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Is Palm Oil the New Trans Fat?

Partially hydrogenated oil is a type of trans fat that has gotten a lot of flak, and rightfully so. This chemically altered fat is known to raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, lower HDL (good) cholesterol levels, and increase your chance of developing coronary heart disease. Many companies are replacing hydrogenated oil with palm oil, saying that's it's a healthier option.

On nutritional labels you might see this ingredient listed as palm-fruit oil, since it's extracted from the fruit of the oil palm tree. This is not to be confused with palm kernel oil, which comes from the palm seed found inside the fruit. Eighty-six percent of the fat in palm kernel oil is saturated (the unhealthy fat), and 50 percent of the fat from palm-fruit oil is saturated, so it's the better choice of the two, but is palm oil considered healthy? To find out


Palm oil is high in saturated fat, and so are butter, whole milk, ground beef, and skin from chicken. These fats should be limited just like trans fats; they clog your arteries and can lead to heart problems. Small amounts of palm oil are seen as safe, but I wouldn't go out of your way to eat foods containing it, and would instead look for foods made with canola or olive oils.

Palm oil has also been in the news over the past couple years for environmental reasons. The palm fruit is found in rain forests, and the production of palm oil is leading to deforestation, which is in turn driving orangutans to near extinction. So if you're concerned about your health and the well-being of the planet, I'm sure you'll be diligently label reading the next time you hit the grocery store.

cnutgrl cnutgrl 6 years
Actually saturated fat from the palm fruit and coconut are healthy fats. Your body burns them up as fuel, and does NOT store them. These fats, saturated and monounsaturated, are essential to good heart health, and cell growth, and basically for overall health. A low fat diet is NOT heart healthy, contrary to what we are told to be "true".
Fitness Fitness 8 years
genipher85 - Yes, sorry to say it is Smart Balance.
ella1978 ella1978 8 years
My finance is actually taking a class right now where they are doing creative writing, and the whole class is about unhealthy eating. I was reading in one of his books "fat america" I think it was about the introduction of palm oil to the market. I want to say that it was like 90% of the industry in Malyasia at one point in time, and because of the cheaper labor they could make it cheap to use, and it was replacing vegtable oil. At the same time, farmers were starting to use their corn to start making High Fructoce Corn Syrup because of it's popularity... It's pretty messed up how the country went from eating home made bread and mashed potatoes to all of this processed food, but I guess at the same time the price for meat and sugar were extremely high, and these substitues were available for much cheaper... interesting reading.
Calimie Calimie 8 years
I don't know about the US but in Europe or, at least, in Spain, if you see: "vegetable oil" it always mean palm or coconut oil. Both are bad, if it's olive or sunflower oil it's specified (sometimes with big letters on the package). I didn't know about the environmental consequences of palm. One more reason to avoid it.
sarlafrock sarlafrock 8 years
Palm oil plantations are built in tropical areas - and tropical forests are being cut down so that we can grow more palm oil. We are losing these forests at the rate of 1 acre per second - scary!! Given that these forests are home to over half of the world's plant and animal species - we are putting so many things at risk of extinction, and possibly losing things we have never even seen yet. VERY SCARY! The cures to diseases could be lost with these entire ecosystems. ( to learn more)
genipher85 genipher85 8 years
I'm trying to figure out what that product is in the picture. I think it looks like smart balance spread. I hope it isn't because that is what I use at home! If it is, then I am throwing that crap away!
Spectra Spectra 8 years
Companies that are doing this are basically robbing Peter to pay Paul...they can't use trans fat, so they replace it with something just about as bad. It's just better to avoid those sorts of foods entirely (things like cookies, chips, etc.) and if you want saturated fat, get it from a natural source like beef or pork or something.
mamasitamalita mamasitamalita 8 years
so good to know!!!!!!
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