Is red palm oil safe?

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The production of red palm oil has soared over the last few decades and its consumption skyrocketed in the worldwide market, according to EPOA, a business initiative of palm oil refiners and producers. Even so, its production has been both beneficial and controversial over recent years. This article will look at what red palm oil is and its benefits to our bodies.

What is palm oil?

Palm oil is the oil generated from the red fruit of the oil palm tree, and thus the name red palm oil. It is extracted from both the pulp of the fruit and its kernel and harvested in several regions in Asia and West Africa. Due to the myriad of production techniques from different areas, palm oil has acquired various names over the years. Red palm oil is the typical name for unrefined palm oil, a rich source of antioxidants and carotenoids.

It is commonly used in fried or sautéed dishes since it has a high smoke point and heat stability. Moreover, most countries consume it in margarine or as a shortening. Refining the production process has produced a healthier alternative to red palm oil than its standard quality. 

Does red palm oil have health benefits?

Yes! Red palm oil contains phytonutrients such as phytosterols, squalene, ubiquinone, vitamin E, and carotenoids. Each of these nutrients has functions in our bodies listed as follows:

  • Ubiquinone contains antioxidative properties which help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. Free radicals in our bodies commonly cause oxidative stress and inflammation. These free radicals are molecules that can cause large chain chemical reactions in your body when under stress or exposure to pollutants. Ubiquinone also contributes to anticancer activity and provided cardioprotection to Friedreich’s ataxia patients.
  • Squalene is an organic compound that acts as a natural antioxidant and improves the skin at the cellular level. This compound offers radioprotective effects and anticancer activity. However, one limitation of squalene is that it inhibits cholesterol synthesis.
  • On the other hand, phytosterols contain cholesterol-reducing properties, reducing the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. It also provides the anticancer activity.
  •  Vitamin E contains tocopherol and tocotrienol compounds which have antioxidant properties and prevent cell damage. It also provides anticancer and cardioprotective activities. Besides that, its compound composition is used to enhance diabetes management.
  • Carotenoids work to prevent vitamin A deficiency and protect against night blindness and offer anticancer and cardioprotective effects.