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Why palm fruit oil is used in so many foods

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Here’s the dilemma facing food manufacturers and home cooks: When you remove the saturated animal fats and unhealthy trans fats from food, it’s got to be replaced with something else. When a recipe calls for solid fat such as butter, for example, what are the alternatives? Here’s where Malaysian Palm Fruit Oil comes to the rescue.

Don’t confuse palm fruit oil with the much maligned palm kernel oil that was once widely used in movie popcorn. Cultivated in Malaysia, natural palm fruit oil comes from the plant’s fruit (the fleshy part) and contains numerous micronutrients. Numerous studies have confirmed the nutritional value of palm fruit oil make it as healthful as olive oil.

In contrast, palm kernel oil comes from the plant’s kernel (seed). It contains about 85 percent saturated fats which can raise your cholesterol levels. So it’s best to think carefully before consuming it as a major part of your dietary fat intake.

Almost 90 percent of the world’s palm fruit oil is used as food. In fact, palm fruit oil is the second largest edible oil consumed, accounting for almost one quarter of the world’s fats and oil supply. Foods made with palm fruit oil, which is naturally trans fat-free (a claim also shared with olive oil), have a long shelf life and other desirable properties including great texture and flavor. Palm fruit oil also is very affordable.

Numerous studies have confirmed the nutritional value of palm fruit oil make it as healthful as olive oil, but it does some things that olive oil can’t. For example, palm fruit oil is very stable and, unlike olive oil, it is great for high heat cooking. It can easily be substituted for solid saturated fats such as butter, margarine or shortening, and is delicious when used for cooking and baking. Palm fruit oil can also be blended with a small amount of butter if you want the buttery flavor when cooking at higher temperatures or baking.

Why is palm fruit oil is popping up not just on food nutrition labels but also in prestigious medical journals and other scientific publications? Palm fruit oil is unique in that it contains almost equal amounts of unsaturated fats and saturated fats, (mainly palmitic and smaller amounts of stearic acids). As a result of its balanced composition, palm fruit oil has almost no impact on your cholesterol as long as your total dietary fat and saturated fat intake is in line with the levels recommended by health agencies such as the American Heart Association.

Basically it behaves more like a healthier monounsaturated fat than a saturated fat. The virgin and red varieties of palm oil are also rich in powerful antioxidants called tocotrienol and tocopherols (vitamin E), as well as carotenes (vitamin A).

 


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About Robin Miller

Robin Miller is a health and nutrition editor with more than 30 years of industry experience. She researches and writes about the nutritional benefits of palm fruit oil, with the goal of giving readers factual, science-based information that will be useful in their daily lives.

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