What defines a “super food”? Nutritionists and health professionals get particularly excited about plant-based foods that confer a wide range of potential health benefits. Malaysian red palm oil clearly falls into this category, so we decided to compile our own “top 10” list of its health and wellness benefits. Malaysian red palm oil is available as a cooking oil, is used as an ingredient in many finished products, and its nutrients are also available in supplement form.
1. Malaysian red palm fruit oil has more carotene than tomatoes or carrots. It is a rich source of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that helps strengthen the body’s immune system, and is associated with a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease and cataracts.
2. Malaysian red palm oil has more vitamin E than any other vegetable oil. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant capable of reducing the harmful free radicals in the body. It helps to support overall health while delaying the aging process. By the way, canola oil also claims to be high in Vitamin E, but it only contains tocopherols which are the most common form of Vitamin E also found in most multi-vitamins. Tocotrienols are significantly harder to come by, and palm oil is their richest source.
3. Malaysian red palm oil is a solid fat, so does not have to undergo unhealthy hydrogenation. Hydrogenation of oils produces trans fatty acids, which have been implicated in numerous diseases including breast cancer, colon cancer and heart disease. Trans fats are also believed to impair development in newborns.
4. Vitamin E tocotrienols derived from Malaysian red palm oil have been shown to reduce neurological damage due to stroke. They may also enhance the speed of stroke recovery.
5. The vitamin E tocotrienols in Malaysian red palm oil support the brain’s white matter health. A two-year human clinical study demonstrated that tocotrienols weaken the progression of white matter lesions, which may reduce stroke risk.
6. Malaysian red palm oil’s vitamin E tocotrienols may slow your body’s ability to create new fat cells and kill off some of the fat cells you already have. They may be a new tool in resolving America’s obesity epidemic.
7. Malaysian red palm oil’s vitamin E tocotrienols appear to protect the livers of adults diagnosed with high cholesterol and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). NAFLD is one of the most common liver disorders, possibly triggered by obesity, insulin resistance, lipid peroxidation and oxidative stress.
8. Malaysian red palm oil has a neutral effect on cholesterol. Its effects on blood cholesterol levels are similar to olive oil, and better than common cooking oil blends.
9. The carotenes in Malaysian red palm oil may help protect your skin against UV damage. It’s like sunscreen from the inside out.
10. Malaysian red palm oil’s vitamin E tocotrienols may inhibit breast cancer cells. Early research indicates that this may be irrespective of estrogen receptor status.
Is Malaysian red palm oil a super food? We think so.
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.