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What is Palm Fruit Oil? Is it safe?

July 30, 2009

Crave Bakery uses organic palm fruit oil in nearly all of its products.  We have chosen this ingredient as an all-natural, non-dairy, trans fat-free alternative to butter or vegetable shortening.  Keeping our products dairy-free means that the millions of Americans who suffer from Lactose intolerance can enjoy Crave’s baked delicacies with confidence.  We also feel that it is important to avoid harmful hydrogenated fats (trans fats), which are included in so many mass-market prepared foods.

Many Americans may have a negative connotation about palm oil in general.  This is probably due to memories of the Tropical oil health scare in the 1980’s.  When palm oil was first marketed in the United States in the early 80’s, it was entering a market dominated by soybean oil, which enjoyed a market share of over 70%.  Upon entering the US market, palm oil became the subject of a massive smear campaign, including negative advertising and allegations that palm oil was harmful to health.

According to the American Palm Oil Council:

“In 1987, a bill was proposed in Congress to impose special labeling restrictions on food products containing tropical oils. The bill was withdrawn following stiff opposition – including criticism by the FDA, the office of the United States Trade Representative, and the scientific community. The campaign against palm oil was unprecedented. Palm oil was used widely throughout the world, and no government had ever labeled it unhealthful. The USFDA criticized the negative advertising campaign.”

More recent news and scientific studies have shown that palm oil’s bad rap was largely unjustified.  However, much confusion remains about palm oil.  So first, some clarification is in order.  There are many different types of oil derived from oil palm trees.  The type that Crave Bakery and many other health-conscious artisan food companies use is palm fruit oil.  This is completely different than palm kernel oil, which is one of the “tropical oils” and truly should be avoided for health reasons. Palm fruit oil is derived from the red, fleshy fruit of the oil palm tree, while palm kernel oil is derived from the white, oily seed at the center of the fruit.  It is important to note the difference in the saturated fat content of these two distinct products: while the fat in palm fruit oil is approximately 50% saturated fat, the fat in palm kernel oil is approximately 80% saturated.

Don’t be scared away by the fact that palm fruit oil contains saturated fat.  It contains significantly less saturated fat than butter does, and we’ve all heard more and more health advocates in the media stating that it is actually better to eat butter than the processed, hydrogenated oil-based margarines and spreads – and butter contains dietary cholesterol as well.  The truth is that palm fruit oil contains a wide variety of fatty acids, as well as a powerful punch of antioxidants, which together make it a healthful alternative worthy of reconsideration:

  • University studies in China and Canada show that Palm Fruit Oil can help to increase good cholesterol and decrease bad cholesterol.
  • Palm fruit oil contains only 50% saturated fat as opposed to Palm Kernel oil, which is approximately 80% saturated fat.
  • Palm fruit oil contains many vitamins – caratenoids (Vitamin A), tocopherols and tocotrienols (Vitamin E) – which  help to remove damaging free radicals from the body.  It contains more vitamin E than any other dietary fat.
  • Tocotrienols are reported to aid in prevention of cardiovascular disease, decreasing platelet aggregation, and inhibiting growth of certain types of cancer cells.  Tocotrienols are also thought to actually reverse blockage of the carotid artery and reduce the risk of arteriosclerosis.
  • Palm fruit oil is high in oleic acid – same beneficial fatty acid as in olive and canola oil.  This fatty acid is shown to aid on maintaining healthy blood cholesterol levels.
  • The plant nutrients and vitamins in Palm Fruit Oil are highly absorbable and readily used by the body because the fat-soluble vitamins are present in the oil medium itself – like taking a Vitamin E capsule.
  • Palm fruit oil has a long shelf life and exceptional resistance to the damaging effects of oxygen and heat.  Its high levels of naturally occurring antioxidants help products retain their freshness without using additives or preservatives.
  • Humans with palm fruit oil-enriched diets show no increase in LDL (bad) cholesterol or total cholesterol levels.
  • Palm fruit oil’s impact on serum lipid and lipoprotein profiles compares favorably to corn and olive oils.
  • Most palm fruit oil is non-hydrogenated, and ALL of the palm fruit oil Crave Bakery uses is organic, non-hydrogenated, and sourced from the most responsible, sustainable sources available.

While it is true that in some parts of the world, the spread of oil palm plantations has lead to astonishing levels of deforestation and habitat destruction.  This is a tragic situation, and one which Crave Bakery does not want to support.  Most palm oil harvested from sources like this is mass-market, processed, non-organic oil, some of it is refined and hydrogenated, and much of it is palm kernel oil.  At Crave Bakery, we continually evaluate our suppliers to ensure that our wholesome products are made with responsibly-sourced, natural ingredients that are not harmful to the environment or the people who harvest and produce them.

We believe that our organic palm fruit oil is a healthful alternative to the other oils available for baking, and that its benefits are just beginning to be recognized.  We welcome your questions and comments about our products and ingredients, as we are always looking for ways to make our goodies even better.  Please feel free to drop us an email at info@cravebakery.com.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Justine permalink
    July 31, 2009 9:08 pm

    hi
    trying to sign up for your blog
    Justine

    • September 9, 2009 7:48 pm

      Hi Justine,

      You can noow sign up for an email subscription to our Blog! Check out our page to enable this feature.

      Thanks for reading!

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