This post was originally published on March 4, 2020 and updated on February 10, 2021.
If it seems like your supermarket’s cooking oil aisle has more choices than ever before, you’re probably right. In addition to multiple varieties of corn, canola, olive and soybean oil, you’ll likely find cooking oil blends some of which may include palm oil. More formulators are including this healthy oil because it offers unmatched nutrition and ease of use.
Explains Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) CEO Datuk Dr. Kalyana Sundram, “Blending of different oils is in reality a well-accepted and documented practice. In many ways blending different oils helps improve functionality and nutritional efficacy, depending on the components in the blend.”
Palm oil contains vital nutrients
In some parts of the world, blended oils contain red palm oil, a vibrantly colored oil revered for its high carotenoid content. In the body, carotenoids are converted to vitamin A which supports eye and immune health. Palm oil has other nutrients, too. “It is also uniquely endowed by a high content of vitamin E tocotrienols that is creating significant interest among researchers and consumers for its health benefits,” Sundram elaborates. Vitamin E tocotrienols are potent antioxidants that support skin and brain health. “I know there are plenty of ‘health blogs’ especially from Western countries that say palm oil is bad for health but they are actually putting foot into mouth, so to speak, when their next blog talks up the importance of vitamins A and E to human health and display encapsulated supplements of these vitamins to make revenue for their blogs,” he added.
Palm oil is a smart part of a heart-healthy diet
Palm oil may be included in oil blends and spreads that are specially formulated for heart health, such as the Smart Balance line. Palm oil is naturally free of trans fatty acids, which are known to increase cardiovascular disease risk. Studies have also shown that palm oil doesn’t affect serum cholesterol levels.
In fact, a long-term Malaysian study showed that fats aren’t the problem at all when it comes to heart-healthy diets. It is carb-heavy diets that can lead to inflammations and insulin resistance, conditions that often contribute to heart disease.
Oil blends containing palm oil are versatile for cooking and frying
Palm oil may also be included in a cooking oil blend because, unlike other oils, it doesn’t break down or lose its nutritional value at high temperatures. Palm oil’s smoke point, the temperature at which it starts to burn and smoke, is in excess of 450 degrees Fahrenheit. This is much higher than other common cooking oils. Olive oil begins to degrade at 380 degrees Fahrenheit, canola at 400 degrees and coconut oil at 347 degrees Fahrenheit. Adding palm oil to an oil blend makes the blend more versatile for cooking and frying.
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