Palm oil is found in most products that we use every day, but not everyone knows what it is and why its use is a controversial issue.
Palm oil is very popular in the food industry. This is one of the tropical oils, which, along with coconut and palm kernel, is made from the fruits of oil palm. It is found in many foods, such as bread, biscuits, chocolate, cereals, cereals, and convenience foods. It is also used in the manufacture of soap, toothpaste, shampoo, household chemicals and decorative cosmetics.
Palm oil production is much cheaper than any other. The yield of the finished product per hectare is nine times greater than that of the nearest equivalent. According to Harvard Health Publishing, palm oil became popular in 2006, when the FDA announced that all trans fats should be listed on the package. Because of this, many food manufacturers have given up trans fat and instead began to use trans-fat palm oil.
Palm oil is a source of tocotrienols - a form of vitamin E with strong antioxidant properties that supports brain health. It can help improve the absorption of vitamin A in people with or at risk of deficiency.
Also palm oil does not contain cholesterol. And according to some studies, even helps to reduce the level of so-called bad cholesterol in the human body.
Palm oil can be free of trans fats, but it has a lot of saturated fat, which is a threat to the health of the cardiovascular system. A Livestrong report says that palm oil is more beneficial than partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. But less healthy than liquid oils, such as olive or canola. In 2016, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) raised the issue that a high level of 3-MCPD, a substance contained in refined palm oil, may adversely affect the functioning of the kidneys and the male reproductive system. While 3-MCPD is suspected of carcinogenicity, the EFSA revised its recommendations earlier this year, increasing the safe level of consumption of the compound.
If palm oil were produced in an ethical way, it would be a reasonable choice for any industry. However, it is currently used in about 50% of food and other household goods sold in the world. It is the most widely consumed vegetable oil on the planet. To meet this huge demand, tens of millions of tons of product are produced every year. However, production causes great harm to nature, as hectares of forest are cut down, which leads to climate change and the death of tens of thousands of animals.
Most palm oil is produced in Indonesia, where endangered orangutans live, as well as rhinos, tigers and their unique ecosystems.
Orangutans are in critical danger, as forests are bulldozed to make room for oil palm plantations. After creating such plantations, dozens of orangutans are forced to look for a new home. Hungry and out of their natural habitat, they try to find food in plantation areas. They are often killed in order to protect farmlands. Over 90% of the orangutan's habitat has been destroyed in the last 20 years.
There is also growing concern that palm oil production will soon spread to Africa and threaten the habitats of other primate species.
It is quite difficult to give a clear assessment of palm oil. This is definitely not the worst product on the market when it comes to human health. Add to this the low cost of production, and you get the oil that will be in demand. The boycott of palm oil in general is a complex problem. If you search for it purposefully, you will soon find out that it is contained in a huge amount of products and is often disguised. For example, it may be referred to as the equivalent or substitute of cocoa butter, palm olein, palm stearin).
However, if we blindly begin to boycott him, we put at risk the only means of livelihood for the millions of people who work in this industry. According to the WWF, palm oil production has actually helped pull many rural communities out of poverty.
Fiction or truth? Coconut oil and its components
In fact, if you look deeply into the chemical composition of this product, the language does not immediately turn to call it harmful or, even better, dangerous.
It turns out that it contains a very weighty amount of important and beneficial vitamin E, which includes tocotrienols - very rare and rather valuable for the human body trace elements, they are almost not found in foods of plant origin, but here is a pleasant exception.
In addition, a large amount of vitamin E allows you to fight free radicals that enter the body and cause cancer.
A large amount of vitamin A is also about palm oil, it is contained here 15 times more than in carrots or tomatoes, which is why it has a slightly reddish color. Here there is vitamin K, which prevents the ossification of cartilage, as well as the deposition of formations on the walls of blood vessels, due to which plaques and blood clots can form.
It is believed that palm oil also contributes well to the absorption of other vitamins, as well as magnesium and calcium, which so reluctantly linger in our body.
To a serious disadvantage of this product can be attributed a decent amount of saturated fat, which, if used regularly and in large quantities, can lead to cardiovascular diseases.
