If you have ever thought about what we eat every day, then surely the topic of palm oil has not bypassed you. Today, this is one of the most pressing issues for people involved in their health.
Being interested in various facts from the field of medicine, you probably met diametrically opposed opinions about this food product. Apparently, there are reasons for this.
We suggest that you briefly familiarize yourself with the basic concepts of palm oil, as well as the benefits and harms that it carries.
What is palm oil
Palm oil is a vegetable oil that is obtained from the fleshy part of the oil palm fruit. The oil from the seeds of this palm tree has a similar name – palm kernel oil.
Contrary to popular belief, this is a very ancient food product that was actively used in ancient Egypt.
Anyone, even a person far from cooking, understands the importance of oil. So, since 2015, palm oil has outstripped soybean and rapeseed oil, which are among the most in demand in the world, in terms of the number of products produced.
Palm oil also surpasses the production of sunflower oil, ahead of it by 2.5 times.
Thus, it ranks first in the world in terms of production, being the absolute leader. This is not surprising, because only Nestlé, one of the largest food producers in the world, buys about 420,000 tons of palm oil per year.
For comparison, we present the data for 2005. Palm oil production amounted to about 47 million tons. Traditionally, its largest suppliers are Malaysia (17 million tons), Indonesia (20 million tons).
Why is palm oil so widespread in the world? The fact is that it, being resistant to oxidation, can be stored for a long time. And it is very cheap at the same time.
Where is palm oil used?
Palm oil is used in food, cosmetics and other biochemical products. An interesting fact is that over the past decades, the rapid demand for palm oil has led to the fact that tropical forests began to be cut down en masse, and oil palm plantations began to appear in their place.
From the point of view of ecology, this is an extremely serious thing that has long been on the agenda of international organizations.
oil palm plantation
If you think that palm oil is not used by you in everyday food, then you are deeply mistaken. Waffles and biscuits, cakes and creams, melted cheese and condensed milk, cottage cheese desserts and much more – all of this contains palm oil.
In short, it is easier to name those foodstuffs where it is not.
The benefits of palm oil
Raw (red) palm oil contains more vitamin E (see interesting facts about vitamins) than sunflower oil. In terms of the amount of carotenoids (including vitamin A precursors), it far exceeds all vegetable oils, not yielding even to fish oil.
It is the amount of carotene, according to some researchers, that can reduce the risk of cancer. It should be borne in mind that the use of large doses of beta-carotene may, on the contrary, increase this risk.
However, it should be added that palm oil, which is used in the food industry, is refined and does not contain carotene at all. As for vitamin E, in refined palm oil it is only 8-16 mg per 100 g.
If we talk about the benefits of palm oil, then it is impossible not to mention that it does not contain cholesterol. However, like sunflower oil.
However, the palmitic acid contained in it can stimulate the production of cholesterol by the body itself. Thus, palm oil is equivalent to butter, lard or chocolate in terms of the risk of cholesterol.
Although some scientists do not agree with this statement, and compare palm oil with olive oil according to this indicator.
There is also an unconditional benefit from a large amount of triglycerides. Their peculiarity lies in the fact that when they get into the liver, they immediately go to generate energy, while not getting into the bloodstream. And this, as you know, is very important for athletes and those who, due to their professional activities, are obliged to keep their figure in perfect condition.
Harm of palm oil
But let’s look at the harm of palm oil, as it is talked about more often than the benefits. The main harm of this product is considered to be a large amount of saturated fats in its composition. And this contributes, first of all, to the development of diseases of the human cardiovascular system.
Linoleic acid, which is so valued in vegetable oils, is found in palm oil in an amount of 5%, while other oils have 50-80% of this acid.
Many researchers agree that palm oil is very refractory and is not completely processed by the body. In this regard, there is a considerable deposition of slag.