You’ve probably heard that trans fats are bad for your heart but can you remember why? Trans fats – which show up as partially hydrogenated vegetable oil on food labels – can lower your HDL (good) cholesterol while raising your LDL (bad) cholesterol. As food manufacturers, restaurants and others work to reduce the amount of trans fats in our diets, here are two ways that Malaysian palm fruit oil – which is trans fat-free – is helping.
1. Malaysian palm fruit oil is used as a replacement for partially hydrogenated vegetable oil to make trans fat-free products. Palm oil is unique because it is about 50 percent saturated fat and 50 percent unsaturated fat. It can be separated into a solid form called palm stearin, and a liquid form called palm olein. Palm stearin can be used to create more solid fats, such as margarines, without needing hydrogenation.
2. Malaysian palm fruit oil can be used in place of hydrogenated vegetable oils for frying. Fats must be able to withstand high frying temperatures without breaking down, oxidizing or undergoing other adverse chemical changes.* Many Americans have used hydrogenated vegetable oils for frying. But there is a concern about their trans fat content. Palm fruit oil can safely be used for frying. It doesn’t have to be hydrogenated, and it won’t break down into potentially dangerous chemicals.
Not only is palm fruit oil helping Americans to lower the amount of trans fats in their diets, there is evidence that palm fruit oil has similar effects as olive oil on total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol.
*Oils high in unsaturated fatty acids such as olive oil, peanut oil, corn oil and other vegetable oils, as well as those that contain large amounts of linoleic and linolenic acid such as safflower oil, tend to oxidize and break down when used for frying. Palm oil contains a moderate level of linoleic acid and negligible amounts of linolenic acid.
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.