On the other hand, the same palm oil contains oleic and linoleic acids, which prevent the accumulation of harmful cholesterol.
So, what happens? Like any other product palm oil can be useful, just enough to use it in limited quantities? Apparently, but this moment is complicated by the fact that such a product has been used extensively enough: it is added to many foods, for example, to butter, cakes, chocolate, to many dairy products.
The fact is that palm oil has a special property - it is able to prolong the shelf life of the finished product for a long time, moreover, its production is much cheaper than other oils, which means that the cost price of such products will be quite low.
There is another area of application - cosmetology, many manufacturers actively absorb this product, adding it to virtually every tool. The fact is that it foams well, can serve as a stabilizer of the formula, which is why it is perfectly used in soap making.
In addition to cosmetology, palm oil has found another interesting application: it is added to baby food, especially with mixtures that are specially made for children younger than a year. Thus, they add the fat ratio, which makes them close to natural mother's milk.
Plus, it is added to mixtures of vitamins, besides, their shelf life is increased, which is also a plus, because it’s very bad if a missing child is suddenly caught in a small child. But still you should not be carried away by such mixtures, because, as we already said, you need to keep balance in everything, and excessive passion can lead to unpleasant consequences.
And yet, bad or not?
It turns out that there are several varieties of this product, each of which, most often, is used in a particular area. For example, red palm oil is considered to be the most valuable, useful and harmless. Special gentle technologies are used to obtain it, due to which it is possible to preserve most of the vitamins and other beneficial substances.
Outwardly, this oil is reddish, has a peculiar smell and sweet taste. There is another type - refined oil, it is difficult to call it very useful, it does not have a smell and taste, which was made specifically for its convenient use in the food industry, in most countries there are even special GOSTs, which set out all the requirements for such a product.
There is a third kind - technical, it is used in the cosmetic industry: it is added to soap, cosmetics, and much more. Most of the beneficial properties and all valuable substances are naturally found in red oil, which you should acquire if you want to try its healing properties on yourself.
Naturally, technical oil is cheaper than the others and is hardly distinguished by a special benefit, and in fact, high-quality red oil is able to heal wounds and rejuvenate the skin, giving it elasticity and a pleasant color.
Palm oil - the facts
- Palm oil is obtained from the fruits of oil palm. The oil extracted from the seeds of the fruit is called palm kernel oil.
- Palm oil is known to man for a long time. In ancient Egypt, vessels were found for the manufacture of palm oil, as well as jugs with the oil itself.
- Natural unrefined palm oil is an incredibly nutritious product. It is head and shoulders above all other vegetable oils in vitamin A content. In terms of vitamin E, it is even superior to sunflower oil.
- Raw red palm oil in content of vitamins A and E surpasses even fish oil! And vitamin A paints oil in a kind of reddish color.
- Carotenoids and tocotrienols in untreated palm oil prevent cancer.
- Crude palm oil does not contain cholesterol.
- The human body absorbs palm oil by 94.5%.
- For the industry, palm oil is refined, purified, decolorized and deodorized. This oil does not spoil for a long time, and has no smell and is ready for transportation to other countries.
- Purified palm oil does not contain vitamin A (carotene), and a small amount of vitamin E remains in it.
- Palm oil is added to products to reduce the price of products. For comparison: a ton of natural milk fat costs $ 3,000, and a ton of palm oil costs $ 580. Our manufacturers are getting richer day by day.
- Dairy and confectionery products sold in Russia can contain up to 100% purified and deodorized palm oil in the product.
- In Europe, palm oil is allowed to be used in the food industry with a peroxide value of 0.5. In Russia it is allowed to use with the index 10. This is a technical palm oil, which is used only in the production of cosmetics. And we are poisoned with food products with this oil.
- In the food industry, refined palm oil is added to infant formula, dairy products (curds, cheese curds, candy bars), confectionery, chocolate products, mayonnaise, spreads, margarine, ghee, baked goods.
- In Russia, bills on increasing the duty on the import of technical palm oil or even a ban on it have long been considered. In extreme cases, to force manufacturers to indicate palm oil in the formulations of the product everywhere. But while in this case, the laws have not moved one iota.
