Sustainable Malaysian palm oil is abundantly rich in molecules called polyphenols. That’s a term often associated with plant-based nutrition, but what exactly does it mean? Polyphenols are natural, plant-based chemicals that are known to have multiple health benefits.

For example, the polyphenols found in sustainable Malaysian palm oil are natural antioxidants*. As noted in a recent Journal of Oil Palm, Environment and Health blog, there is emerging scientific evidence that polyphenols are a “natural, safe and cost-effective means of delivering health benefits to consumers.” You may be aware that grapes, tea and even chocolate have high polyphenol levels. So does palm oil.

Palm oil polyphenols include carotenes and vitamin E tocotrienol, both of which have been extensively studied for their benefits on everything from brain, heart and skin health to their potential in the fight against cancer. The blog mentions that oil palm phenolics have been studied for their potential ability to reduce blood pressure by increasing nitric oxide levels in the circulatory system, with very encouraging preliminary results.

*What are free radicals?

What does rust have to do with your health? More than you might think. When iron is exposed to air, oxygen triggers a chemical reaction called oxidation. During oxidation, renegade oxygen molecules called free radicals chip away at the composition of the iron. In our bodies, similar free radicals form as byproducts from the “burning” of food for energy and the breakdown of toxic substances, such as cigarette smoke and other pollutants.

Free radicals are also called “oxidants” because they oxidize, or damage, the body’s cells. Over time, increasing numbers of free radicals oxidize various cell parts, including membranes, proteins and DNA. The damage to DNA is particularly serious because it alters our genetic code, making it less efficient, accelerating the aging process and increasing our risk for degenerative diseases.

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Antioxidants, such as those found in sustainable Malaysian palm oil, help to neutralize free radicals.

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