Healthy Oil Series (Part 3) Red Palm oil and its benefits
Long overdue but here is the blog post I have promised for a while on the benefits of red palm oil.
What is it?
Red palm oil has a rich, dark red color when it is unprocessed. It is derived from the pulp or the mesocarp of the fruit of the palm oil tree which also has the deep red color. The palm oil tree is the African oil palm, Elaeis guineensis. Red palm oil should not be confused by palm kernel oil which is derived from the seed of the palm tree. (This article is about the benefits of unprocessed red palm oil and not the palm oil extracted from the kernel or the seed). It is used in cooking especially in Asia and Africa.
How is it extracted?
It is cold pressed and best in an unprocessed organic state. Indonesia and Malaysia have been the top producers of this variety.
Nutrients in red palm oil?
Red palm oil is full of lycopene (also found in tomatoes) as well as alpha-carotene and beta-carotene(found in carrots) and these 2 nutrients give it its exotic red color. Red palm oil is also very rich in Vitamin E in the form of tocotreinols. A popular brand from Malaysia was available from Whole Foods – the bottle states no preservates or colors. Also, 1 tbsp (~14g) has 14g of fat out of which 6.5g are Monounsaturates, 5.6g are saturates and 1.9g polyunsaturates. It also contained 11.2mg of natural Vitamin E along with Natural Co-Enzyme Q10. Impressive but watch out for high saturates.
What are its benefits?
- It may help lowering cholestrol and prevent heart ailments
- Nutritional benefit (see above)
- Promotes skin health
- May aid in weight loss
- Anti-oxidant and enables elimination of free radicals from body
There is some talk of the massive deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia to accomodate for the high demand for palm oil worldwide. Also, species like the “pygmy elephant” are becoming high risk due to this.
I wonder what cooking with this almost exotically bizzare looking oil will be like. I cannot wait to try…this weekend!
– Gary Saggu
Part 1 of this series – Olive Oil
Part 2 of this series – Macadamia Oil