Why palm oil intake is of no health concern
Palm oil is an oil with a widespread use in food industry, mainly in applications where texture, neutral taste and long shelf life are required. In the last few years some opinionates, non-governmental organizations as well as industries, mainly in France, Italy, Belgium and Norway have contributed to an escalation of negative publicity surrounding this oil. This article aims at critically scrutinizing the main dietary concerns about palm oil.
Palm oil is the most widely-used vegetable oil in the world, followed by soybean oil, rapeseed and sunflower oil. With a growing world population, the global demand of fats and oils is rising. Palm oil is inexpensive to grow and has a high yield: a single hectare can produce up to seven tons of oil, which is 7-10 times higher than the other major oilseed crops (1) (Figure 1). In addition to the use as food component, palm oil is also used in detergents and personal care products, particularly in soaps, but can also serve as biofuel.
Oil palm trees grow in the humid tropics (Figure 2). Apart from the major palm oil producing countries Indonesia and Malaysia, there is an increase in palm oil production in other parts of the world including South and Central America, Thailand and Western Africa. In the last few years, advocacy groups or single individuals with varying agenda, have made of palm oil a “specially monitored ingredient”, accused of increasing cardiovascular disease risk and of being the major culprit of deforestation (2-5).
It is commonly believed that palm oil, compared to other vegetabl ...