Palm oil?

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Palm oil?

Postby Rahsaan » Wed Jul 31, 2013 4:22 pm

Does anyone have views on the health aspects of red palm oil?

I always had it in the back of my mind that it wasn't the healthiest cooking oil, although I had also heard reports that when used in moderation it can be just fine.

However I never really paid attention because I was just fine with my usual olive oil, butter, and occasionally canola oil. Until I was walking in Whole Foods the other week and saw a jar of glistening red palm oil that looked so delicious and interesting. So before I buy the stuff and start using it too liberally, I figured I would see what folks thought?
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Re: Palm oil?

Postby Jenise » Wed Jul 31, 2013 4:57 pm

Funny you ask. Just last week I was standing in a WFM having the same conversation with myself. Somewhere long ago I was wanting to do a Brazilian recipe that for authenticity's sake required palm oil for color and flavor, but couldn't find any because it was so evil. I ended up not doing the dish. But there it was last week--I've never seen it before.

I came home and looked it up and learned it's not the greatest, it's not the worst. Can't find today exactly what I found last week, but this blog entry in answer to your same question by one Judy Silver MD, Harvard Med School, makes essentially the same points:

Palm oil, palm kernel oil, and coconut oil. the so-called tropical oils, got a bad reputation in this country some years ago because they're high in saturated fat, which has long been linked to heart disease. Saturated fat boosts LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, both of which are risk factors for heart disease. Palm oil, which is 50% saturated, has a more favorable fatty acid composition than palm kernel oil and coconut oil, which are more than 85% saturated. In general, the higher the saturated fat content, the more solid a fat is at room temperature. Palm oil is semisolid at room temperature but can be processed into a liquid cooking oil.

In recent years, we've learned a lot more about the health effects of various fats. The honor of unhealthiest fat now goes to trans fat, which not only increases LDL and triglyceride levels, but also reduces HDL cholesterol. Most trans fat is artificially created through hydrogenation. Partially hydrogenated oil, used in many processed baked goods and snacks and for frying foods, is a major source of trans fat.

In 2006 the FDA started requiring that trans fat be listed on nutrition labels. Because of that requirement and bans on trans fat like those in New York City and elsewhere, many food manufacturers and restaurants have stopped using trans fat and are looking for alternatives. One of them is palm oil. It's less saturated than butter and contains no trans fat. But just because it's not as bad as trans fat doesn't make it a health food. According to Harvard nutrition experts, palm oil is better than higher trans fat shortenings and probably a better choice 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.
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Re: Palm oil?

Postby Rahsaan » Wed Jul 31, 2013 5:40 pm

Jenise wrote:Funny you ask. Just last week I was standing in a WFM having the same conversation with myself. Somewhere long ago I was wanting to do a Brazilian recipe that for authenticity's sake required palm oil for color and flavor, but couldn't find any because it was so evil. I ended up not doing the dish. But there it was last week--I've never seen it before.

I came home and looked it up and learned it's not the greatest, it's not the worst. Can't find today exactly what I found last week, but this blog entry in answer to your same question by one Judy Silver MD, Harvard Med School, makes essentially the same points:


Funny. And sounds good. I was sure that it wouldn't be the automatic death that some people fear. But it is good to get a calibration of how it compares to other oils/fats, so as to get a sense of portions.
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Re: Palm oil?

Postby Karen/NoCA » Wed Jul 31, 2013 8:23 pm

I was in one of our health food stores today and saw the beautiful bottle of red palm oil. Never gave buying it a thought because it has always been a no-no food. I was tempted to pick it up and read about it on the label, but I was on a mission for ingredients to make a cinnamon-golden raisin bread which uses brown rice flour as an ingredient. The color was impressive. Here is an excerpt of what Dr. Oz says about red palm oil:

Palm kernel oil does not convey the same health benefits that red palm fruit oil does. The health benefits are only achieved due to the red color of the palm fruit oil that is attributed to its high content of carotenes, which include beta-carotene and lycopene. These powerhouse antioxidant nutrients are the same ones that give tomatoes and carrots and other fruits and vegetables their rich red and orange colors. What may shock you is that red palm fruit oil contains more that tomatoes or carrots. Red palm fruit oil is also densely packed with numerous tocotrienols – a powerful form of vitamin E.
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