The Invisible Dangers of Palm Oil – Healthcare News

When it comes to packaged food, Mumbai-based Raaginee Razdan is very conscious of the product she picks up at her local supermarket. Taking into account the nutritional information that is labeled on cereals, breads, pickles and other everyday items, it also looks at ingredients such as oil, sugar, salt or spices that are commonly found in most processed food products such as snacks and pastries.

After being diagnosed with high cholesterol levels last year, I have followed a strict diet as advised by my nutritionist. Therefore, I use moderate amounts of different oils in the kitchen, but I have reduced my intake of packaged foods, which contain a certain type of vegetable oil that is not really healthy, says the 40-year-old housewife.

The vegetable oil Razdan is referring to is edible palm oil widely used as an ingredient in many recipes in approximately 70% of packaged food products, from cookies to breads, chocolates to cookies, cakes, butter peanut, chips and more.

For example, look at the packaging of Harvest Gold bread brand or other products like Maggie noodles, Haldirams snacks, Parle-G biscuits, Vadilal and Cream Bell ice cream and frozen desserts, milk chocolate pearls Enjoy or even baked cakes and frozen desserts. from local pastry chefs, among many others, and in all of them you will find the use of vegetable oil or edible palm. The versatile and high-performance properties of palm oil such as cooking or baking at high temperatures with a melting point of 95F (35C), which is significantly higher than the melting point of coconut oil (76F/24C ), in addition to its creamy texture and absence of smell, makes it a perfect and affordable ingredient for recipes. Foods using palm oil can also be stored and processed for long-term use.

In fact, the consumption of processed snacks and bakery items from local vendors, bakers and food manufacturers that use butter, creams, fats and oils extracted from vegetable fats and low-priced palm oil has been very affordable for industrial use. . And this constant consumption of palm oil in some long-term processed and packaged foods has been associated with health hazards. Because it is made of 50% saturated fat, mainly palmitic acid, a saturated fatty acid, which is the main constituent of refined palm oil, it increases the levels of LDL cholesterol, or bad cholesterol, in the blood, increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It’s also packed with calories at about 135 calories per tablespoon. Mustard oil, by comparison, has 50.
When asked about the use of palm oil, its alternatives and some considerations for its consumption and production, experts say moderation is key.

Dr Ankur Gupta, Consultant Internal Medicine, Fortis Escorts, Okhla, Delhi, says: Moderation is key with all oils, but palm oil is dense in calories, so excessive consumption can contribute to ‘weight gain if not balanced with physical activity and other aspects. of a healthy diet. It has more saturated fat than many other vegetable oils. A high intake of saturated fat can increase LDL cholesterol levels, which is associated with a higher risk of heart disease. Palm oil is commonly used in processed foods, where it can be found in large quantities along with other unhealthy ingredients such as added sugars and refined carbohydrates. Therefore, consuming excessive amounts of processed foods containing palm oil can contribute to poor diet quality and associated health problems such as obesity and chronic disease.

Gupta says avoiding palm oil entirely can be challenging, as it is prevalent in many processed foods and consumer products. It is best to reduce your intake by checking the labels. Opt for whole, minimally processed foods whenever possible. Fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds generally do not contain palm oil. Cooking from scratch allows you to have better control over the ingredients you use. Therefore, choose products from companies that are committed to using sustainably sourced palm oil or provide transparent information about their sourcing practices. Look for certification labels like RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) to ensure that the palm oil used meets certain environmental and social standards, adds Gupta.

While there is no specific minimum amount of palm oil for consumption, Pratiksha Kadam, Consultant, Dietitian, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Navi Mumbai, recommends consuming fats/oils in moderation as part of a balanced diet. This typically ranges from 20-35% of total daily calories with an emphasis on unsaturated fats. For most people, this translates to about 2-3 tablespoons (30-45 ml) of healthy fats/oils per day, spread over meals. Studies have found that some palm oil processing methods led to the formation of contaminants, such as 3-MCPD (a contaminant first identified in acid-hydrolyzed vegetable proteins and soy sauce), which have potential risks for health At the same time, moderate consumption of palm oil as part of a balanced diet may not pose significant health risks for most people, Kadam says.