- It has already been proven that technical palm oil can cause oncology of various organs in humans and heart disease.
- Replacing the ingredients in the product, which are rich in calcium and other beneficial substances, we thereby deprive your body of beneficial micro-and macronutrients.
- Hundreds of tons of technical palm oil are imported into Russia. It is not known how and where this product was stored. Revealed counterfeit checks found non-food chemicals in the oil (the cleaning method is unknown) and heavy metals.
- To date, due to the high demand for oil, tropical forests are being exterminated along with animals for planting oil palm trees.
- Palm oil producers themselves say that it is more profitable to have an oil palm plantation than an oil well.
Palm oil is a very useful product if it is raw oil made from oil palm fruit. This oil is extremely difficult to find and purchase. The product is stored for a short time and is eaten immediately after cooking in countries where palm plantations are growing.
Refined, refined and deodorized palm oil does not contain any beneficial substances. It can only be used to create cosmetic products.
But the worst of all is technical cheap palm oil with a peroxide index factor of 10. It is prohibited in many countries in the food industry. Except Russia.
Draw your own conclusions, dear readers, to buy or not to buy products containing palm oil in their composition.
We in our family have long abandoned pastry, mayonnaise, margarine. Bake yourself. And we buy farm products. Although they are more expensive, there is more benefit.
With the permission of the editor of the site zdravkom.ru, I post my interview about palm oil. While I was answering the questions, my attitude towards this product changed.
Judging by the publications in the press, palm oil is among the most harmful products - and clogs the vessels, and causes cancer, and is not digested. Its use causes de health such damage that inevitably doubts arise: “If palm oil is so dangerous, why is it not prohibited?” In order to dispel them, Zdravkom addressed the well-known dietician Evgenia Kobylyatskaya.
text: Tatyana Yurasova.
For a long time in Russia, palm oil was known mainly in the narrow circles of the food industry and lovers of exotic cuisine. The general public learned of its existence at the end of 2011, when the results of monitoring the quality of dairy products were made public. People were surprised to find that half of the milk sold in the country (butter, cheese, condensed milk, sour cream and cottage cheese) is made from palm oil and other vegetable fats. The law does not prohibit their use in the manufacture of food, but obliges manufacturers to call such products differently - spread, condensed milk, “cream product”, “cottage cheese product”, “cheese product”, and also indicate the “palm tree” in the composition on the label. As it turned out, in violation of the law, manufacturers conceal the real composition of the product, presenting it as 100% milk. In legal terms, they mislead consumers.
Sometimes it comes to the fact that in some dairy products (for example, in the “Adygei cheese” produced by Imperial LLC) there are no milk fats at all. Instead, "vegetable oils of tropical origin." Manufacturers' interest in palm oil began to grow rapidly after the crisis of 1998, when imported products became too expensive for many. Not everyone could afford and high-quality domestic products, for example, real butter. The reason for this lies in the high cost of milk fat, which is its main component. So, to get only one kilogram of good butter with a fat content of 82.5%, 24 liters of raw milk are required! Therefore, it cannot be cheap by definition, and in order to make it cheaper, manufacturers began to add an inexpensive palm tree.
The technologist of one oil and fat combine told Zdravkom that without milk and cream, but only from one top-grade palm oil and high-quality food additives, you can make a product that cannot be distinguished from real butter.
With the adoption in 2008 of a new technical regulation for milk and dairy products, manufacturers did not refuse to replace dairy fat with palm oil. It was too profitable, although it was already qualified as “falsification of food”. To combat food fraudsters, the Soyuzmoloko Association began to selectively purchase dairy products for laboratory research on the subject of quality. And often among the violators were members of the association itself! However, the critics did not come under fire, but harmful palm oil. Although it was transported from time immemorial to Europe from Babylon, along with gold from Arabia, steel from Scythia, silk from China and other valuable goods, now suddenly it turned out that palm oil is unhealthy .
