Using recycled vegetable oil increases risk of heart diseases, cancer, nutritionists warn

Amarachi Okeh

Nutrition experts have warned Nigerians against the practice of reusing vegetable oil, while cooking, noting that it has a serious negative health impact.

According to the experts, reusing vegetable oil – a common practice in homes and also among street food vendors – is contributing to the increasing incidence of cancer and other non-communicable diseases.

The nutritionists stressed that the blackened oils reused to fry or cook food already contain free radicals that are not good for the body.

Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise in separate interviews, the experts, Professors Johnson Agbede and Simeon Achinewhu, said the continuous use of darkened vegetable oil poses danger to health.

Speaking, Agbede who is a Professor of Agricultural Biochemistry and Nutrition said, “When people continue to use recycled oil for frying to gain more profit, it becomes darkened and unhealthy.

“Such oil should not be used again because it can lead to the production of free radicals, if it is consumed; and these free radicals can predispose the consumer to diseases in future.”

Explaining further, Agbede said, “By the time you are using overused frying oil, you know it is becoming thinner and thinner.

“The thing you are using it to fry will absorb more of that oil and the food will be oily. So, for a consumer, it is dangerous.

“It will predispose that person to the risk of heart disease. The person will also be predisposed to high cholesterol.

“To a layman, there’s what we call good and bad cholesterol. Bad cholesterol is the one that has very low lipoprotein, while good cholesterol has high-density lipoprotein.

“What that means is that there is more protein in that oil and if the oil is bad, it will have more cholesterol in the food than the high-density lipoprotein.

“So, someone taking such food will be more at risk of heart diseases, high blood pressure, obesity, and other conditions.

“That person may be growing fat and thinking he is eating well but the heart will be becoming bigger than normal, the organs will be bigger than normal and the person will be very big.

“That person is having more fat than protein in the body and it could lead to death. Some of these people, when they sleep, will be snoring because all their organs are overblown by fat.

“Let me also tell you that reusing vegetable oils can lead to cancer. Because when you consume more of these fat materials, you know there will be more energy in the system and you know cancer will grow when there’s more energy. That is why you are advised to take fewer carbohydrates.”

He also said that while it is safer to add fresh oil to a previously used oil, such practice should not be unduly repeated.

“When you have oil that you are using, especially if you are adding a fresh one to it, you can go as much as seven times when you are adding fresh oil. At each frying, you add more.

“But when you notice that it is rancid – meaning that it contains free radicals – that increases the risk of diseases in the future, you should stop using it,” he advised.

On his part, Achinewhu, who is a professor of Food and Nutritional Biochemistry, stated that fresh oil should not be used more than twice.

According to him, the repeated use of such oils can increase the risk of cancer.

“Using oil over and over again is very dangerous to human beings.

“If the vegetable oil is used repeatedly, you are producing certain chemicals that may cause cancer. The saturated acid is being broken into several other compounds which may induce cancer.

“Use it maybe only twice but don’t continuously use oil without changing it,” he said.

He also noted that oils used to fry different foods should not be used more than three times, noting that reusing oil already used to fry a different food item can cause diseases, including metabolic problems.

He also advised Nigerians to stay away from buying food items that drip oil when held, stating that this is a clue that the oil used is unhealthy for human consumption.


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