Is Palm Oil Good for You?

Contrary to the preconceived notion that palm oil is not good for our health, it is in reality, a healthy fat source in its natural form. Despite the fact that it is loaded with saturated fatty acids, using unrefined palm oil remains to be a much ideal option compared to cooking with the use of hydrogenated vegetable oil.

Palm oil is derived from African oil palm (Elaeis guineensis). This tree produces a fleshy fruit that serves as a source of both palm and palm kernel oil. However, unlike palm kernel oil, palm oil has a higher amount of saturated fat and has to be heavily processed to be extracted. Palm oil has been popular for being the most versatile of all vegetable oils for it contains an equally balanced amount of saturated and unsaturated fats. It turns to a semi-solid phase when placed under room temperature. It has become a perfect ingredient for baked goods and packaged foods due to its odorless and tasteless characteristics. It works perfectly with fried and stir-fried food because its fineness does not dwindle even under extremely high heat. Furthermore, palm oil is highly resistant to oxidation, and therefore, any food containing it does not perish right away.

How good is it for our health?

You have probably heard of palm oil being mistakenly believed to be a cause of high cholesterol build-up in our heart arteries. Notwithstanding, palm oil is different and has a lot less saturated fat than coconut and palm kernel oil.

Here are the reasons that justify why palm oil is a better alternative:

  • Palm oil provides the same essential fat used in making pastries, cookies, crackers and other items that require a longer shelf life.
  • Palm oil is a great ingredient for cooking and baking. It is being generally used ubiquitously as cooking oil and a prominent component of margarines and shortenings.
  • Palm oil products are naturally occurring sources of vitamin E, a widely known antioxidant. These natural antioxidants reinvigorate our cells and removes harmful toxins from our body. They play a vital role in the prevention of cellular aging, atherosclerosis, degenerative diseases, and certain cancers.
  • Animal studies have shown that tocotrienols (found in palm oil) have the great potential in reversing blockage of the carotid artery and platelet aggregation thus reducing the risks of stroke and other heart diseases. It also aids in the prevention of tumor formations.
  • Palm fruit oil consists of a variety of fats, vitamins and minerals, and zero trans-fatty acids.  Several recent studies have incriminated trans-fatty acids to pose huge risks of cancer by interfering with fat metabolism, embedding fatty deposits in the arteries, and maiming the body’s ability to purge itself of certain contributors to serious illnesses.
  • Palm fruit oil contains many valuable vitamins that our bodies need for proper nutrition.

Given the benefits of palm oil on our health, it is about time that you incorporate it in your diet regularly.

Helpful Palm Oil Nutritional Facts References:

• Cottrell, R.C., (1991) Nutritional aspects of palm oil. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 53: 989S – 1009S.
• Calloway, D.H. and Kurtz, G.W (1956) The absorbability of natural and modified fats. Food Research 21: 621-629
• Agriculture Handbook 8-4 (1979). Composition of Foods, United States Department of Agriculture, Science and Education Administration, Washington, D.C.
• Life Sciences Research Office (1985). The Health Aspects of Trans-Fatty Acids, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, Rockville, MD.
• Krinsky, N.I. (1993). Actions of carotenoids in biological systems. Ann. Rev. Nutr. 13:561-588.
• Walton, J.R. and Packer, L. (1980) Free radical damage and protection: relationship to cellular aging and cancer. In: Vitamin E, a Comprehensive Treatise, ed. L.J. Machlin, Marcel Dekker, Inc. New York, pp. 495-517