Representatives of the dairy industry, Rospotrebnadzor and individual nutritionists told the bewildered public that it is not digested, but solidifies with a sticky mass in the stomach, and then accumulates on the walls of blood vessels. And among other things, it is a carcinogen. Чтобы выяснить всю подноготную «пальмы», мы обратились к независимому эксперту - лицензированному диетологу (США) Евгении Кобыляцкой, автору книг «Как пережить изобилие, или Вся правда о похудении» (СПб: "Вектор", 2013) и «Главная заповедь едока, или контроль веса для «подкованных» (СПб: "Вектор", 2014). Именно интервью Евгении о молоке и молочных продуктах спровоцировало у читателей интерес к пальмовому маслу
.- I am pleased with the question of palm oil - it shows that people are increasingly paying attention to the composition of the ingredients on the packaging of products, and think about “What is this? Harm or Benefit?
- Eugene, palm oil - harmful or useful? Can it be compared with other oils?
- One tablespoon of palm oil contains 14 grams. fat - like all vegetable fats. This amount of fat gives us 120 calories. However, the composition of vegetable fats differ among themselves. As for palm oil, of these 14 grams of fat,
8gr. - these are saturated fats, just those that should be limited in nutrition, because they increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases,
4 gr. - monounsaturated - super useful, reducing this risk and
2 gr. - polyunsaturated, say, neutral.
Now comparable with butter. One tablespoon of butter (without top) contains 100 calories and only 11 grams. fat (it has some water), of which
7 gr. saturated fat
3 gr. - monounsaturated fats, and
1 gr. - polyunsaturated.
As you can see, palm oil is close in composition to cream, and even slightly more beneficial, due to the presence of unsaturated fats (MUN and PUFA). But, of course, it does not bear comparison with olive oil. One tablespoon of olive oil contains 14 grams. fat from which
10 gr. - These are super useful monounsaturated fatty acids that prevent cardiovascular diseases.
- They say our stomach is not able to digest palm oil, and it accumulates on the walls of blood vessels. What is true and what is not?—
The stomach digests everything perfectly. And the main danger to the blood vessels are trans fats, their main supplier - margarines and cheap margarine mixtures for roasting. Margarines are obtained by hydrogenation of vegetable oil: air is “driven in” into it and the liquid mass turns into a bar. As a result of hydrogenation, hydrogen molecules are incorporated by chemical reaction into fat molecules, and the latter lose their original structure, acquiring a new, previously unprecedented or extremely rare in nature (trans fat). Enzymes in the body do not recognize a stranger, and the liver reacts to trans fat just as it does to stress - it produces more cholesterol, which accumulates on the walls of blood vessels.
Margarines are extremely convenient for the food industry - they are cheap, hydrogenation prolongs the shelf life, while liquid vegetable oils quickly become rancid. Margarine dough is tender and crumbly. Palm oil is added to products, both in natural form and in hydrogenated form. In hydrogenated - it is certainly more harmful. But this applies to any hydrogenated fat.
—It is obtained, hydrogenated, processed palm oil is dangerous for vascular health, but natural is not?
- Vessel health depends on many factors, in particular on the total amount and quality of fats in your menu. According to the recommendations of the American Association of Cardiologists, 25-35% of the daily menu calories should come mainly from healthy fats: olive oil, avocado, fish, nuts and seeds. Of these, only 7% of calories are from saturated.
If you take for example 2000 calories per day, then 7% is 140 calories from saturated fat per day (butter, cheese, sour cream, meat), 140 calories are 16 grams. saturated fat
• 1 teaspoon of butter (without top) contains 5 grams of fat, of which - 4 grams. saturated,
• 1 tbsp. Spoon 20% sour cream (without top) contains 3 gr. fat, of which - 2 grams. saturated,
• Boiled chicken leg with skin - contains 16 grams. fat, of which - 5 grams. saturated.
- If you fry this leg in butter, then the amount of total fat, and in particular, saturated, will increase.
• 1 thin sausage contains 13 gr. fat, of which 6 grams. saturated.
In all boiled sausages, fat is twisted into mincemeat, it is not visible, but it is there.
• 100 gr. hard cheese contains an average of 30 grams. fat, of which -16 gr. saturated.
