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15 Best Nigerian Cooking Oils and Their Health Properties

15 Best Nigerian Cooking Oils and Their Health Properties: Cooking oils are an essential part of Nigerian cuisine and culture. From adding flavor to dishes to providing nutritional benefits, oils play a vital role in Nigerian cooking. With dozens of oils commonly used in Nigerian kitchens, it can be challenging to know which are the healthiest options. In this article, we will explore 15 of the best Nigerian cooking oils, looking at their unique properties, health benefits, and how they are commonly used.

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Best Nigerian Cooking Oils and Their Health Properties

1. Groundnut Oil

Groundnut oil, also known as peanut oil, is one of the most popular cooking oils in Nigeria. It has a high smoke point which makes it excellent for deep frying and high-heat cooking methods. Groundnut oil contains high levels of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, including omega-6 fatty acids. This can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and reduce risk of heart disease. Groundnut oil has a subtle, nutty flavor which works well in many Nigerian dishes. It’s commonly used for cooking stews, meats, fried plantains and yams. Major groundnut oil production happens in the northern regions of Nigeria.15 Best Nigerian Cooking Oils and Their Health Properties

2. Palm Oil

Palm oil is a staple ingredient in many parts of southern Nigeria. It has a reddish-orange color from its high beta-carotene content. When used in moderation, the beta-carotene in palm oil acts as an antioxidant and converts to vitamin A in the body. Palm oil contains a mix of saturated and unsaturated fats. It has a relatively neutral flavor profile and high heat tolerance. In Nigerian cuisine, palm oil is often added to soups, stews, porridge and used as a base for palm wine. The Niger Delta region accounts for most of the country’s palm oil production.

3. Olive Oil

While not as common as other oils in Nigeria, olive oil use has grown in popularity over the years. Known as liquid gold in the Mediterranean, olive oil is revered for its heart-healthy fats and robust flavor. It has strong anti-inflammatory properties from the monounsaturated oleic acid. Olive oil contains antioxidants called polyphenols that protect the body from cellular damage. It has a low smoke point so works best with low to medium-heat cooking or as a finishing oil. Olive oil can be used in Nigerian salad dressings, marinades, and dips. The country still imports the majority of its olive oil.

4. Sesame Oil

Sesame oil comes from pressing sesame seeds, primarily the white variety. It has a very distinctive, nutty, earthy flavor. The oil contains a compound called sesamolin, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Sesame oil is also a good source of polyunsaturated fats like omega-6 linoleic acid. In Nigeria, sesame oil is used to create thick, rich stews, add flavor to rice dishes, or used as a base for soups. Sesame is mainly grown in the Middle Belt region, but more cultivation is happening in the south as well.InfoGuideNigeria

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5. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has grown enormously in popularity in recent years for its multitude of uses. High in saturated fats, coconut oil is very stable and heat-resistant. When used in moderation, the medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) in coconut oil may support weight loss and brain health. With its creamy texture and subtle coconut flavor, it works well in Nigerian curries, stews and baked goods. Coconut oil production is concentrated in the southern coastal regions of Nigeria.Fuji Music Albums of all Times in Nigeria

6. Shea Butter Oil

Also referred to as shea nut oil, shea butter oil is extracted from the nuts of the African shea tree. It is rich in oleic acid and stearic acid which offer anti-inflammatory benefits. Shea butter oil contains vitamins A and E to nourish the skin. The viscosity and emollient properties also make it an effective hair oil. Shea butter oil has a mild, slightly nutty aroma. In cooking, it can be used to add flavor to dishes or prepare foods like plantain fritters. Shea trees grow in the central and northern areas of Nigeria.Romantic Love Messages

7. Palm Kernel Oil

Palm kernel oil comes from the seed kernels of palm fruit. Its nutrients are similar to coconut oil with high amounts of lauric acid. Palm kernel oil may help support heart health and have antimicrobial properties. The oil has a longer shelf life because it does not oxidize easily. In Nigeria, palm kernel oil is commonly used for baking and preparing fried snacks like chinchin or puff puff. It is also added to some soups for extra richness. Palm kernel oil production often happens alongside palm oil production in Nigeria.

