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Why Healthy Palm Oil is not an Oxymoron

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08 June 2015

cooking, health

Why Healthy Palm Oil is not an Oxymoron

When people hear about palm oil the first thing that usually comes to their mind is heart disease. The logic is pretty simple: fifty per cent of the oil consists of saturated fat that supposed to be bad for the heart, therefore, palm oil causes heart disease. However, numerous studies continue to confirm that palm oil does not promote heart problems and, if anything, it protects against them. But why is it the case? It contradicts to the simple logic we are used to follow for many years, that all saturated fats are bad for us. Let’s try to puzzle out the ambiguity.

The first general concern in respect to palm oil is as follows: if it contains saturated fat, it must contain cholesterol. However, only animal fats contain cholesterol and palm oil, as a vegetable oil, includes absolutely no cholesterol. Like all the other unrefined vegetable oils, red palm oil contains modest amount of plant sterols that are similar in structure to cholesterol. Plant sterols do not cause heart disease, but they can lower blood cholesterol. When consumed together competition between the two reduces the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed in the blood stream. Therefore, the plant sterols or phytosterols in red palm oil can help to improve blood cholesterol levels.

Another common belief is that palm oil is an “artery-clogging saturated fat.” The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) was using this statement to instil fear into people’s minds against tropical oils. However, it is not only untrue, it also does not make sense. Saturated fat does not clog arteries. Studies of the fatty acids in arterial plaque reveal that most of the fat that clogs up arteries is unsaturated. Only oxidized fat become sticky and cling to artery walls. Saturated fats are highly resistant to oxidation and are not easily oxidised.

Finally, the most widespread concern over palm oil is that it raises blood cholesterol. It is actually true that saturated fats tend to raise level of blood cholesterol. However, this issue is complicated. There are nine different saturated fatty acids and only three of them raise blood cholesterol. Moreover, no oil is one hundred per cent saturated or polyunsaturated or monounsaturated. All natural fats contain a combination of all three of fatty acids and, therefore, each dietary fat will have a different effect on blood cholesterol, depending on its fatty acids profile. Red palm oil is exceptionally rich on phytosterols, tocopherols, and tocotrienols, all of which have cholesterol lowering effect. Palm oil used in a normal diet does not have a harmful effect on cholesterol.

Palm oil has had a long history of food use, dating back to over 5000 years. It has been used for generations by the people of tropical Africa as an essential ingredient in ethnic dishes. It is actually the nutrition-packed beneficial fat source that can supply number of health benefits to the body. It is a natural source of vitamin E & carotenoids in addition to fatty acids and other essential fat-soluble micronutrients.

References:
Fife B. (2007) The palm Oil Miracle. Colorado Springs, USA : Piccadilly Books

 

Blog & News

Palm Oil Is Everywhere

Palm oil (Elaeis guineensis) originates from West Africa. Once planted, after 3-4 years’ palm oil trees start to producing its first fruits and will continue all year-round for up to 30 years. Oil Palm is high yielding; it produces more oil per hectare than any other major oil seed crop.

Did you know that half of your items in your house contain palm oil?
Palm oil is also the most widely consumed vegetable oil on the planet

farmers, social reponsibility, environment, organic

Why Farm Organically?

With a growing population, nearly 10 billion people by 2050, and an increasing demand for food, agriculture is placed under extreme pressure. We heavily rely on services that the industry provides to us, such as food, clothes, wood, and many others. Unfortunately, with biodiversity losses and deforestation practices that accompany modern agriculture, these services are currently at risk. Therefore, we must take actions to sustain biodiversity, soils and forests for the generations to come

social reponsibility, environment, farmers, organic

An Important Role of Intercropping in Modern Agriculture

Population of our planet is constantly growing. The threat of insufficient food supply in the near future encourages intensification of the search for more productive agricultural technics. At Natural Habitats, we believe that well-planned intercropping is one of the most effective and sustainable ways to increase agricultural productivity.

Intercropping, as well as other forms of multiple cropping, is an ancient method of intensive agriculture that involves cultivation of two or more crops simultaneously on the same field

environment, farmers

Mainstream Sustainable Palm Oil Production in Ecuador

Deforestation caused by many palm-oil producers, harming wildlife habitats, has been a widespread concern around the world. However, more and more palm oil is now being sourced sustainably with a help of the certification initiative promoted by a non-profit association Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) that aims to transform markets to make sustainable palm oil the norm. Natural Habitats as 100% organic and sustainable producer was certified with RSPO standard in 2013.

In May 2013, Natural Habitats in Ecuador (Exportsustent) together with Solidaridad and National Association of Oil Palm Growers (ANCUPA) developed a pioneering project Mainstream Sustainable Palm Oil Production in Ecuador

farmers, environment, partnership, social reponsibility

An Ongoing Education of Farmers

Natural Habitats believes in doing business in harmony with the environment. This is the reason for us to continuously encourage smallholder farmers in Ecuador and Sierra Leone into getting involved in organic and sustainable production of palm oil.

On a regular basis, we educate and train our smallholder farmers in nature preservation and organic farming practices for not only their own good but for the betterment of the society

farmers, partnership, social reponsibility

Fair Trade Explained

Today, we are surrounded by numerous certifications on the products we buy at supermarkets. It is getting more and more confusing to figure out what exactly most of them stand for. Some labels are self-explanatory and some are not. Fair for Life Social and FairTrade certification belongs to the second category. Therefore, most of the consumers do not even realize that while they purchase Fair for Life or FairTrade certified products they contribute to the empowerment of poor around the world

farmers, social reponsibility, environment

Why Healthy Palm Oil is not an Oxymoron

When people hear about palm oil the first thing that usually comes to their mind is heart disease. The logic is pretty simple: fifty per cent of the oil consists of saturated fat that supposed to be bad for the heart, therefore, palm oil causes heart disease. However, numerous studies continue to confirm that palm oil does not promote heart problems and, if anything, it protects against them

cooking, health

Sustaining Food Security

Pressure on the world’s food supply is constantly increasing due to population growth, changing diets and government policies promoting biofuels. Current estimates suggest that by 2050 the food demand will be twice what it was in 2005. Biotech companies have strongly promoted the idea that genetically engineered (GE) crops are the key to “feeding the world”. According to Environmental Working Group , recent studies show that this promise has fallen flat

environment, farmers, social reponsibility