Red palm oil has received a lot of interest in the recent years- in a manner similar to that of the coconut oil. A lot of attention has been drawn because of its potential effects on the human health.
Palm oil has been in use for a long time, particularly in some parts of the world. However, it has now earned a widespread fame because of its great health benefits. It has been known to treat a lot of conditions, such as hypercholesterolemia, oxidative stress, and decreased brain health.
However, not all types of palm oil possess equal health benefits. In order to get the highest quality of palm oil, you might have to make some savvy shopping choices.
So, what is red palm oil and is it really healthy? Does its side effects outweigh the potential side effects? Keep reading to find out
What is Red Palm Oil?
The definition of palm oil encompasses any oil that is derived from the oil palm fruit. Elaeis guineensis is a scientific species which grows in Southwest Africa and is considered as a basic source of palm oil.
The trees can be up to 20 meters tall and bear 20 to almost 30 leaves on an annual basis. They also produce palm fruit which is then used to extract palm oil. Palm oil is generated from the pulp and the kernel of the fruit. According to an estimate, 23 kilograms of this oil is produced by every 100 kilograms of palm fruit.
Palm oil has been extensively used in different areas of the world, mainly because of its high yield. Indonesia and Malaysia and referred to as the largest manufacturers of this oil, accounting for almost 80 percent of it.
Additionally, palm oil has a high heat stability and smoke point due to which it is a good choice for cooking. It is also a part of different processed foods such as cereals and protein bars.
Unrefined palm oil consists of a reddish hue and is, therefore, referred to as the red palm oil. This particular type of palm oil has high amounts of antioxidants and carotenoids. Including one tablespoon of palm oil in your daily diet has also been found to produce a number of health benefits.
What are the Benefits of Red Palm Oil?
Red palm oil has proven to positively affect health in different ways.
- Reduction of Blood Cholesterol
High cholesterol is considered as an important risk factor for heart disease. Too much of this substance can accumulate in your vessels, leading to their narrowing and hardening.
Some scientific studies have found that red palm oil can decrease the bad LDL cholesterol in your blood and improve the heart health.
One particular study published in the Journal of Nutrition measured the effects of palm oil on the body cholesterol levels. The researchers concluded that the oil decreased LDL cholesterol by 13.1 percent and the triglyceride amount by 6.7 percent.
Another study has regarded palm oil to possess similar effects on the blood cholesterol as that of the extra virgin olive oil. It was able to reduce the LDL cholesterol and triglycerides to a significant extent.
- Reduced Progression of Heart Disease
In addition to lowering the blood cholesterol, one study has shown that it can also treat people suffering from different heart diseases.
- Boosts Brain Health
Palm oil primarily consists of tocotrienols, a kind of vitamin E that has different antioxidant properties. This can greatly support the brain functioning as well. A research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease concluded that tocotrienols can significantly enhance the cognitive function in mice. Another study found that it can stop the growth of brain lesions in humans.
- Enhances Vitamin A Levels
Red palm oil is a rich source of beta-carotene, a form of carotenoid which gets converted into vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is of great significance to humans as it can strengthen the immune system and improve vision. Its deficiency can lead to different diseases and even blindness.
A study conducted by the National Institute of Nutrition showed that the use of red palm oil by pregnant women increased their vitamin A levels for both the mother and the unborn babies.
- Reduces Oxidative Stress
Free radicals are reactive compounds that are generated due to different factors such as a poor diet, stress, or exposure to pollutants. Their buildup in the body can increase the oxidative stress and cause cell damage.
Antioxidants are the substances that fight these free radicals and prevent the cells from being damaged. These beneficial antioxidants can be provided by red palm oil.
A study carried out in Malaysia in 2013 checked the antioxidant activity possessed by the extract taken from palm leaves. This extract caused improvements in fibrosis and kidney dysfunction in mice. Additionally, it was also found to decrease inflammation and oxidative stress.
- Improves Hair and Skin Health
A study published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences indicated that vitamin E, a constituent of red palm oil can improve the condition of atopic dermatitis in humans. Vitamin E is also proven useful in the treatment of pressure ulcers, wounds, and psoriasis.
Red palm oil has also been indicated as a great herbal remedy for hair health. A study has demonstrated that tocotrienol found in palm oil can increase the number of hairs in humans by a factor of 34.5 percent.
Red Palm Oil Harms and Concerns
Red palm oil definitely has to offer a lot regarding the human health. However, there are certain side effects as well as some ethical concerns that need to be considered and addressed.
First of all, red palm oil may affect different people in a different manner. Despite the fact that a lot of studies prove its efficacy to lower the cholesterol in the blood, some of them have generated conflicting results. These studies have instead found that palm oil can actually increase the blood cholesterol in some people.
Additionally, most of the palm oil available in the market today is processed and passed through several steps of oxidation for various culinary purposes. These procedures deprive the palm oil of its health-promoting activities and can negatively affect the health.
Some concerns regarding the negative effects of palm oil production on the environment have also come forward. Some of these concerns include the palm trees deforestation due to an increased demand for this oil.
This has eventually led to harmful consequences, such as a habitat loss and an increase in the greenhouse gas emissions.
Should You Use Palm Oil?
Red palm oil possesses a unique flavor. Together with a high smoke point, it is considered as a suitable oil for cooking a variety of dishes. It also has a long list of health benefits.
But because of all the ethical and environmental concerns regarding the production of palm oil, is it wise to use it in your everyday cooking?
By making yourself a well-informed consumer and taking wise decisions about the right brands to buy, you can make that you are getting maximal benefits from the red palm oil without causing any trouble