There is much debate and discussion among doctors and researchers about the benefits and harms of food additives such as palm oil. Most of the debate concerns whether foods that contain palm oil should be consumed or not, and whether it is harmful or does not have a strong burden on the body.
How is palm oil made?
This oil is obtained by processing the soft part of the fruit of a special oil-bearing variety of palm. But this oil is only produced by one species out of all the palm trees around: the oil palm. Its fruits have been processed since ancient times. Egyptian merchants spread palm oil around the world, selling it in markets as well as exchanging it for other products. So the oil, because of its low cost, is quite widely used. It is distributed to almost every country in the world and is suitable for use in a large category of foods. It is widely used because of its low cost.
Oil palm fruit
Even today, the oil is most widely used in places where palm trees grow, but it is also supplied to other countries, including the CIS countries. To understand whether the oil is harmful or useful, it is necessary to study its features.
The product obtained from palm trees has a rich reddish-orange color. The smell as well as the taste of the oil is unobtrusive, which allows using it in the production of almost any product. The oil structure is thick and requires dilution. After conducting all the necessary studies, the United Nations organizations for agriculture and health have classified palm oil as an acceptable food product.
The main point of contention is whether the fatty acids in foods prepared with the oil are harmful or beneficial. Oil contains such substance as palmitic acid, and it is this substance that causes the formation and accumulation of cholesterol plaques in blood vessels, but only if it is consumed in large quantities. So, palm oil can be called harmful rather than useful.
So, such oils contain: lauric, myristic, palmitic acids, which increase the level of cholesterol in the blood. Stearic acid, which has a neutral effect on human blood, contains only 4%. All other 96% are substances that either lower or raise (negatively affect) the level of cholesterol.
Almost the whole world buys the oil from the producing countries. For the most part this can be explained by its cheapness and ability to preserve products. Oil is produced by those countries where oil palm trees grow. Most often oil is bought by Russia and Ukraine and other foreign European countries.
The main consumers are the European Union countries, as well as Russia, Ukraine, China and the United States.
Where is palm oil used?
There are several areas in which palm oil is used: in the manufacture of dairy products, confectionery products, convenience foods. Due to its properties, palm oil does not impart any extraneous taste or smell to food and is almost identical to other edible oils.
Thus, it can be noted that palm oil is used only in the preparation of the food that passes through the conveyor. For those who want to avoid using this type of oil, it is necessary to buy only natural products, such as fish, vegetables, fruits, dried fruits.
You should also pay attention to the fact that the oil palm, from which oil is extracted, is highly productive. However, it occupies a fairly large area of land, which does not stop producers who want to get more money. They plant palm trees in every possible place, and this greatly affects the ecology: the tropics are disappearing. The forests are simply being destroyed to make room for oil palms.
From an ecological point of view, it is not only the rainforests that are in danger, but also the animals that live in them. In Malaysia, they have taken this problem seriously and stopped cutting down the forests. Now palm trees are being planted in already developed areas.
The health effects of oil are another matter. The greatest danger is cholesterol, which is contained in palm oil. And although its amount per unit of product is insignificant, when consumed immoderately, it can be harmful to the body. Thus, if we take into account the daily dose of palm oil recommended by doctors, not more than 300 milligrams per day, we can conclude that palm oil products should be reduced, but it is not necessary to get rid of them completely.
Foods such as chocolate bars, convenience foods, cream, some types of sausages, and butter should be reduced. It is best to replace palm oil with oils such as sunflower, corn or olive oil.
According to worldwide studies on palm oil, the following conclusions have been drawn:
- Heart disease can occur with excessive consumption of oil. A dose of more than 400 mg per day is considered excessive;
- Regular use of oil in foods can also increase the likelihood of heart attack if there is a predisposition to it in a person;
- When used in moderation, butter can even benefit the body by increasing the amount of cholesterol in the blood. However, when consumed in moderation, it also increases «bad» cholesterol.
How do you know if a product contains palm oil?
Usually it is stated as palm oil or vegetable oil, sometimes it can be indicated as vegetable fats. Also indications that products contain palm oil can be: low price and long shelf life.
Palm oil is much cheaper than its counterparts and is stored for much longer.
It is impossible to say unequivocally about the harm or benefits of palm oil, but one thing is absolutely clear: it is necessary to adhere to a measure. Since today it is widespread and not everyone can afford to eat only natural products, it is necessary to monitor the amount of products containing palm oil and not to exceed the permissible amount.