Palm oil is commonly frowned upon in the food industry for a variety of reasons, one of the most important being its impact on human health. Since its introduction to the African market, palm oil has received adverse labels such as " unhealthy" and " dangerous". But the most common saying is just a myth.
Palm oil is a naturally stable vegetable oil that will remain intact even at frying temperatures of 160°C to 200°C. Although it is still widely used in countries like Ghana and Nigeria, the myth of its safety is still widespread.
Here are five such myths and what experts say about them.
Palm oil has no nutritional value because it contains only fatty acids.
Fatty acids are not the only components of palm oil. Vegetable oils are also rich in carotenoids and a plant antioxidant called vitamin E. They are also high in beta and alpha-carotene, which can be converted to vitamin A by the body to improve vision and immunity.
However, nutritionists emphasize that repeated consumption of palm oil for frying can deplete these nutrients.
Since palm oil does not contain trans fat, all palm oil-based products are good.
Although palm oil doesn't contain trans fat like some other common oils, it still contains substantial amounts of saturated fat. So, it should be consumed in moderate quantities.
Again, you must keep in mind that repeated use of palm oil at extremely high temperatures can produce unhealthy compounds like free radicals and also lower their nutritional value.
Therefore, experts recommend consuming a healthy mixture of different oils, alongside palm oil, in moderate quantities and using appropriate cooking methods.
Palm oil contains trans fat sInce it is used to make margarine.
Although this may seem like logical reasoning, it is not factual. Trans fats are created from the hydrogenation of unsaturated fats, which are most commonly found in plant oils. Margarine is made through this process but if its parent oil is palm oil, then it is free of trans fat, known to increase bad cholesterol levels.
That's because, unlike most other margarine products that contain trans fat, margarine made from palm oil doesn't require hydrogenation as the oil is naturally semi-solid at room temperature.
Palm oil becomes toxic when it is used to fry food.
Palm oil possesses a substantial level of stability and remains so at frying temperatures within a temperature range between 160°C and 200°C. Thanks to this great stability, palm oil can be used to bake or fry foods within this healthy range. Furthermore, plant oil has a long shelf life because it can resist oxidation that causes rancidity at high temperatures.
Palm oil and its products are unhealthy because they contain a high amount of saturated fat.
Although palm oil contains a higher amount of saturated fat than other plant oils, it doesn't make it completely unhealthy. It contains monounsaturated fats and small amounts of polyunsaturated fats, which are considered " good" fats because they help improve blood cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease.
Therefore, many nutrition experts believe that palm oil has a near neutral effect on health and cholesterol levels.
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