Palm oil is the world’s most popular edible oil. This versatile tropical oil is found in many products ranging from premium cookies and bars to better-for-you spreads and convenience foods. But what’s exciting is Malaysian palm oil’s positive effect on our health and the environment. This non-GMO oil – American food manufacturers’ preferred choice for replacing harmful partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) – is also the world’s first sustainable edible oil.
Malaysian palm oil: the natural, wholesome alternative to PHOs
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that PHOs, the primary source of trans fats, must be phased out of the U.S. food supply by 2018. Favored for decades by food manufacturers for their ability to extend shelf life and deliver a creamy texture, PHOs are no longer “Generally Recognized As Safe”, or GRAS, for human consumption because they have been shown to increase heart disease risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reducing trans fat consumption in this county could prevent up to 20,000 heart attacks each year.
Palm oil has proven to be the preferred replacement because it delivers many of the sought-after properties of PHOs without the need for hydrogenation. This naturally trans fat-free oil is also rich in vitamin E tocotrienols, up-and-coming nutrients linked to improved brain, heart and eye health. Finally, palm oil is produced without genetic engineering unlike most other commonly used edible oils, such as corn, canola and soybean.
Malaysian palm oil: The eco-friendly choice
Environmentalists, as well as Malaysian palm oil producers – the tropical country that produces most of the United States’ palm oil – are sharing the good news about palm oil’s efficiency and eco-friendliness.
Of all the major oil crops, Malaysian oil palm plantations occupy the least land, but produce the most oil. A single acre of oil palm produces 11 times more oil than soybeans, and 10 times more than sunflower. Palm oil producers have also teamed up with nonprofit organizations to ensure that wildlife such as orangutans, elephants and sun bears can reside peacefully in and near oil palm plantations. This article reports how these groups are working together on conservation issues. In another article, an expert from the Union of Concerned Scientists, acknowledges that, in the fight against deforestation, beef and soybeans are the commodities that deserve our attention.
Malaysian palm oil producers, known for decades for their environmental responsibility, have recently reaffirmed their sustainability commitment with the introduction of the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification program. This program further demonstrates the country’s pledge to produce only high-quality and eco-conscious palm oil.
Kris Best is a science and environmental analyst with a background in biology and sustainable living. She enjoys digging into technical information and making it easier to understand for readers. She has a special interest in creating content which helps families live a more natural lifestyle.