In Myanmar, cooking oil is an indispensable component of daily meals, contributing to their flavour and appeal. Despite the acknowledged drawbacks associated with excessive oil consumption, Myanmar’s populace continues to embrace oily meals as a routine part of their daily diet.
While a certain amount of oil is necessary for meal preparation, it is crucial to adhere to established limits. All foods inherently contain calories derived from oil, but an excess of oil can lead to adverse health effects. Consequently, social organizations and medical experts are advocating for a reduction in oil content in daily meals.
In accordance with health guidelines, individuals are advised to limit their daily oil and oily meal intake to 1.8 ticals (one tical is equal to 0.0163 kilogramme). Excessive oil consumption poses health risks, and it is essential to distinguish between saturated oil, unsaturated oil, and transformed oil. Unsaturated oils, including olive oil, groundnut oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, soybean oil, corn oil, and avocado oil, are deemed healthier options.
Saturated oils, found in pork, beef, chicken, palm oils, and dairy products, can affect health differently. Consumers are advised to minimize the use of these oils, ensuring that saturated oil constitutes less than 10 per cent of their daily caloric intake. Transformed oils, often resulting from deep frying or refining processes, should also be consumed judiciously.
As Myanmar relies heavily on agriculture, particularly oil crops, it is imperative to expand the cultivation of crops like groundnut, sesame, and sunflower for both domestic consumption and export purposes. Regions like Magway and Taninthayi have been recognized as vital contributors to the country’s oil production, playing a crucial role in bolstering the economy. In the 2022-23 cultivation season, approximately 800,000 acres were dedicated to oil crops, excluding oil palm plantations. This extensive cultivation is projected to yield 680,000 tonnes of cooking oil, surpassing the nation’s oil sufficiency needs by 26.2 per cent.
To achieve a balance between local consumption and export demands, individuals must consider increasing the production of cooking oil while concurrently reducing personal oil consumption to safeguard their health. This is because Myanmar prefers to eat too many oily meals on a daily basis, spending a large sum of money. By aligning daily oil consumption with recommended guidelines, individuals not only promote their well-being but also contribute to increased economic gains for the nation.