By King The Diet Master
Oils have been used since ancient times and in many cultures. The consumption of oils and fats has increased dramatically in the past century. In culinary, they’re used in shortening (using fats in baking), enriching, texturing, flavoring etc. Edible oils are mostly of plant origin which can be obtained from seeds or fruits while edible fats are obtained from animals. Examples of some oils and fats commonly consumed in Cameroon include palm oil, peanut oil, cotton oil, olive oil, soybean oil, bleached palm oil (Mayor), butter and margarine (obtained through a process called hydrogenation).
Fats and oils are recognized as essential nutrients in both human and animal diets. They provide the most concentrated sources of energy in any foodstuff, supply essential fatty acids which are precursors for important hormones, act as carriers for fat-soluble vitamins and contribute greatly to the feeling of satiety after eating. Most vegetable oils consumed as such contain only small amounts of fat. Vegetable oils are hydrogenated, that is, unsaturated fatty acids (mostly oils) are partially or completely transformed to saturated fatty acids by adding hydrogen to increase their oxidative stability and melting points. In simpler words, liquid unsaturated fat is turned into a solid fat. The formation of what are known as trans fatty acids occur during the process of hydrogenation. Trans fatty acids have unfavorable effects because they increase low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels associated with increased risk for cardiovascular diseases (Stender and Dyerberg, 2003). In essence, unsaturated fats should be chosen over saturated fats.
Which Oil Is Healthy?
There are basically three parameters to adjudge any oil as healthy oil: the ratio of saturated/monounsaturated/polyunsaturated fatty acid, the ratio of essential fatty acids (Omega6/Omega3) and the presence of natural antioxidants (substances that contribute in protecting cells against harmful molecules). Health risks associated with trans fats include; heart diseases (Hu et al, 1997), cancer Bakker et al, 1997), diabetes (Bray et al, 2002), effect on fetus (Elias and Innis, 2001), obesity (Goslina and Anna, 2006), and allergies (Weiland et al, 1999).
This oil is obtained from oil palm. Its utilization is constantly increasing; It’s the most consumed oil in Cameroon and the main ingredient in dishes such as eru, achu soup, cornchaff, mbanga soup. Based on health, adding two tablespoons of red palm oil to the diet can provide your body with vitamins and antioxidants which are associated to increase brain health, reduce cholesterol, anti-aging, improves your skin because of its Vit E, boost the immune system, beneficial for eyes due to large amounts of beta-carotenes, anti-cancer and weight loss by turning up your metabolism. It is advisable to consume unrefined palm oil because during refining, its red color is destroyed by bleaching and the free fatty acids are removed.
Conclusively, the following points should be taken into consideration for edible oils and fats:
- Use the adequate amount of fat (oil) possible to prepare your food
- Don’t reuse or reheat your cooking oil
- Use suitable oil as per dish that you are cooking
- Ensure there’s no visible smoke while frying
- Use extra virgin olive oil for mild cooking or in salad dressing.
- Store your cooking oil in dark, cool places to keep them fresh longer
- Avoid stocking oils for longer periods.