For those with health issues like heart disease or high cholesterol, Kadam says they should be extra cautious and can limit or avoid palm oil. It is important to balance your palm oil intake with other healthier fats and maintain a healthy nutritious diet in general. Consulting a nutritionist or doctor for professional advice is recommended, says Kadam.

Cultivating a disaster
Palm oil has a higher yield at a lower production cost than other vegetable oils, and global production and demand for palm oil is also increasing. Oil plantations have spread across tropical areas of Asia, Africa and Latin America, which are important habitats for endangered species. So is palm oil environmentally friendly production and sourcing?
Palm oil has been leading to unsustainable production and has been directly linked to the destruction of precious habitat. With a huge demand for palm oil, the impact on wildlife has been alarming.

Palm oil logging and mining, the slash and burn technique, peat drainage, all these have affected the habitat of the orangutans in Borneo and Sumatra and the habitat of the tiger in Malaysia.

Because oil palm is mainly grown in areas with high rainfall, especially in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Cameroon, where governments cleared forests to plant them, the plant has led to massive deforestation, destroying habitats endangered species such as orangutans and reducing planetary resilience to climate change.

The oil palm, a tropical, perennial crop that is cultivated primarily for its vegetable oil, is extracted from the mesocarp (reddish pulp) of the fruit. The oil palm produces high-quality oil used mainly for cooking in developing countries, in addition to its use in food products, detergents, cosmetics and, to a small extent, biofuels.

While many brands such as Nestlé, General Mills and Cargill are committed to the responsible sourcing of palm oil, there is a global partnership called The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) that was established in 2004 to promote the growth and the use of sustainable palm oil. products through global standards and multi-stakeholder governance.

On the other hand, India is both the world’s largest consumer and largest importer of palm oil. Under the National Mission for Edible Oil Palm launched in 2021, the Center aims to increase domestic production, proposed to cover an additional area of ​​6.5 lakh hectares (ha) for oil palm up to by 2025-26 and thus achieve the target of 10 lakh. hectare in short. Crude palm oil (CPO) production is expected to rise to 11.20 lakh tonnes in 2025-26 and to 28 lakh tonnes in 2029-30. A report published in FE quoted an agriculture ministry official on the plan to increase the total palm area of ​​various companies like Godrej Agrovet, Patanjali Food and 3F Oil Palm Agrotech to 0.65 MH in the next 5- 6 years from the current level of 0.3 MH. .

According to the Solvent Extractors Association of India, the country’s import of palm, soybean and sunflower oils rose 17% to a record 16.47 MT (valued at 1.38 trillion ) the oil year 2022-23 (November-October) due to the year. to falling world prices and low import duties. Imports of palm oil, mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia, constitute about 59% of total edible oil imports. In national production, mustard has a share of 40%, soybeans 24% and peanuts 7%.

Be oil wise

Read the labels
In many countries, food labeling regulations require manufacturers to list the ingredients used in their products. Look for palm oil specified in the ingredients list. It may be listed under alternative names such as palm oil, palm fruit oil or vegetable oil. If a product claims to be palm oil free, check the label carefully to confirm

Look for certification
Sustainable palm oil certification schemes, such as the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification, aim to promote the production and use of palm oil that meets certain environmental standards and social Look for products labeled with RSPO certification or other credible sustainability certifications to ensure that the palm oil used has been responsibly sourced.

Research the brand
If you’re unsure about the palm oil used in a particular product, consider researching the brand or manufacturer to learn more about their sourcing practices and commitment to sustainability.
Dr Ankur Gupta, Consultant, Internal Medicine, Fortis Escorts, New Delhi

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