SupplySide West 2019, the largest gathering of more than 18,500 health and nutrition professionals, provided the perfect forum for functional medicine expert Bryce Wylde to present a check-the-facts report about palm oil. Wylde, who traveled throughout Malaysia to discover the truths about palm oil production, was asked by ExcelVite to give his professional assessments. 

“What we generally accept as facts may not always be correct,” Wylde told the gathering. “The first car was invented by Karl Benz, not Henry Ford. Twinkies stay fresh for 25 days, not indefinitely.”  

He then took a deep dive into palm oil misconceptions and facts, explaining why he believes so many food myths are perpetuated. “People are fed by the food industry, which pays almost no attention to health and treated by the health industry which pays almost no attention to food.” 

He cautioned attendees to be wary of correlations that are reported as causation. His example: Between 2000 and 2009, the rate of decline in per capita margarine consumption in the U.S. was nearly the same as the declining divorce rate in Maine. Did eating less margarine cause fewer divorces during those nine years? 

 

Setting the record straight 

Wylde then reviewed many misconceptions about palm oil and revealed relevant facts. These included: 

  • Misconception: Saturated fat is bad; 

         Fact: Saturated fat in diets are CVD neutral 

  • Misconception: Palm oil is new; 

         Fact: Palm oil has been used for 5,000 years

  • Misconception: Palm oil is not widely used; 

         Fact: Palm oil is the most produced edible oil globally

  • Misconception: Palm oil is difficult to incorporate into the diet; 

         Fact: Palm oil has a very high smoke point at about 425 degrees F

  • Misconception: Palm oil has no major nutrient advantage; 

         Fact: Red palm oil has 15 times more pro vitamin A carotenes than carrots and 30 times more than tomatoes 

  • Misconception: Palm oil production is unstable; 

        Fact: Palm oil is the highest yielding edible oil-bearing crop in the world. It has a higher yield than such common oils as soy and canola while requiring significantly less fertilizer, pesticides and energy to produce. 

  • Misconception: Palm oil is a major cause of deforestation; 

         Fact: There is minimal deforestation compared with other oil crops. Palm oil is the world’s first sustainable vegetable oil, now with MSPO and RSPO certifications 

  • Misconception: Palm oil creates tremendous biomass waste; 

         Fact: The Malaysian palm oil industry strives toward zero waste by using biomass as renewable energy 

  • Misconception: Palm oil production has a negative impact on wildlife; 

         Fact: The Malaysian palm oil industry created the Malaysian Palm Oil Wildlife Conservation Fund to ensure industry support and commitment to wildlife welfare

  • Misconception: Malaysia has the same palm oil production practices as Indonesia and Africa;

         Fact: In Malaysia, oil palm plantations are a net carbon sink with more than 700M oil palms planted 

 

SEE ALSO  Is palm oil similar to coconut oil?

Palm oil in clinical practice 

As a healthcare practitioner, Wylde is impressed by palm oil’s nutritional benefits. Palm oil naturally has the highest concentration of vitamin E tocotrienols, which have 40 to 60 times more antioxidant activity than vitamin E tocopherols. Wylde explained that most vitamin E studies have used tocopherols. “It’s an unfair assumption that other members of the vitamin E family would result in the same outcomes,” he said.

He added that tocotrienols have been shown to support healthy cholesterol levels and blood vessel elasticity, as well as brain and liver health. They’ve even been shown to support improved hair volume

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