With nutritionists recommending Americans reduce the amount of unhealthy fats included in their diets, you may wonder which fats are better choices than others. Too many saturated or trans-fats can lead to plaque build-up and heart disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, reducing the amount of saturated fats and trans-fats is the most important way to lower your risk for heart disease and high cholesterol. Monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats, on the other hand, can be good choices.
Palm Fruit Oil vs. Palm Kernel Oil
Palm fruit oil and palm kernel oil should be differentiated, as they are distinctly different oils. Palm fruit oil, cultivated mostly in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea from the oil palm plant, is pressed from the flesh of the palm fruit. This oil contains about equal amounts of saturated and unsaturated oils and a host of micronutrients. The non-hydrated oil is free of trans fats. Palm kernel oil, on the other hand, is made from the kernel, or seed, of the palm fruit. These kernels are removed from clusters of palm fruit and pressed for the rich oil they produce. According to Felicia Stoler, RD, palm kernel oil contains about 85 percent saturated fats and can raise your cholesterol levels, making it a poor choice for heart health.
Palm Fruit Oil Nutrients
Palm fruit oil contains a host of micronutrients that can help with better overall health, according to Stoler. Red palm fruit oil is also an excellent source of beta-carotene and vitamin E, in the form of tocotrienol and tocopherols. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, both beta-carotene and vitamin E are fat-soluble antioxidants, which are substances that destroy free radicals. Free radicals are believed to contribute to a number of conditions, including heart disease. Increasing your intake of beta-carotene and vitamin E can help keep free radicals from destroying cells through oxidation and can assist you in having good heart health.
Using Palm Fruit Oil
Palm fruit oil can be useful in the kitchen. It is a relatively inexpensive oil. The oil maintains stability at high temperatures, useful for sauteing and frying. Look for virgin palm oil or red palm oil, the choices with the highest quantity of beta-carotene and vitamin E. Some processed foods contain palm fruit oil, such as peanut butter, to assist with stability.
Oil and Your Heart
Palm fruit oil can be a heart-healthy choice when consumed as part of a balanced diet. No oil is good for your heart when used in large quantities; in moderation, however, palm fruit oil delivers a balance of fats and some of the antioxidants needed to maintain a healthy heart.
- Mayo Clinic: Heart-Healthy Diet: 8 Steps to Prevent Heart Disease
- "Health News Digest": Making Sense of Fats for Cooking and Food Preparation; April 2011
- "Journal of Lipid Science and Technology": Changes in Tocopherols, Tocotrienols and β--Carotene During Processing of Palm Oil Extracted from Indian Grown Palm Fruit; Sakina Khatoon, et al; April 2007
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin E
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Beta-Carotene
- Peanut Butter and Co.: FAQs