Whether palm or groundnut oils, cooking oils are a staple in Nigerian dishes. Oils add flavors to food while distributing heat to reduce uneven cooking. Nutritionally, oils are storehouses of energy and fatty acids that improve cell growth and the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K.
Despite the benefits of cooking oils, you need them in measured quantities. Excess oil consumption increases the risk of heart-related diseases, obesity, and type 2 diabetes (T2D). That’s why you must pay attention to the type of oil you use for preparing food. This post explains the healthy edible oils you should use for cooking.
How to choose healthy cooking oils in Nigeria
1. Health and fitness goals
Your health status dictates the volume and quantity of oil you should consume. Generally, adults on a standard 2,000-calorie diet need 5-7 teaspoons of oils daily. Similarly, pregnant and lactating mothers need dietary fat to avoid protein-energy malnutrition. Meanwhile, diet associations advise individuals with cardiovascular diseases or diabetes to moderately consume oils rich in saturated or trans fat to prevent health deterioration.
2. Fatty acid profile
The type of fat in cooking oils determines their nutritional benefits and stability at high temperatures. For example, oils with low levels of polyunsaturated fats are better for cooking and deep frying because they resist oxidation.
Avoid oils that contain high quantities of trans fat, an unsaturated fat that increases the chances of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Instead, choose oils that improve body functions, such as “good” unsaturated fat (e.g., monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat).
For instance, omega-3 fatty acids, a polyunsaturated fatty acid, prevent mental disorders like depression. Additionally, it lowers the risk factors for stroke and heart disease by reducing the triglycerides in the body. Given its health benefits, the American Health Association recommends that daily calorie intake contain 8–10% polyunsaturated fat. Likewise, monounsaturated fats (e.g., olive, peanut, and canola oils) improve weight loss and insulin sensitivity.
In contrast, moderately consume vegetable oils rich in saturated fat. Saturated fat may increase the proportion of “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol that causes heart disease. It may also increase inflammation or cause mental decline.
Shopping tip: Always check nutritional labels for ingredient profiles, storage conditions, and refining information.
3. The type of food you want to cook
Cooking oils have distinct behaviors under heat. For instance, olive oil is suited for frying and cooking because it contains oleic acid (a monounsaturated acid) and antioxidants that resist oxidation.
Similarly, unrefined oils are more stable at high temperatures than refined oils. That explains why the North American Olive Oil Association endorsed unprocessed, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) as the best oil for cooking over refined olive oil.
Health tip: The smoke point—the temperature at which oils undergo chemical changes that cause the expulsion of smoke or harmful substances—was the famous benchmark for oil stability and performance. However, a report published in 2018, which the North America Olive Oil Association approved, explained that the fatty acid profile and refinement process are key factors that influence the behavior of oils under heat, not the smoke point.
1. Who’s your supplier?
Unbranded or adulterated oils are a death sentence. Besides non-conformity to food regulatory standards, unbranded oils contain unhealthy additives and abnormally high cholesterol, a risk factor for hypertension and heart-related diseases. Counterfeit oils are preserved in germ-filled materials with little or no information about their refining process or ingredient profile, two key elements you should consider before choosing cooking oils.
Unbranded oils are popular in Nigeria. In 2019, over 70% of vegetable oils in Nigeria were unbranded or adulterated, causing food poisoning, which kills 200,000 people in Nigeria annually. The numbers and inherent quality of adulterated oils make them a bad investment, irrespective of accessibility and cost.
The answer to unbranded oil is purchasing food from government-approved sources like Pricepally—the farm-fresh and household essential connoisseur. We outsource branded products directly from government-backed suppliers.
Quality food should be affordable. You can share the cost of bulk and retail food with friends and other shoppers using Pally. Pally helps you buy more while paying less. For example, you can share the cost of one carton of Mamador vegetable oil with four people.
All you should do is:
- Log in to Pricepally through the website or mobile app (iOS and Android). Choose Mamador vegetable oil.
- Click Select Order Type. Select the portion you want through Pally (Share).
- Add to cart or go to payment.
Here’s a short video explaining how to pally Mamador vegetable oil with friends:
Some of the oils you can buy from us include:
5 healthy cooking oils in Nigeria
Now that you know how to select cooking oils, let’s run through the healthy cooking oils you should add to your shopping cart.
1. Olive oil
- 119 kcal
- 11% polyunsaturated fat (e.g., omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids)
- 73% monounsaturated fatty acids, e.g., oleic acid
- Antioxidants such as polyphenols
- Vitamin E (13%) and vitamin K (7%)
- Saturated fat (14%)
It has three grades depending on refinement levels: refined olive oil, virgin olive oil, and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), the least processed of the lot and the most healthful form of olive oil.
Olive oils, especially the extra virgin grade, prevent heart disease and stroke because of the overwhelming presence of monounsaturated fat. It also improves body weight, insulin sensitivity, and blood pressure. The active polyphenol fights against inflammation that may harm the body.
Moreover, olive oil is difficult to break down and releases a few harmful chemicals after heating. These qualities make it excellent for deep and shallow frying, baking, and cold dressings.
2. Sesame oil
The seeds of the Sesamum indicum plant are the source of sesame oils. The oils are rich in vitamins E and K, choline, mono- and polyunsaturated fats, and traces of choline. Choline is part of the vitamin B family and improves cell structure and the nervous system.
Sesame oils prevent atherosclerosis or artery hardening, which may cause stroke and heart attack. It improves diabetes management and memory management.
Food tip: Unrefined sesame oil has a light color with a nutty aroma and is suited for low-medium cooking. Refined sesame, on the other hand, has a neutral flavor, and it’s best for deep-frying or stir-frying.
3. Avocado oil
Perhaps you’re on team “slander avocado” because of its funny taste. The oil, however, is a different experience. It’s delicious and full of heart-friendly fat (e.g., oleic acid and omega-3 fatty acids) and vitamins A, D, E, and K.
It contains lutein, an essential antioxidant the body can’t produce that promotes eye health. Vitamins A and E enhance skin health and wound healing.
4. Canola oil
It’s a vegetable-based oil from the canola plant, a crossbreed rapeseed plant made in Canada, hence the name. It’s one of the healthiest vegetable oils because it contains minute quantities of unhealthful saturated and trans fats.
It contains heart-friendly monounsaturated (64%) and polyunsaturated (28%) fats. Canola oil is genetically modified with improved quality and a neutral flavor, making it the best option for baking and making un-flavorful salad dressings.
5. Peanut oil
You probably know peanut oil as “groundnut oil” if you’re a Nigerian. It contains vitamin E, the antioxidant that protects the body from bacteria and viruses. The antioxidant also suppresses age-related mental decline. The high presence of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in peanut oil improves insulin sensitivity.
Food tip: Despite its high smoke point, don’t use groundnut for deep frying. That’s because peanut oil contains high volumes of polyunsaturated fats that are unstable and easily break down under heat.
Frequently Asked Questions about cooking oils in Nigeria
1. Is it healthy to bleach palm oil before cooking?
Overheating vegetable oils beyond their smoke point may cause nutrient loss, the release of toxic chemicals, and unwanted flavor. Although palm oil has a high smoke point (450–455°F), it’s preferable not to overheat it.
2. Is it healthy to reuse vegetable oils?
Health-wise, it’s unsafe to heat edible oils at high temperatures (160–190°C) over a long period. Repeated heating predisposes oil to produce free radicals that induce cellular and molecular damage.
Despite the adverse effects of reusing oil, it’s relatively safe to reuse olive oil because it doesn’t degrade under heat. Furthermore, it doesn’t release toxic chemicals or add unwanted flavors to food.