Palm oil

Today your advisors of Mediterranean Diet present you:

Palm oil on the Net

Recently on change.org was launched a petition online, “Stop the invasion of palm oil“, which invites companies to replace palm oil with other non-hydrogenated vegetable oils or with butter. The use of this vegetable fat has long been one of the most discussed topics on the Web (ethical, environmental, health reasons) and, as often happens in the network, the more you talk the less you do it in an objective and scientific way. But let’s start from the data.

From the environmental point of view, it is certain that some countries (Indonesia in particular) are deforesting huge rainforests to make room for these crops. For this reason, environmental groups, Greenpeace the first, for years are launching awareness and boycotts campaigns, in order to curb this phenomenon. Recently, moreover, Greenpeace released a report titled “By certifying the destruction”, currently only available in English.

We can say that by the production of palm oil depends a quarter of the loss of forest in Indonesia.

The research, conducted by activists on the field, shows that most of the deforestation occurs in concessions controlled by the same members of the RSPO (Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil), an organization created to ensure the sustainability of the palm oil production. This shows that there is still much to do on the environmental front, but the problem is not related to the cultivation of palm oil, but deforestation. If you use any land already used for other crops, palm oil has a carbon footprint per kg not only comparable to other oils, but often lower (Jannick Schmidt H, 2010, Comparative life cycle assessment of rapeseed oil and palm oil, the International Journal of LCA 15, pp.183-197).

The problem is not the cultivation of palm oil itself, (in fact, the world does not lack arable land), but the wicked management of forests. Deforestation, in fact, is mainly practiced by the value of harvested timber, precious woods that helps to amortize the investment costs of the new plant palm.

On the latter point much we can do as citizens, demanding guarantees on the origin and sustainability of cultivation.

The same applies to the nutritional aspects. The palm fat is rich in saturated fatty acids, like other food products such as meat or butter, and in any case less than other tropical fats such as coconut.

The nutritional guidelines of the Cra-Nut (Center for Research on Food and Nutrition) suggest not to exceed with the consumption of these foods, because there is no evidence linking the excess intake of saturated fat and the increased risk of cancer, such as the intestine. But even in this case precisely the problem is not the “palm” in itself, but the intake of saturated fatty acids.

In many products, if you do not use palm oil you should use animal fats (butter, lard) or hydrogenated fats , thus not solving the problem of saturated fats, that the scientific world, in harmony, however, considers harmful because they may contain trans fatty acids, considered responsible for an increase of cardiovascular diseases.

Finally, as published in 2014 by the Institute Mario Negri in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, there is no evidence that regular consumption of palm oil face significantly increase the concentration of fat in the blood, as well as increases ratio of bad cholesterol (LDL) and good (HDL).

But above all, do not show a greater presence of bad cholesterol in the blood among habitual consumers of palm oil, compared to people who employ the other ones.

Let food be your medicine and medicine be thy food” Hippocrates said. As always, the real rule is to have a diet as possible varied and balanced.

REPLACE PALM OIL

Some well-known brands in the food industry world undertake to replace palm oil with products less harmful to the environment and to the health (Ikea, Ld Market, Coop, Md Discount and Esselunga).

DAMAGES PALM OIL HEALTH

In addition to being damaging to the environment, the palm oil is also deleterious to health. Assume palm oil sporadically not cause damage, but the majority of confectionery and bakery products using this oil rich in saturated fats which may even reach 50% in the case of palm oil derived from the fruits and 80% in ‘palm kernel oil, derived from the seeds. Saturated fats are to clog the arteries causing cholesterol.

PRODUCTS THAT CONTAIN PALM OIL

Sometimes it is difficult to see which products contained palm oil, most of the time it is written in the label, many others there is only the word “vegetable oil”. Palm oil is used in snacks and desserts, Crackers and in baked goods and fried foods.

HOW TO REPLACE PALM OIL 

Palm oil has a very low cost for this, industries are reluctant to change it to a more sustainable oil. Besides palm oil does not become rancid like butter and hasn’t a pungent taste like olive oil. It’s therefore appreciable the commitment of the companies that have given their willingness to abolish this product, without compromising the price, by the end of 2015.

The team of Mediterranean Diet invites you to the next article to find out the benefits of the Mediterranean diet recipes.

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