Is Palm Oil Really Unhealthy Or Harmful?

When asked whether palm oil is unhealthy or harmful, two issues are often mixed up: the health impact of consumption and the environmental impact of high palm oil consumption. How Bad Is Palm Oil?

There is cheap palm oil in many finished products – unhealthy or not? These are questions that attentive consumers ask themselves. Parents in particular want to know whether palm oil is harmful to health. Because it is also used for many desserts that children like, such as nut nougat cream and chocolate biscuits.

Is palm oil harmful if a lot of it is consumed?

Palm oil is obtained from the fruit of the oil palm. During the production of palm oil, the so-called refining, fatty pollutants, also called fatty acid esters, are formed. The following are particularly problematic and harmful to health:

Glycidyl Fatty Acid Esters: They are broken down in the body. In the process, glycidol is released, which is considered carcinogenic and is said to hurt the genome. There are no limit values ​​at which health consequences can be ruled out.

Is palm fat unhealthy for children?

For adults and adolescents, the average amount of 3-MCPD consumed is between 0.2 and 1.3 micrograms per day, i.e. well below the limit value. It should be noted, however, that no upper limits have yet been set for the other two fat pollutants.

The situation is more critical for infants and small children who are fed with infant formula or follow-on formula. They are so-called “high consumers” because these products usually contain palm oil, which can be harmful. In some cases, they achieve an intake of 2.6 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day. Even if these are estimated limit values, doctors advise limiting the intake of palm fat to be able to rule out negative health-damaging effects.

Is palm oil unhealthy compared to other fats?

Although palm oil is a vegetable fat, its structure differs from oils that are mainly used for cooking, such as olive oil, sunflower oil, or rapeseed oil.

The proportion of saturated, bad fatty acids in classic hardened palm fat is higher than in other vegetable oils. It’s around 50 percent. In the case of palm kernel oil, which is not obtained from the fruit but the kernels, it can even be up to 80 percent.

The proportion of saturated fatty acids in consumption should be well below the unsaturated fatty acids, ideally in a ratio of one to two. Palm oil is therefore relatively unhealthy, for example in comparison to olive oil. The World Health Organization points out that studies suggest a link between increased palm fat consumption and a greater risk of cardiovascular disease.

Is palm fat harmful to the environment?

The production of palm oil has increased rapidly in recent years, from 15 million tons in 1995 to 66 million tons in 2017. Palm oil is harmful to environmental protection, because in Southeast Asia, for example, the rainforest has to give way for production, which is associated with increased species extinction connected and worsens the balance of greenhouse gases.

If you don’t want to do without palm oil, you should at least buy organic palm oil, which is grown under better conditions and processed gently, i.e. it is labeled “native” and “cold-pressed”. It provides a lot of vitamin E. In addition, this form of palm oil is not unhealthy because it does not contain the harmful fatty acid esters that are produced during refining.

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