Talking About...
Palm Oil
Users Guide to
Palm Oil
The Soy Deception
Soy Is Not a Health Food
Soy and Soil Pollutants
Toxic Chemicals Banned in Organics but Common in "Natural" Food Production
Behind the Bean: The Heroes and Charlatans of the Natural and Organic Soy Foods Industry

No More Clearing
Sustainable Palm Oil
Soil Compaction

Palm Oil Production Concerns
Brazil Palm Oil Project
Daabon Plantations
Golden Hope Plantations
United Plantations Efforts

Palm Oil Boycott
Soy Damage in Brazil
California Fights Global Warming
Palm Deforestation:
Truth or Fiction?
Soy and Rainforest Destruction

Greenpeace for Palm Oil?
Foundation Response to Greenpeace

Perils of Palm Oil
Biodiesel Critical Assessment
Biofuels and Climate Change

GMO and Food Safety
Certified GMO Free
GMO Super Weeds

Talking About...Palm Oil

by Simon Wright - The Organic Consultancy

History - Palm oil is produced from the fruit of the oil palm Elaeis Guinnesis which is found in Africa, South East Asia and Latin America. Although humans have eaten the oil palm for over 5000 years commercial planting and cultivation did not begin until the mid-1990's in Malaysia.

Production and Uses - Palm oil is extracted and refined through pressing and crushing rather than through using chemical solvents such as hexane. Palm oil can be further refined into palm olein (liquid) and palm stearine (solid). Palm olein is used as a frying oil because it is very stable to heat, whilst palm stearine is used in biscuits and cakes and in non-hydrogenated margarine. Palm stearine is also used to stop peanut butter from separating. Palm oil resists oxidation and rancidity, which means products made using palm oil have extended shelf lives.

But I thought palm oil was highly saturated? - Palm oil is frequently confused with palm kernel oil, which is highly saturated. In contrast palm oil contains a balance of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated fatty acids. In addition palm oil contains essential substances such as linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid which the body cannot manufacture) and tocopherols and tocotrienols, which act as natural anti-oxidants against damaging free-radicals.

What about cholesterol? - Like other vegetable fats palm oil is free from cholesterol. Because palm oil is solid at room temperature there is no need to use hydrogenation, a technique which hardens liquid oil but also produces damaging trans fatty acids and raises cholesterol levels in the process. Human feeding studies have shown that palm oil does not ordinarily raise blood cholesterol levels and in some cases has been found to lower harmful LDL-cholesterol.

Any other health benefits? - Rats fed on a palm-oil enriched diet had a reduced tendency to form blood clots. Unrefined palm olein (which is bright red in colour) is a major source of carotenoids which inhibit some types of cancer. The unrefined oil is also a major source of beta-carotene, which is a precursor to Vitamin A.

So why does palm oil have such a bad reputation? - In the 1980's the American Soya Oil processors were worried about losing domestic sales to imports of palm oil from Malaysia. They set up organisations with names like American Heartsavers which purported to promote good health to consumers but in reality these organisations were a front for attacking "tropical" oils such as palm oil. The campaign culminated in full page newspaper advertisements carrying headlines such as "Stop The Poisoning Of America". Some of this misinformation trickled across the Atlantic and has left residual doubts in the minds of UK consumers and industry figures even today.

Source - Simon Wright, The Organic Consultancy

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