So, check on the kitchen scale how many grams of butter and cheese are in your morning sandwich, and determine how many of them are saturated. (The composition of the products can be found online). And, yes, keep a close look at the ingredients on the packaging of the finished product.
If you follow the recommendations of health services, that is, fill a fresh salad with olive oil, often eat baked fish for lunch, snack on walnuts and almonds, rather than candies, and keep track of the amount and fat content of dairy products in your menu, then one cookie for tea, which contains palm oil, will not cause you much harm. Another thing, if you eat this cookie in packs, and the percentage of fat in your menu regularly exceeds the norm and its sources are “unhealthy” fats: fatty meat, smoked sausages, donuts in deep fat (during frying in boiling oil trans fats are formed), salami, ham, muffins, cakes, ice cream - that's when your blood vessels are in danger.
- In Russia, dairy producers often do not indicate on the labels that palm oil is included. Some believe that buyers will definitely choose 100% dairy. And in Finland they specifically add “palm tree” to dairy products. In your opinion, which ones are more useful, with or without the addition of palm oil?
“I suspect that palm oil is the lesser evil that can be found in the list of ingredients on packages of processed products: curd, processed cheese, spreads and dairy desserts.” Processed dairy and other products may also contain a lot of sugar, salt, preservatives, dyes, stabilizers, artificial flavors and flavor enhancers. Of course, choose natural, without additives.
- So, palm oil should be refilled salads, but it is better not to use the products, which include it, because we risk running into hydrogenated oil?
Naturally, natural palm oil is much healthier than hydrogenated oil. But salads should be refilled with olive oil, it is an ancient, time-tested product. And the use of any processed products should be minimized: the less the product was made, the better for you. Eat predominantly natural products: lean meat and poultry, fish, kefir, cottage cheese, vegetables, greens, fruits, berries, legumes, nuts and seeds, and you will never try to eat trans fats.
- Palm oil is also said to be the strongest carcinogen, and that developed countries have long refused to import it for food use. Is this true?
- No, I have not found evidence of carcinogenicity. High fat intake generally increases the risk of cancer. Many countries have really refused to import palm oil, but for a different reason.
When the health services of many countries recognized that trans fats are unsafe for health, the food industry began to look for a worthy substitute for margarines. Palm oil is quite suitable for this purpose: it is much cheaper than butter, long stays fresh, and when added to products gives a pleasant creamy consistency. In addition, its presence in the product attracts vegetarians and those who try to consume more plant food and less animal food, without abandoning it altogether.
- But despite all these advantages, something stops them? What?
- 85% of oil palms grow in Indonesia, Malaysia and New Guinea. In recent years, palm oil production has increased many times, and the demand for a cheap and convenient product increases every year. In addition to food, it is part of lotions, creams, shampoos and lipsticks. To smash up new and new oil palm plantations, tropical forests are cut down, and their inhabitants - rhinos, elephants, tigers, leopards and orangutans - are shot. This situation is worrying global organizations for protecting animals and preserving the natural wealth of the planet (deforestation of tropical forests adversely affects the climate). Protesting the expansion of the oil palm plantations, many campaigns use a photograph of an orangutan cub that lost its mother. It resembles a human cub, and in all normal people causes compassion. An orphaned child, frightened and driven out of his usual habitat, is too much of a price for a creamy milky dessert in your supermarket.
- What do you personally do when you see palm oil in the product - buy or look for the same, but without it?
- Recently, I would say that it is unlikely that a dairy product with palm oil will attract my attention. Natural dairy products that I buy (cheese, yogurt and kefir) do not contain any additives, including palm oil. I also prefer desserts natural: from nuts, honey and dried fruits, for example. As for baking, I, first of all, will pay attention to other components: the type of flour, the amount of sugar and the absence of hydrogenated fats. However, after I saw a photo of an orangutan baby, whose mother had just been shot, I would never buy a product with palm oil for anything.
Evgenia Kobylyatskaya - a licensed nutritionist (USA), a specialist in the normalization of weight in children, adolescents and adults, the treatment of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, as well as preventive nutrition. Learn more about books and articles by Evgenia Kobylyatskaya on the VseProVes website.