Palm oil is a liquid that is extracted from the fruits of the African palm or scientifically known as Elaeis guineensis, which has its origin in some African regions, although it is also cultivated in South-East Asia and South America. This oil is one of the most consumed in the world and, in fact, is an ingredient in virtually all food products in a supermarket.
Origin and uses of palm oil
The palm oil is produced through the fruits obtained from African palm also known as Elais guineensis. This evergreen plant is grown in some regions of Africa and southwest Asia, with the two areas producing the most oil.
As we have announced, palm oil is one of the most used worldwide and daily, we consume it in practically all the foods that we buy. In addition, not only is used as an ingredient in food products but also, this product can be found in an infinity of cosmetics, including facial and body creams, toothpaste and soaps, among others.
This widespread use is due to two reasons:
- Compared with other oils, palm oil is cheaper to produce. Therefore, we can find it in different products, mainly food.
- It remains in the solid state at room temperature much longer than other oils, which is beneficial for the final product in which this oil is used, to maintain its shape.
Is palm oil bad for health? – Effects on health
Many people wonder if it is bad to consume palm oil and the answer is YES: your daily consumption can have very negative effects on a person’s health.
This food, at a nutritional level, has an excessive content of saturated or bad fats (short chain fatty acids). In fact, it has been proven that approximately 50% of the fatty acids in this edible are of this type. The problem with these fats is that they remain stored in our body and, with their repeated consumption, can produce the following cardiovascular problems:
- Weight gain and obesity.
- Increase of bad cholesterol (LDL) in blood.
- Reduce good cholesterol (HDL).
This does not mean that a low consumption of this food is not going to cause all these health problems, that is, does not mean that by stopping consumption directly avoid these problems for sure, but we will reduce the risk in a very important way.
The problem is that most people consume it daily and in excessive quantities because it is an ingredient of almost any supermarket product. To identify it, it is very important that you read the labels of what you buy as many brands try to disguise it with the following pseudonyms : palm kernel oil, palm kernel hydrogenated vegetable fat, palm stearin, palmolein, palm olein, lard of palm or, even, by its scientific name, elais guineensis .
Other problems caused by palm oil
The consumption of this food not only causes the health problems mentioned above, but also palm oil aggravates global problems, namely the following:
Exploitation of the environment
Every year, countless kilometers of rainforests are burned due to the excessive production of palm kernel oil. We found Borneo, New Guinea, Sumatra and some regions of Southeast Asia among the countries most affected by this exploitation. The negative consequences of this production is that, on the one hand, the deforestation of the lungs of our planet is increasing in order to plant more palms and, on the other hand, they are causing the displacement and death of people living in these areas, as well like the extinction of diverse species that live in those jungles. All this due to the destruction of the environment and the pollution that occurs.
Terrible working conditions
The growth of this industry has also led to an increase in labor. However, this does not mean an improvement in the conditions of the workers of the plantations of these palms, but quite the opposite: it has increased disproportionately both what is known as semi-slavery and child labor in these productions.
List of products and foods with palm oil
As we have indicated, the palm butter is consumed daily in an excessive way because we find it in different products, both food and cosmetics. Next, we invite you to review the labeling of the following genres:
- Spreads: marmalade, margarine and cocoa or hazelnut cream.
- Industrial pastries: cakes, cakes, cookies and pastries.
- Pre-cooked food: fried potatoes, frozen fried vegetables, cream of envelope, soups and pizzas.
- Appetizers: crackers, potato chips and other snacks,
- Cosmetics: check the label of shampoos, soaps, creams (facial and body) and lotions.