A Wall Street Journal feature article gave readers good insights into red palm oil’s health benefits. Reporter Laura Johannes explained that this colorful oil is rich in vitamin E tocotrienols and carotenoids, which the body converts to vitamin A. While acknowledging that some palm oil production is controversial, her article concluded by quoting an industry insider who confirmed that all red palm oil from Malaysia is produced using sustainable methods and employing legal workers.
Malaysian red palm oil is produced from the flesh of the fruit which grows on the country’s stately oil palm trees. Oil pressed from the fruit is deep orange in color. Red palm oil is refined at lower temperatures, or sometimes not heated at all. This gentler process allows the oil to retain its color, as well as its nutrients.
In this Wall Street Journal article, Johannes also pointed out that versatile red palm oil is prized for its healthfulness. “About 40 percent of red palm oil is oleic acid, an unsaturated fat present in higher quantities in olive oil and believed to be part of the reason for its heart benefits,” she stated. She did a good job differentiating red palm oil from palm kernel oil, which is made from the seed of the fruit. Palm kernel oil is significantly higher in saturated fat than oil derived from fruit’s flesh.
A tablespoon of red palm oil contains 240 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A and 25 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin E. “According to a 2010 review published in the Journal of American College of Nutrition, scientists in developing countries have found Carotino and other red palm oils to be an effective method of treating vitamin A deficiency, which can lead to blindness,” Johannes wrote. The vitamin E tocotrienols in red palm oil have been studied for their role in protecting brains from stroke damage.
While some palm oil production facilities have been accused of deforestation and forced labor issues, Johannes quoted Johari Minal, Washington D.C., regional manager of the Malaysian Palm Oil Board, who confirmed that all red palm oil from Malaysia is sustainably produced using legal workers.
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.