If we want to be healthier and reduce our risk for chronic diseases, the U.S. government advises that we keep closer tabs on our fat intake. According to the new 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans1, released jointly by the United States Department of Agriculture, and Health and Human Services, we should get less than 10 percent of our daily calories from saturated fatty acids. As we consume more saturated fatty acids than what is recommended, ideally we should decrease these and replace them with monosaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Huh? What does that mean in plain English? And is it true that you (and the food industry) have ready access to a secret weapon – Malaysian palm fruit oil – that might make following the ‘10 percent’ guideline a whole lot easier, not to mention delicious?
Here’s the dilemma facing food manufacturers and home cooks: When you remove the saturated fats or trans fats from food, it’s got to be replaced with something else. When a recipe calls for solid fat, for example, what are the alternatives to butter? Here’s where Malaysian Palm Fruit Oil comes to the rescue.
Numerous studies have confirmed the nutritional value of palm fruit oil make it as healthful as olive oil, but it does some things that olive oil can’t. For example, palm fruit oil is very stable and, unlike olive oil, it is great for high heat cooking. It can easily be substituted for solid saturated fats such as butter, margarine or shortening, and is delicious when used for cooking and baking. Palm fruit oil can also be blended with a small amount of butter if you want the buttery flavor when cooking at higher temperatures or baking.
Dr. Pramod Khosla, associate professor, Department of Nutrition and Food Science, Wayne State University, explains why palm fruit oil is popping up not just on food nutrition labels but also in prestigious medical journals and other scientific publications. “Palm fruit oil is unique in that it contains almost equal amounts of unsaturated fats and saturated fats, (mainly palmitic and smaller amounts of stearic acids). As a result of its balanced composition, palm fruit oil has almost no impact on your cholesterol as long as your total dietary fat and saturated fat intake is in line with the levels recommended by health agencies such as the American Heart Association.”
Basically it behaves more like a healthier monounsaturated fat than a saturated fat. “The virgin and red varieties of palm oil are also rich in powerful antioxidants called tocotrienol and tocopherols (vitamin E), as well as carotenes (vitamin A),” adds Dr. Khosla, who has studied palm fruit oil’s nutritional qualities for many years.
Foods made with palm fruit oil, which is naturally trans fat-free (a claim also shared with olive oil), have a long shelf life and other desirable properties including great texture and flavor. Palm fruit oil also is very affordable and readily available. Palm oil is now the largest traded edible oil and accounts for about one quarter of the world’s fats and oil supply.
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.