The palm oil is a substance extracted from palm oil. More than 40% of the products we consume every day contain palm oil . This is precisely what has led to its overexploitation and there is currently a debate created around the deforestation that generates its production. Only soybean oil is more produced, with the difference that the latter is cultivated and has less environmental impact.
What is palm oil for?
The environmental debate, beyond focusing on the excessive deforestation caused by the production of this oil, is due to the few benefits of this oil for health . The uses of palm oil are generally industrial, for the creation of biofuels, livestock feed and in many cases for frying in the kitchen.
Today, it has largely displaced hydrogenated fats in culinary use. This is because the World Health Organization determined that these types of oils were harmful to health . Also, from a nutritional point of view, palm oil does not seem like a viable substitute as it is rich in saturated fat .
Regarding its uses as a biofuel, it is used for its high flammable level, which makes it a good food for industrial ovens. It is also used in domestic and industrial heating systems.
It is used in the creation of cosmetics and cleaning products, but the most alarming thing is the use that candy companies give it when using it in the cooking of many of their products . It is very common in hazelnut creams, snacks, cookies, among other consumables.
Where does this oil come from?
The oil is obtained by distilling the fruit of the African palm , a very common species in Indonesia and Malaysia, which is why these are the world’s largest producers. The palm tree produces optimal fruits for distillation in its first calving, so that after harvesting it is necessary to deforest and replant .
Once it is extracted, the virgin palm oil is stored and later industrialized . After 30 days it oxidizes and many of its good fats become saturated. In this last state it is consumed in all kinds of appetizers.
This is not a new practice, 5000 years ago the African civilization already extracted oil from the palm. Mainly in Guinea, where it was produced in greater quantity. The difference is that at that time, the mature oil, freshly extracted from the plant, was consumed when its components are most useful for human consumption, giving them well-being.
Currently, Malaysia is the main producer of this oil . Industrialization has caused the product to be mishandled and reach the consumer’s hands in a state unfit to be ingested.
Europe is one of the main buyers . In Latin America, Colombia and Ecuador are the main producers, but they are subject to rigorous environmental regulations to prevent deforestation from spiraling out of control.
The palm oil is made on a 40 or 50% of saturated fatty acids . In this case, the main substance observed is palmitic acid. This is the most common saturated fatty acid in our entire diet, it is consumed in meat and many dairy products. During World War II, it was used for the production of chemical weapons such as napalm.
35 or 45% monounsaturated fatty acids are also appreciated . In this case a strong concentration of oleic acid is found. This belongs to the omega 9 series and is very beneficial for the purification of blood vessels, preventing many cardiovascular diseases.
There is also a 5 or 10% polyunsaturated fatty acids that are excellent for brain and heart health due to their content of omega 6 and omega 3.
This is its composition in its ripe state , when it is freshly extracted from the African palm fruit. After 30 days it begins to oxidize and the percentage of saturated fat rises to almost 70% .
Impact of its consumption on humans
Palmitic acid is responsible for many heart attacks according to the WHO. This oil increases the chances of suffering myocardial attacks and reduces aerobic capacity considerably. In addition, it is estimated that 90% of palm oil consumed by humans is in an advanced oxidation state , which increases the amount of saturated fatty acids we consume in each dose.
Unfortunately, the good level of omega 9 it contains does not justify its excessive use. In fact, hundreds of oils with better nutritional values than palm oil can be used , such as sunflower, corn or soybean oil, which can all have the same uses.
Why is it so consumed?
The palm oil is a substance easy to distill , it does not need as long as others. This makes it a cheap alternative as an alternative fuel. It is a versatile oil as far as cooking is concerned because it can be fried with it and also used as a substitute for butter thanks to its spreadable texture. For industrial interests , it is much easier to produce than its natural substitutes (coconut and soy) which are better for nutrition. For industries, time is money and they consume colossal amounts of palm oil per year in many of their products, so they always need to be stocked.
As the African palm is a disposable plant for industrial interests, it is necessary to start cultivation processes every time you want to obtain fresh fruit for distillation. This has forced palm producers to abuse deforestation to find new land to plant and produce.
The environmental impact is obvious . Currently 70% of Malaysia’s palm crops are found in areas that were once fertile forests. In Indonesia, 50% of the forests have been replaced by palm plantations, which affects not only the flora, but also the fauna since logging leaves it without habitat to live, which accelerates the extinction processes of multiple species .
Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.