I was sitting down with a friend on evening and we were discussing food, health benefits and how horrible some of it is for a person. During our talk, I said that harvesting palm oil is very horrible for the environment, and I actively do not eat or buy anything with palm oil in it, unless it is sourced (very few products actually have sourced palm oil in them), and they said that palm oil is horrible for a person anyway. That began me wondering, how so? Therefore, I set out and researched palm oil. What I found seems like only the tip of the ice burg, since studies began. I know that the research is going to get much, much worse, and that people are going to have very serious conditions that will be linked to palm oil in the future, much worse than anything uncovered now. Let’s dive in.
Palm Oil, the fleshy fruit of oil palms. Red palm oil, unrefined palm oil, that is reddish – orange in color. This oil palm is grown on the Elais guineensis tree native to west and southwest Africa, its use dates back more than 5,000 years. Another tree, Elais Oleifera, grown in South America, rarely ever grown commercially, is made into a hybrid with Elaeis guineensis tree for palm oil production.
This production began in the 1980’s, but then production halted, because of concerns over heart health (which is still a very valid concern today), and replaced with trans fats or partially – hydronated oils that are high in trans fats, and animal fats, that are high in cholesterol, which lead to health concerns, like high body fat, heart attack, strokes, and pheripheral artery disease.
Appetite for Destructionfeatures the filmmaker, Michael Dorgan, participating in a groundbreaking new experiment, led by a group of Swedish Scientists, in which they compare eating muffins, containing large amounts of palm oil to eating muffins with an equal amount of sunflower oil per day. The relative impact on human health is surprising. “Beginning with a 4.6% body fat and after three weeks of conducting the experiment, his body fat nearly doubles to a whopping 7.4%. This adds 2kg of body fat to Michael’s body, and, another shocker, he lost a kilo of muscle loss. That’s bad. What is worse is that this is a national phenomenon. All over the United States, people are facing the same health issues as Michael. This means, “if Michael [or anybody] kept up similar palm oil consumption patterns, he could be at risk of developing metabolic disease, liver disease or cardio vascular disease. Palm oil increased the amount of fat stored around his liver and in his abdomen in particular, as well as, his total body fat,” (Yidiz). This is not the only source of palm oil being detrimental to a person’s health. Other scientist and health experts agree. Just look at the list of health concerns for why people should skip eating palm oil.
[Don’t be thrown off course when health experts
try to tell you it is good for you. They are trying
to sell you the idea palm oil is good for you,
because, well, they believe it is and they want
their bottom line.]
- High in Fat: When on consumes too much fat it can lead to weight gain, heart problems, and other chronic diseases. “According to the Institute of Medicine and Food Nutrition Board, adults eating a 2,000-calorie daily diet should consume no more than 44 to 78 grams of fat per day. 120 calories is found in just one tablespoon of palm oil, and that has 13.6 grams of fat. That is almost half of the minimum recommended daily amount.
- High in Saturated Fat: Harvard found that, “A diet rich in saturated fat can drive up total cholesterol, and tip the balance toward more harmful LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), which prompts [plaque or] blockages to form in the arteries, in the heart, and elsewhere in the body [leading to heart attack or stroke].” Limit saturated fats to under 10 calories per day.
- Cholesterol: We have talked much about cholesterol already, so what is left? Our body’s naturally create cholesterol from saturated fat, therefore we must watch our cholesterol. This is beginning to become increasingly difficult to do when food companies want to stuff our snacks and other refined food products with palm oil. What is worse is what Marion Nestle, author of What to Eat, has discovered that, “ palmic acid is a typed of fat in pam oil, she goes on to say in her book that this fat is, ‘especially adept at raising cholesterol levels,’ and that palm oils are decidedly worse that better for this reason,” (SF Gate).
- Hypertension and Free Radical Damage: Heated palm oil is a problem that causes free radical damage. Free radical damage is a problem for your skin, but also causes other health concerns over time like hypertension or high blood pressure. Eat raw whenever possible to help avoiding these problems.
What would be the Best Alternative to Palm Oil?
- Canola Oil: Canola oil is made from rapeseeds – toxic oil, erucic acid, removed – high levels of omega-3 oils, giving it a 7 percent rating. These omega-3’s are essential to balancing out the omega-6’s that we, as a cumulative whole, have too much of, and helps to create the optimal ratio of fatty acids for human cell health and human health in general.
- Others that follow canola oil for their stability are:
- Olive Oil
- Macadamia nut oil
- Coconut oi
- Sesame oil
- Others that follow canola oil for their stability are:
- Other oils are NOT suitable to cook with for they have the same problem as palm oil when heated up. They are polyunsaturated oils and the heat changes their chemical structures of the fatty acids and form free radicals. Use them for salad dressing.
- These oils are:
- Flaxseed oil
- Safflower oil
- Soy oil
- Sunflower oil
- These oils are:
Therefore, check your food labels for palm oil before checking out. Your health does not care if it is sourced or not source, it only functions accordingly to how it is fed and taken care of. My friend may have said one teeny-tiny comment, but that comment sparked an interest, and thus sparking the research I did to create this blog post. So, thank you friend. May you eat healthy, happy, and palm oil free.
Aubrey, Allison. “Palm Oil In The Food Supply: What You Should Know.” NPR, NPR, 25 July 2013, www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2013/07/25/205486197/palm-oil-in-the-food-supply-what-you-should-know.
Kannall, Erica. “Palm Oil Health Hazards.” Healthy Eating | SF Gate, SF Gate, healthyeating.sfgate.com/palm-oil-health-hazards-7375.html.
Publishing, Harvard Health. “The Truth about Fats: the Good, the Bad, and the in-Between.” Harvard Health Publishing, Hardvard University Medical School, 22 Aug. 2017, www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good.
Repatha. “What Causes High LDL?” Repatha, Amgen Cardiovascular, 2017, www.repatha.com/high-ldl-causes-treatment/?WT.srch=1&WT.z_co=A&WT.z_in=LDL&WT.z_ch=PDS&WT.z_st=Site1&WT.z_mt=e&WT.z_pdskw
Spritzler, Franziska. “Palm Oil: Good or Bad?” Healthline, Healthline Media, 13 Jan. 2017, www.healthline.com/nutrition/palm-oil#section2.
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. “Palm Oil Not A Healthy Substitute For Trans Fats, Study Finds.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 May 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090502084827.htm>.
Yildiz, Ashely Schaeffer. “Palm Oil: Bad for Forests, and Your Health.” The Understory, Rainforest Action Network, Oct. 2016, www.ran.org/palm_oil_bad_for_forests_and_your_health.