Cooking with shea butter is associated with lower blood pressure in the Ghanaian population.
- Epidemiology and Public Health Scientific Team
The cardiovascular health benefits of shea butter, an edible off-white or ivory-colored fat native to West Africans has never been investigated. This is in spite of anecdotal evidence, which suggests that shea butter may have medicinal properties and its bioactive constituents lower certain cardiovascular risk markers. We hypothesized that cooking with shea butter would be associated with lower blood pressure (BP) in the Ghanaian population. Data from the 2014 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey, a nationally representative population-based survey was analyzed. A total of 9396 women aged 15-49 years and 4388 men aged 15-59 years selected from 12,831 sampled households were included in the study. Respondents with average systolic BP of >/=140 mmHg or average diastolic BP of >/=90 mmHg were classified as hypertensive. Multivariable linear and logistic regression adjusting for gender, age, area of residence, religion, ethnic group, marital status, education and wealth index was used to establish the association between shea butter consumption and BP. Overall prevalence of hypertension in the population was 15.1%. Shea butter consumption was associated with 2.43 mmHg (95% CI: -3.54, -1.31) and 1.78 mmHg (95% CI: -2.71, -0.86) decrease in systolic BP and diastolic BP, respectively, and 25% (AOR = 0.75, 95% CI: 0.55, 1.04) reduced odds of hypertension, compared to use of vegetable oils. Region of residence appeared to modify the relationship. We found an association of shea butter consumption with lower BP, which provides the rationale for investigation through rigorous study designs to evaluate the benefits of shea butter consumption for prevention of hypertension and improved cardiovascular health.