Palm Oil: Good or Bad?

Several years ago, research was conducted, studies were conducted that literally stunned: the most common in the domestic industry was palm oil. Naturally, logical questions arose: how useful is this product? And why was it used as a substitute for much more traditional animal and vegetable fats — butter, sunflower and others?

The answers were not the most comforting. It turned out that palm oil has only one advantage — it is much cheaper than all its competitors! In addition, in the composition of mixtures, it is difficult to distinguish from the much more expensive and popular butter.

What about the benefits or harms of palm oil? Here immediately appeared a lot of publications of the opposite meaning. The rising wave of criticism was immediately extinguished by pseudoscientific articles signed by unknown “doctors” of medical and biological Sciences. Their authors tried to convince readers of the benefits of palm oil for humans, giving outwardly convincing arguments. But is this true? Let’s figure it out.

Myths about the benefits of palm oil

Myths about the benefits of palm oilThe authors of all articles about the benefits of palm oil mention the high content of vitamins, carotenes and other useful chemical compounds for humans. At the same time, they usually “forget” that all this applies only to unrefined oil, which has a liquid consistency and a red-orange color. And this oil is really useful in limited quantities. But it is very expensive! And so it is practically not used in the food industry, even in the United States or Switzerland, not to mention our country.

The next level is refined palm oil. It contains much less useful substances than red, untreated. And it is, of course, much cheaper. However, this liquid, almost colorless product is not very well suited for mass use in the food industry. After all, it is not more profitable for the price than traditional vegetable fats for us, and it is not very convenient to transport it over long distances (and it is produced very far from us, in Africa and other Equatorial-tropical regions).

And what kind of oil is widely used in the domestic industry? It is worth remembering the notorious modern technologies, which are not always used for the benefit of man.

Hydrogenated oil

The oil obtained by hydrogenation is almost a solid product that resembles wax or paraffin. There are almost no vitamins that are useful for a person. But with an excess of ” bad ” fatty acids that contribute to an increase in cholesterol levels and the risk of many dangerous diseases. And it is this hydrogenated edible palm oil, the cheapest of all, that is usually used in the production of” sour cream”,” cream”,” ice cream “and”cheese”.

We did not write the word “food” above for nothing. After all, there is also technical palm oil. It is intended for the chemical industry. Is it used in the manufacture of ice cream and other pseudo-dairy products? Let’s hope not. Although no one will give guarantees.

So, we have sorted out the” benefits ” of palm oil. Now, if you read something like “the Egyptians used it even under Tutankhamun”, just remember the following fact: the ancient Egyptians knew nothing about the technology of hydrogenation and used an unrefined natural product, which today is comparable in price to expensive varieties of olive oil. Therefore, no one will add it to products.

Harm of palm oil to human health

Now we turn to a more important question — is the harm of palm oil to humans exaggerated? Is its use fraught with the development of dangerous diseases? Unfortunately, the answer is Yes. But let’s take it one at a time. Let’s start with the chemical composition.

The main component of palm oil is palmitic acid, which accounts for almost half of the product weight (44 %). This is a saturated fatty acid — exactly what is usually called “fat”in everyday life. Even in lard, this acid is only 30 %, even less in butter-25 %. Its use increases the level of cholesterol in the body.

Many people remember the advertising of one brand of sunflower oil- “without cholesterol”. In fact, cholesterol is a compound of animal origin, and vegetable fats do not contain it. There is no it in palm oil, which is often emphasized by the defenders of the latter. But it is not necessary to use it directly to increase cholesterol! Simply include more palmitic acid in your diet — and this will be enough.

When analyzing the composition of palm oil, another point is striking — the low concentration of linoleic acid. This compound belongs to polyunsaturated omega-6 acids. Its use can reduce the same cholesterol and other negative factors of saturated fat. However, there is very little of it in palm oil.

Some advocates of the” African diet ” write that this problem is solved easily — you just need to use products that contain a lot of linoleic acid for balance: cedar and linseed oil, wheat germ. Very common and inexpensive products, right? Especially cedar oil! You understand the price of such advice.

Having briefly described the composition of palm oil, we proceed to a more detailed description of the dangers that its use brings.

What harm does palm oil do to the cardiovascular system?

It is not for nothing that we have focused on increasing cholesterol levels above. This indicator is one of the most important criteria for assessing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. In the developed world, it is the diseases of this body system that account for the largest number of deaths — more than all sorts of accidents, plane crashes, fires and road accidents combined.

You can often hear various diseases called the plague of the XXI century. However, it is heart attacks and strokes that can rightfully bear this not the most honorable title. And all heart diseases are accompanied by one inevitable companion-high cholesterol. What is the danger of this seemingly necessary substance for our body?

