According to studies, cardiovascular diseases are expected to account for 30 percent of all fatalities in Nigeria. In the previous decade, there has been an increase in the consumption of fried and fast food, particularly in urban areas, which has contributed to an increase in cholesterol levels. While many have chosen to lead an unhealthy lifestyle with their food choices, others can’t be faulted as the increased poverty level in the country has forced many into a non-mutual relationship with malnutrition.
When you consider the numerous benefits that healthy food choices bring us, as well as the severity of the expression “you are what you eat,” you may reconsider your food choices and consider adding healthier variety to your diet profile to lessen your consumption of unhealthy ones.
Let’s start with the basics. Have you considered the fact that some of the complimentary spreads you consume with your popular staple food- bread, are unhealthy and responsible for increasing cardiovascular challenges, contributing to obesity and diabetes, with attendant complications of increased stroke, heart failure and ischemic heart disease?
Undoubtedly, spreads are an important part of our diet and for a fact many have discovered that they can’t do without popular spreads like margarine, butter and mayonnaise with their staple foods. However, consumers might be ignorant of the fact that the trans-fats contained in margarine increases bad cholesterol (i.e. low-density lipoprotein and triglycerides) while reducing the good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein). As a result, there has been an increase in incidences of atherosclerosis and overall cardiovascular risk of individuals.
Nigerian medical health expert, Dr. Jimi Sodipo, Head of Department, Family Medicine, Lagos State University and Chairman, Lagos Medical Guild, in an interview with Punch Newspaper on the effect of food choices made by Nigerians on their health, cited the use of popular spreads mayonnaise and margarine with staple foods like bread as example. Citing reasons why mayonnaise is a healthier and more nutritious option than margarine, he said, “Spreads are an important part of our diet and recently we have found out that we can’t do without popular spreads like Margarine, butter and Mayonnaise on our staple foods. However the trans-fats contained in margarine increases bad cholesterol ( i.e. Low density Lipoprotein and Triglycerides) whilst reducing the good cholesterol (High density lipoprotein). As a result of this, there is an increase in incidence of atherosclerosis and overall cardiovascular risk of individuals. The unsaturated fats as seen in spreads like mayonnaise on the other hand increase the good cholesterol and reduce the bad cholesterol thereby reducing the risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular risk.”
Did you know that the leading ingredient in margarine – palm oil has been said to pose high health risks if consumed regularly and in high amounts too? According to the World Health Organization (WHO), some studies link consumption of palm oil to increased ischemic heart disease mortality, raised low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, increased risk of cardiovascular disease and other adverse conditions.