Palm oil is a vegetable oil that is produced from the meat of the fruit of palm trees. It has a dark red color when it is warm and in liquid form. Palm oil hardens slightly at room temperature because it has an average of about 50% saturated fat. When it is at room temperature the color lightens slightly to a dark orange.
There is another kind of palm oil called palm kernel oil. It’s produced from the seeds of the palm tree fruit. Palm kernel oil contains much less saturated fat than regular palm oil and does not solidify at room temperature. Is palm oil healthy? Let’s take a closer look.
General Information about Palm Oil
Palm oil has grown in popularity in recent years. In the United States, palm oil was considered too high in fat by most health-conscious Americans to be consumed. However, when specialty stores and health food stores started popularizing different oils from around the world made with organic and all natural ingredients, its popularity increased.
Is palm oil healthy even though it’s high in saturated fat? Palm oil does not have any hydrogenated or trans fats that have been proven to be very unhealthy forms of fat. It has about the same amount of fat as butter and is sourced from natural vegan sources.
This has given many food production companies a good reason to use palm oil instead of trans fats in their recipes for processed foods, as a result. Is palm oil healthy as a fat replacement in processed foods? It’s generally healthier than using trans fats, so this trend will probably continue for a while.
Items that Contain Palm Oil
- Cookies and crackers on store shelves probably contain palm oil. When you read the list of ingredients on a box of cookies or crackers, you might find vegetable oil on the list. Palm oil is a vegetable oil and is often used in foods like these because it’s very similar to butter in consistency, but cheaper.
- Margarine recipes often contain palm oil. However, it will often appear as vegetable oil on the label’s list of ingredients.
- Soaps might contain palm oil. Once again, industry standards do not force companies to differentiate between different types of vegetable oil. It’s used in many soaps in the United States, but more prominently in some African countries where the palm tree is a native plant.
- Cosmetics like lipstick and foundations contain palm oil when vegetable oil is listed as an ingredient.
Dangers of Palm Oil
Depending on where you get your information, the consumption of palm oil can be a good or bad thing in extremes of one another. Is palm oil healthy? Here are some facts:
1. High Saturated Fat
There is no argument about the high level of saturated fat in palm oil. While palm oil is a healthier type of fat than hydrogenated oil, it can still cause significant weight gain and high cholesterol levels.
2. Medication Interaction Risks
Palm oil has been shown to interact in negative ways with some medications. Palm oil might induce the clotting of blood. This is why it should not be consumed while taking medications that slow the clotting of blood because it can make them less effective.
3. High Fat and Inflammation
There have been studies that have shown that high fat levels consumed on a regular basis can cause diseases and health problems associated with inflammation.
Are There Benefits for Palm Oil?
Palm oil has many proven benefits for overall health and treatment of certain conditions. Palm oil has been shown to treat vitamin A deficiency. It has been used in third-world countries where the population is nutrient-deficient. Pregnant women are often given doses of palm oil to keep this from happening to them and their children.
Palm oil in very high in antioxidants. It doesn’t matter what the food source of antioxidants come from, they are always beneficial. This is true if the source is also high in fat, as in the case of palm oil.
Depending on your food tastes, palm oil can be a much better oil for pan frying foods and also for using in recipes. It’s good for frying foods because it does not break down and turn cancerous like other vegetable oils.
Is palm oil healthy for weight loss? It’s actually been used by many for losing weight because it is high in saturated and unsaturated fat. People who lose weight by restricting their consumption of food can benefit from taking small doses of palm oil for energy and vitamin nutrition. Palm oil is high in vitamins like beta-carotene and vitamin K. It’s also a great source for omega 3 fatty acids.
There are arguments for and against the use of palm oil. While it may have its fair share of health benefits, maybe we should also consider the negative effects palm oil production has on the environment. This, too, affects us all.
If you have any more information about palm oil you feel is useful, please help get the word out. Post a comment below and let us know what you think.