Risk of high cholesterol

If cholesterol becomes too much, it accumulates on the walls of blood vessels. Then the vessels are narrowed, clogged, there are plaques that prevent the flow of blood. The pressure increases, and the tissue cells get less oxygen. The body itself can not cope with the mechanism of accumulation and deposition of “bad” cholesterol once started. Medical intervention is required, which sometimes is not able to completely solve the problem.

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But it all started with this “little thing” – increased use of palm oil. These facts can not be disputed even by the defenders of this alien product for us — because the ability of palmitic acid to increase the generation of cholesterol is recognized by the scientific community! So they have to confusedly claim that ” other oils are also worse.” Like, the use of other vegetable fats also increases cholesterol — and this is not true.

It is the use of palm oil (especially hydrogenated, which is found in most products) that leads to clogging of blood vessels, the appearance of plaques, and blockage of veins and arteries. The result is atherosclerosis, blood clots, and an increased risk of strokes and heart attacks.

So if you want to live to old age, think about reducing the use of palm oil. Because heart disease can cause an irreversible blow to health in a fully blooming age. A person may not even suspect that they have problems until a blood clot that is slightly larger than a grain of sand breaks off and rushes toward the heart valve. Take care of yourself!

What else is dangerous about palm oil

Unfortunately, the harm of palm oil to health is not limited exclusively to cardiovascular problems. It is not well digested by the digestive system and is absorbed by our body. As a result, slags accumulate, and toxins appear in the process of decomposition of the product components that are not completely split. The presence of a large proportion of “bad” saturated fat in the product increases the likelihood of cancer – this is the second scourge of our society after heart disease.

It is important to note that the use of palm oil at first almost does not affect the health of a person. He simply does not notice that his blood pressure is gradually increasing, his appetite is deteriorating, his performance is decreasing, and various problems are accumulating. And if he notices — he blames everything on stress and workload at work. And then it may be too late. Heart disease is not a joke, just like cancer!

But the dangers of palm oil lie in wait not only for people of age, but also for the youngest of us.

Harm in baby food

Harm in baby foodBaby food should be as balanced as possible — this is an axiom. After all, an incomplete diet is fraught with irreversible disorders in the development of the body for children. In infancy, many systems are just being formed. It is in the first months that the Foundation is laid for all the long decades of life. Unfortunately, palm oil was “marked” even in the field of baby food.

Studies have shown that the presence of palm oil in infant formula significantly reduces the absorption of calcium-about 1.5 times, and in some cases — twice or even more! This means that the child’s rapidly growing body received almost 2 times less calcium than it needed for full development. But this is the main element of our skeleton. It turns out that children who eat such mixtures simply did not have enough “building material” for the growth of bones and cartilage!

Another problem is the deterioration of digestion, incomplete absorption of other components of food mixtures. Because of this, the child may receive less nutrients than it needs. Plus bad health due to incomplete digested food.

Therefore, you should pay special attention to the composition of baby food. It is not permissible to save on such a product. Be sure to make sure that it does not contain palm oil.

Damage to the environment

Palm oil does not only harm the health of individuals. The industry that produces this product is the most dangerous factor for the biocenosis of the tropical regions of the planet. To make room for plantations, millions of hectares of evergreen forests are cut down, which are not for nothing called the lungs of the globe. As a result, hundreds of thousands of years of existing biocenoses are destroyed, and the habitat of many wild animals, including rare and endangered species, is destroyed.

The oil production process is also dangerous for the employees themselves. The local population works literally for a penny in unsanitary conditions with increased injuries. It turns out that the consumers of palm oil, the workers on the plantations, and the forests that are being cut down are suffering from it.

How to determine the presence of palm oil in the product?

According to the law, manufacturers are required to specify the content of any component in the product. The full composition must be shown on the packaging label. For example, for natural butter, specify: cream from cow’s milk. There shouldn’t be anything else. If there are any “vegetable fats”, it means that it is already margarine or spread.

Honest manufacturers honestly report that the product includes palm oil. It can also be “hidden” under definitions such as” vegetable oil “or”vegetable fat”. Most often, in this case, the composition will be exactly palm oil. Another possible name is “palm olein”. This is the name of one of the oil fractions that is most often used in the production of baby food.

Increased risk of content of palm oil in margarine and different products with names such as “butter”, “sour cream”. If you write “cheese product” instead of “cheese”, it means that there is a high probability of palm oil content in it, as in other “milk-containing” products. The last definition means that the product contains milk (not 100%), but also in the composition of the product there are vegetable fats.

If the composition is not specified in detail-pay attention to the cost. If butter is much cheaper than similar products of other brands, almost certainly there instead of cream from cow’s milk are used the same “vegetable fats”. Similarly, sour cream, cheese, cottage cheese and other dairy products, as well as chocolate. Another alarming point is that the shelf life is too long.

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