Red Palm Oil: Good or Bad?

Red Palm Oil - (courtesy orynx.com)
Palm oil is the product of extracting, cooking and pressing the flesh of the palm fruit. It has an intense bright red colour which makes it desirable and defines the taste and appearance of the dishes in which it has been used.

Sometimes referred to as crude palm oil, red palm oil is the richest natural source of beta carotenes.


It also contains powerful anti-oxidants that help to fight against ageing effects and disease. Pure red palm oil is in a semi-solid state at room temperature, and has a very distinctive taste and odour.

Used in West African diets for thousand of years, palm oil has been successfully used as a treatment for Vitamin A deficiencies. In western countries, palm oil is often refined to bleach its colour, and remove tastes & odour to improve appearance and acceptance. But is must be said that the red unrefined pure palm oil remains the healthier choice.

Palm oil contains the highest quantities of carotene found in nature, about 30 times more than those found in carrots. Carotene is the basis for the formation of vitamin A in the body and this is essential for protection against night blindness, cataracts, age related muscular degeneration, free radicals (which cause cancer) and low immunity.

Cooking with palm oil
Palm oil is suitable for cooking different dishes including stews and soups. It is also ideal for frying and dressing. Care should be taken as over heating of palm oil may deplete the carotene content. To preserve the components of palm oil it is best to add palm oil to dishes towards the end of cooking to retain the nutrients.

Some Red Palm Oil (Unbleached) Facts

  • Red Palm oil has a long history of dietary use spanning over 5000 years just like olive oil. Highly organic and traditionally produced through a simple non-chemical process. 
  • Palm oil is high in both saturates (49%) and unsaturates (51%) but its saturates content is not classified with those found in animals. 
  • Palm oil is cholesterol free! 
  • Palm oil is increasingly being used by food manufacturers as a healthier substitute for trans-fat. 
  • Palm oil is rich in tocopherols and tocotrienols (precursor for vitamin E) and carotenes (pro-Vitamin A) 
  • Red Palm Oil - Saturates
  • Palm oil saturates and unsaturates separate into two layers at room temperature. The saturates are solid and unsaturates remain liquid on the top layer. 
  • Palm oil saturates are excellent for frying with lower tendency to oxidise. 
  • Palm oil is readily digestible and absorbed to be utilised as a source of energy. 
  • In a recent research, it was found that Palm oil did not contribute to a rise in body cholesterol but actually significantly reduced lipoprotein in the blood plasma of those who regularly used it as the main source of their dietary fat.

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