Nutritionists harp on benefits of palm oil consumption

Mon, Jun 10, 2024
By editor


SOME nutritionists and lifestyle experts have urged Nigerians to use palm oil, instead of other vegetable oils, due to its nutritional value.

Mrs Olufunmilola Adewumi, Chief Nutritionist and  Head of Department, Shomolu General Hospital, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Lagos.

According to her, components of palm oil are linoleic acid (Omega 6), carotenoids (anti-oxidants), phytosterols, vitamin K,  lauric acid and capric acid, medium chain triglycerides (anti-microbial and anti-fungal agent).

Adewumi, also a registered dietitian, noted that  though  vegetable oil commonly known  as “ororo” and palm oil  known  as “epo” in yoruba dialect belonged to the class of vegetable oils, they were of different categories,  classifications and benefits.

She stated that vegetable oils, also known as plant oils, were derived from oil seeds, grown mainly for their oil e.g. canola corn, cottonseed, olive, palm kernel oil, coconut, peanut, sunflower and soyabean.

She further said that palm oil had higher percentage of saturated fats of about 51 per cent, mono-saturated fats of 39 per cent, and poly-unsaturated fats of 10 per cent.

Speaking further, she added that vegetable oil had 15 per cent of unsaturated fats, 50 per cent of mono-saturated fats and 35 per cent of poly-unsaturated fats.

The dietitian then noted that palm oil had lots of health benefits over vegetable oil.

According to her, palm oil enhances the absorption of essential vitamin A, adding that its specific type of saturated fats (palmitic acid) is not associated with raising Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterols.

“Due to its rich source of vitamin E, lycopene, beta-carotene, palm oil serves as antioxidants that reduce oxidative stress, prevents cancer, safeguards the brain tissues and reduces age-related muscular  degeneration.

“It also contains vitamin K, which is crucial for blood clotting and bone health and when ingested moderately daily, it provides cardio-protective, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic effects.

“When palm oil is used tropically, it restores hydration to dry skin,  soothes headaches, reliefs pain associated with rheumatism and aids healing of wounds and skin infections.

“It eliminates dandruff,  thereby supporting hair growth, has anti-caking property that prevents lumps from forming in powdered products and it soothes bruises and sunburns,” she said.

Adewumi, however, said regardless of the oil one chooses to use, it was important to be mindful of the amount of oil usage in cooking for a healthy lifestyle.

“While oil is an essential ingredient that adds flavour and texture to our dishes, excessive consumption can lead to numerous health issues such as weight gain, heart disease and high cholesterol levels.

“By using little oil in our cooking, we can reduce our overall calorie intake, maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle,” the nutritionist said.

In her contribution, another  Lagos-based registered dietician and nutritionist, Ms Adaeze Oparaku, said the usage of palm oil on all dishes was healthy, if it was not bleached.

Oparaku added that  palm oil had the highest source of Vitamin A in the form of beta carotene, compared with other foods.

“As a matter of diversity,  one can incorporate both palm oil and vegetable oil,  but remember moderation is key.

“There are vitamin A fortified vegetable oils one can use, but one should take note that the vegetable oils with higher levels of Poly-unsaturated fats, monounsaturated fats and low levels of saturated fats are healthier,” she said.

Also speaking, a CyberRisk Management Specialist in Dallas, U.S., Ms Momo Akwara, said palm oil should be the preferred oil for consumption in Nigeria, because vegetable oils were toxic when heated.

Akwara, who is also a Nutrition Adviser, said that usually Nigerians cooked for a long time and as a result, “the process of making vegetable oils become very toxic”.

She added that extraction of oils from the seeds for instance was time consuming and as a result, they became toxic when exposed to heat.

She said the total inclusion of palm oil into daily diets prevented some major diseases.

 According to her, the preferred cooking oils are the likes of organic natural butter, coconut oil and palm oil.

“These oils have a higher smoked point and that is why I constantly educate Nigerians because,  we tend to cook for much longer and palm oil is  natural oil for us, if you get the original one that has not been mixed.

“Palm oil is much healthier,  but if you take the same palm oil and bleach because you want to make ofada sauce, you are also killing the oil nutrients.

“I, for example, do not consume ofada sauce anymore,  because it is not healthy and research has found out that these so called vegetable oils are toxic when exposed to heat and are not fit for human consumption,” she stated.

The specialist, while agitating for the removal of vegetable oil from Nigerian kitchens, however, encouraged those who could not do without vegetable oil,  to extract oil from some fatty meats.

“The fats from our meat should be able to give us enough oil that we need, and the way we cook should also change,  because we must not re-use the same oil.

“We must educate the public that vegetable oils are dangerous to the point of being carcinogenic.

“I have been educating people on the dangers of consuming vegetable oils for 10 years and I can tell you for a fact that vegetable oils  are one of the leading causes of inflammation and it is one of the root causes of diseases,” she said.

Akwara urged Nigerians to do everything within their powers to prevent diseases and embrace healthy feeding. (NAN)


June 10, 2024