Hazards of cooking in excessive reheated oils


 Hazards of cooking in
excessive reheated oils

During the month of Ramadan instead of spiritual
purification the exploitation is worse

Lt. Gen. Mahmud Ahmad Akhtar

The use of reheated oil again and again to fry dishes like Pakoras, Samosas, Jalebis, Kachoris, Potato chips etc. which are very commonly used in Pakistan is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases (heart attacks), strokes, neuro-degenerative disorders like Parkinson disease, Alzheimer disease, Huntington’s disease, fatty live hepatitis-cirrhosis, hepatic carcinoma, breast carcinoma in females and prostate carcinomas in males. These diseases are on the increase in Pakistan particularly cardio-vascular disease and strokes. During heating again and again, harmful Trans-fatty acids are generated. Trans-fatty acids increase Low-density lipo-protein (LDL) termed as the bad cholesterol, and lowers High- density lipo-protein (HDL) the good cholesterol. A high LDL cholesterol level in combination with a low HDL level significantly increase risk of heart diseases and strokes.

Lt. Gen. Mahmud Ahmad Akhtar

The consumption of dishes in repeatedly, reheated oil exposes people to high levels of aldehyde-chemicals known to cause neuro-degenerative disease and cancer. A study conducted in 2005 found that a toxin called 4 hydroxy-trans-2-nonenal (HNE) forms when such oils such as olive, canola, corn, soya-bean, sunflower etc. are reheated. It is pertinent to note that commonly used extra virgin olive oil has the low smoking point and is not suitable for high smoking heating only for low temperature heating. Canola the mono-saturated oil has high smoking heating point and can be used for high temperature cooking but not for heating repeatedly. Mustard oil has the highest smoking point and is most cost-effective. Consumption of foods containing HNE was found to be associated with increased risk of cardio-vascular disease, stroke, Parkinsonism, Alzheimer disease, Huntington’s disease, various liver disorders and cancer studies also reveal that once absorbed in the body the HNE reacts with DNA, RNA and proteins affecting basic cellular processes.

Studies reveal that people who consume high levels of Trans-fatty acids have twice the risk of heart attacks and strokes compared to those who consumes little. Also women with the highest blood levels of Trans-fatty acids have twice the risk of breast cancer as compared to the women with low Trans-fatty acids. It is well-established fact that prevention is not only better than cure-but is the only cure. The diseases mentioned above are also impossible even to treat –leaving aside cure. These need enormous expense facilities which are not there. Furthermore with low literacy rate the awareness of people about medical health problems is very poor.

The public health services first priority should be prevention and promotion of health. This is how the progressive countries have tackled the health problems, even the countries with low income have successfully solved these problems. As an example Sri Lanka in this region has achieved 100% literacy and universal health care, prevention of diseases, have achieved remarkable results in this region including newly-emerged Bangladesh have achieved considerable success.                              

In Pakistan one can easily witness shop-keepers, hawkers, confectioners, bakers and vendors selling dishes prepared in oil reheated again and again mainly because the concerned government authorities have not taken any action against them and have not created health-awareness.

The rulers’ priorities both federal and provincial (including the ones claiming of new-Pakistan) are lop-sided. First of all the priorities are on luxurious projects like metro, orange lines etc. serving the elites. The Health and education have extremely low priorities –virtually negligible. Even potable water which is a fundamental human right is not provided to the people. Resultantly 40% hospital admissions and deaths are due to water-borne diseases which even the countries with low income have eradicated. In Pakistan literacy rate is very low and the quality of education very poor. During Ramadan it is a common observation that oils heated again and again are often used, the color of oil virtually turns tarry black. During the month of Ramadan instead of spiritual purification the exploitation is worse.

The government should create health awareness through print and digital media about the proper uses of oil. School and College curricula and syllabi should provide health education. The government department should carry out strict checking of food, its preparation, proper use of oils etc.. Drastic actions should be taken against those who kill people by poisoning them. The print, digital and social media should accord top priority to the health of the people by educating people about the hazards of harmful eatables. Preventive Medicine and promotion of health should receive the highest priority. These are easily doable and cost effective.