The Health and Nutritional Benefits of Palm Oil

Palm oil is not only used daily as cooking oil, but is also commonly found in margarine, ice cream, chocolate, soap, instant noodles, biodiesel, cosmetic ingredients and cooking oil. Palm oil contains a balance of one of the healthiest nutritious fats and does not contain trans fatty acids (TFA) or hydrogenated fats. Besides having a healthy fat content, palm oil contains Vitamin A, and tocopherol and tocotrienol antioxidants. When consumed in moderation, palm oil supports healthier living.

Palm oil contains saturated and unsaturated oils, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and antioxidants. Just 10ml contains about 20% of one’s daily recommend Vitamin E intake. In addition to being rich in nutrients, the oil palm is the most efficient crop among all vegetable oils. A one-hectare plantation of oil palm trees yields an annual average of 3.8 tons of crude palm oil (CPO); other vegetable oils such as soybean, sunflower and palm yield 1 ton/ year. With around 3 billion people across 150 countries currently using palm oil-based products, palm oil plays an important role in boosting Indonesia’s economy.

As a producer and processor of palm oil, PT Asianagro Agung Jaya (Apical Marunda) continuously strives to ensure its products bring more benefits to its consumers. Apical Marunda adopts a science-based approach in ensuring its products remain of high quality and good nutrition. It also relies on established international research in its communication to the wider community on the health and nutritional benefits of palm oil.

Vitamins and Antioxidants

Lim Teck Guan, General Manager, Apical Marunda explained, “Palm oil is rich in fats and vitamins. Unrefined or crude palm oil contains 60 to 100 mg of vitamin E per 100 grams. After purification, an average 50-65% of the vitamin E remains, of which as much as 70% contain tocotrienols.”

Mr Lim further explained that other vegetable oils – such as corn, olives, soybeans, and sunflowers – may be good sources of tocopherols but do not contain tocotrienols. Tocotrienol works faster as an antioxidant (a substance that inhibits cell damage or death, DNA damage and the emergence of cancer cells or tumors caused by free radicals). Moreover, the polyunsaturated fats in palm oil are found to protect the brain from dementia, reduce the risk of stroke, and prevent the growth of brain tumors.

Apical Marunda manufactures several products commonly used as daily necessities. These include margarine brands Vitas and Medalia; and cooking oil brands Camar, Harumas, and Frybest.

Balanced Composition

Fats and oils are the main energy source of our body, with fats providing an important defense for the body’s cells. Not all fats stored in the body come from dietary fats; body fat can also be produced from the consumption of carbohydrates or alcohol.

Compared to other fats and oils, palm oil has an average level of saturated fats. A recent comparative study by Odia et al 2015 on the effects of vegetable oils on established heart disease biomarkers showed a beneficial change when palm oil replaced other oils.

“With its balanced composition, palm oil is said to be the most suitable vegetable cooking oil. When used for frying, it has high stability, is not easily rancid, and produces long-lasting fried products and does not contain excessive free radicals,” explained Dr Hartika Ketty SpKK.

The recommended intake of dietary fat for a healthy diet according to the European Food and Safety Authority (2010) and to the Food & Agriculture Organization (2010) are respectively 25-30% and 15-35%.

“So basically, the type of fat that is truly useful for the body is cholesterol. Cholesterol helps with the formation of cell walls, bile, hormones and vitamins. People tend to forget that the healthiest fats are actually derived from vegetable oils such as palm oil and not animals, but should of course be consumed in moderation,” added Dr Ketty.

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