesterol is associated with increased risk of heart diseases and stroke. Many experts have argued that they may increase health risks if a person consumes too much over a long period. Many health authorities, such as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the British Dietetic Association, American Heart Association, the World Heart Federation, the British National Health Service, amongst others advise that saturated fat is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases and their consumption should be minimized.
On the other hand, unsaturated fatty acids are liquid at room temperature and may be either monounsaturated Fatty acids (MUFA) or Polyunsaturated Fatty acids (PUFA). They are defined by the un-saturation in their chemical structure. Contrary to Saturated Fats, unsaturated Fatty acids have been associated with lowered risks on hearts – many careful studies have found that replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in the diet reduces risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, or strokes. These studies prompted many medical organisations and public health departments, including the World Health Organization to officially issue that advice. The un-saturated fats help protect your heart by maintaining levels of “good” HDL cholesterol while reducing levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol in your blood. PUFA are mainly of 2 types – Omega 3 or Omega 6, the benefits of which are well documented. The more un-saturated fats an oil has, is better for consumption.

As evident, the type of fat in the diet is important – They have an impact on growth and development, heart and body functions, brain functions and general wellbeing.

Also, the World Health Organization estimates that every year trans-fat intake leads to more than 500,000 deaths of people from cardiovascular disease. “Trans fats increases levels of LDL-cholesterol, a well-accepted biomarker for cardiovascular disease risk, and decreases levels of HDL-cholesterol, which carry away cholesterol from arteries and transport it to the liver, that secretes it into the bile, ”it stated.

It is common to find vegetable oil brands made from refined Palm Olein marketed as Vegetable oil in the Nigerian market. To put it in perspective, the refined Palm Olein sold openly, is crude palm oil that has undergone physical refining or chemical refining and fractionation. The various brands of vegetable oils made from Palm Olein all say that it is healthy but is Palm oil really healthy?

Palm Olein is said to be rich in saturated fatty acids and is often considered as being atherogenic (food High in saturated) nutritionally. According to a report by the Nutrition Information Centre, Stellenboch, Vegetable oils contain about 10% polyunsaturated fat (PUFA), 48% monounsaturated fat (MUFA) and upto a whopping 52% Saturated fat (SFA)); Compare that with Soyabean oil – another commonly available oil in Nigerian market which has 61% polyunsaturated fat (PUFA), 24% monounsaturated fat (MUFA) and only 15% saturated fat (SFA). This simple comparison makes it amply clear of which oil is healthier and should be adopted by Nigerian consumers for their overall and their Heart well being.

A healthy body is needed to drive all of life aspirations; healthy oil consumption habit starts with a step in the direction of Golden Terra Soya Oil. Golden Terra Soya oil has recently emerged to be the leading Soya Bean oil in Nigerian market with its increasing presence across Nigeria. It is said to be 100 per cent pure Soya oil, sourced and manufactured in Nigeria.

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