This post was originally published on February 27, 2017 and updated on January 14, 2020.

Palm oil is the most widely consumed vegetable oil on the planet! About 2.3 billion people around the world currently depend on palm oil as an important part of their food supply. But here in the U.S., most of us are just learning to appreciate palm oil for its health, culinary and environmental benefits.

In fact, we bet you didn’t know:

  1. Palm oil is in about half of our packaged foods. This includes products made by such well-known companies as Kellogg’s, Nestle and Proctor & Gamble.
  2. Palm oil is the world’s first certified sustainable vegetable oil. Current palm oil industry certifications are: Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO); Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO); Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO); and Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO).
  3. Palm oil is produced by simple steaming and pressing.  That’s similar to how olive oil is produced.
  4. Palm oil is naturally trans-fat free. That’s why it’s being used by the food industry as a replacement for unhealthy trans fats. It’s also non-GMO.
  5. Palm oil is healthy. It is the richest source of vitamin E tocotrienols, which support brain and heart health. Red palm oil also has more carotenes (pro-Vitamin A) than carrots.
  6. Palm oil may even help you lose weight. Healthy fats improve your satiety so you might end up consuming fewer calories.
  7. Palm oil is flavor-neutral and has a buttery texture. It’s a versatile substitute for other vegetable oils. It can be used in most recipes including baked goods. It stands up to high heat without breaking down, which makes it an excellent choice for BBQ marinades, stir fry and fried foods.

But what about the rainforests?
Some Americans worry that the palm oil industry is destroying the rainforests and precious animal habitats. We bet you didn’t know:

  • Approximately 80 percent of the palm oil in the U.S. is grown and produced in Malaysia. Malaysian palm oil is certified sustainable.  
  • Malaysia is committed to saving its rainforests. At the 1988 Earth Summit, Malaysia committed to preserving more than half of its rainforests. It’s preserved even more than that. There are also stringent policies covering wildlife protection and rehabilitation.
  • As we consume more palm oil, there is less stress on our natural resources than if we increased our use of other edible seed oils. The oil palm is the most efficient oil-bearing crop in the world.
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