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8. Cottonseed Oil

A common vegetable oil worldwide, cottonseed oil also has uses in traditional Nigerian cooking. It is affordable and has a mild flavor suitable for frying or baking. Cottonseed oil contains a mix of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. The vitamin E content also provides some antioxidant benefits. In Nigeria, cottonseed oil may be used for deep frying bean fritters like akara or to enrich egusi soup. The main regions for cotton production and cottonseed oil extraction are in the north.

9. Soybean Oil

Soybean oil has grown in popularity in Nigeria as soybean cultivation has expanded. It is high in polyunsaturated fats, including essential omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Soybean oil contains vitamin E and phytosterols that help lower LDL cholesterol. Its versatility and affordability make it suitable for cooking many Nigerian dishes. Soybean oil can be used for baking, frying, stewing, and making salad dressings. Most soybeans are currently grown in the Middle Belt zone.Good Morning Love Messages

10. Banga Oil

Also called African bush mango oil, banga oil comes from the nuts of Irvingia gabonensis trees native to West Africa. It has a bright orange color and unique tangy, smoky aroma. Banga oil is prized in Nigerian cooking for adding rich flavor to soups, stews, and porridges. It contains antioxidants like vitamin E and Unsaturated fatty acids. However, banga oil is high in saturated fat so should be used in moderation. Irvingia gabonensis trees are concentrated in the southern regions of Nigeria.

11. Ogbono Oil

Ogbono oil is extracted from the bush mango tree’s ogbono seeds. Its unique properties come from lauric, oleic, and myristic fatty acids. Ogbono oil can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The oil has a nutty, buttery flavor that enhances many Nigerian soups and stews. It’s most commonly used in dishes like ogbono soup. Ogbono nuts are mainly harvested from trees in the south central and southeast parts of the country.NYSC Portal

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12. Ugba Oil

Also called ukpa oil, ugba oil comes from fermented African oil bean seeds. Through fermentation, the oil takes on a deep reddish color and robust flavor. Ugba oil contains essential amino acids that support a healthy immune system. In Nigerian cooking, it brings a rich umami taste to soups and stews. A small amount can flavor an entire pot of soup. Ugba oil production centers around the Igbo regions where oil bean trees grow.OSPOLY Post-UTME Screening Schedule 2023/2024

13. Ofada Oil

Ofada oil comes from pressed African pear seeds called ube. The oil ranges from pale yellow to dark green in color based on ripeness and has a slightly fruity aroma. Ofada oil is valued in Nigerian cuisine for its digestive health benefits. The oil contains antioxidants like vitamin E along with other essential vitamins and minerals. Ofada oil is perfect for low-heat cooking or drizzling on foods. It brings a unique flavor to dishes like jollof rice. Production is focused in the southwest region where ube trees grow.JAMB Result

14. Melon Seed Oil

Also known as egusi oil, melon seed oil comes from pressed melon seeds. Egusi seeds are common ingredients in West African soups and stews. The oil provides a nutritious punch of essential fatty acids like linoleic acid along with vitamin E. Melon seed oil has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects to support immune health. In Nigeria, the oil is used both for cooking and as a hair and skin moisturizer. Melon crops are grown across most of southern Nigeria.

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15. Locust Bean Oil

Extracted from the seeds of the African locust bean, this oil has been used in Nigerian cuisine for centuries. It ranges in color from yellow to dark brown. Locust bean oil is uniquely high in essential fatty acids like linoleic acid which support heart health. It also contains tyrosine alkaloids that provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory benefits. This oil adds great flavor when pan-frying meats or making bean dishes. Locust bean trees are widespread across Nigeria.


Nigeria is home to a diverse array of traditional cooking oils. From groundnut and palm oils to ofada and ugba oil, each has its own nutritional profile and place in Nigerian cuisine. When choosing a cooking oil, consider its fatty acid content, versatility, and flavor. Oils like olive and coconut work well for low to medium-heat cooking. For high temperatures, groundnut, cottonseed, and palm oils stand up best. Sesame, banga and ogbono oils can elegantly flavor soups and stews. With health benefits from vitamins and antioxidants, wise use of these oils can support wellbeing. Nigeria’s array of cooking oils reflects the country’s rich food heritage.


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