Oil of Contradictions: Palm Oil

Your shampoo, ice cream, margarine and lipstick all contain palm oil. It has been reported that global palm oil production has doubled in the last 10 years. In 2000, palm oil was declared by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) as the most produced and sold vegetable oil. Palm oil, which accounts for 40% of internationally traded vegetable oils, rose to 65% by 2006. World palm oil demand is expected to increase to 240 million tons by 2050. New crops are being developed and existing crops are being expanded in Indonesia, Malaysia and other Asian countries as well as in Africa and Latin America. Palm oil comes from the fruit of the palm tree (Elaeis guineensis). It can be divided into a wide variety of oils with different properties. Palm oil is solid at room temperature.

Today, places of use;

Used as cooking oil

Main ingredient for most margarines

Used in confectionery, ice cream and ready meals

Base for liquid detergents, soaps and shampoos

Base for lipstick, waxes and polishes

Used as an industrial lubricant

Used as biofuel

Because of this versatility, it has begun to replace animal and other vegetable oils in various products. Also, in addition to its versatility, palm oil is also a very productive plant. While the production amount is lower, the yield (oil produced per hectare per year) is much higher than other vegetable oils. In fact, unprocessed palm oil in the food industry is used to prevent vitamin A deficiency, cancer, brain disease, aging; It is also used to treat malaria, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cyanide poisoning. Palm oil is recommended to be used for weight loss and to increase the body’s metabolism, it is premature to reach full consensus for its long-term effects.

On the other hand, the health effects of palm oil, palm fruit kernel oil (kernel oil) and coconut oil (tropical oils) are discussed because of their high saturated fat content. Saturated fats pose a risk for heart disease and increase “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Despite all these positive properties, because palm oil contains 50% saturated fat, when exposed to high heat, it turns into trans fatty acids, which pose a risk to health. For this reason, palm oil in ready-made packaged foods may have a carcinogenic effect.

Among the oils that we recommend to use in a healthy diet, the balance of oils such as olive oil, canola, sunflower oil and butter is important. Palm oil is less saturated than butter and contains no trans fats. However, palm oil is a better option than high-trans-fat shortenings, and possibly better than butter, but vegetable oils that are naturally liquid at room temperature, such as olive oil and canola oil, should still be your first choice. It will always give you an advantage to read the nutritional label while making our packaged food choices.

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