If you look at the labels of most of the food products that you currently have in your pantry, it is quite possible that, among its ingredients, you will find the Palm oil . And, without a doubt, we are facing one of the most used oils in the world, being very easy to find it in a great diversity of products that we eat every day. All this despite not being a very suitable option from a nutritional and medicinal point of view.
This oil is produced from the fruits of the African palm , a perennial plant that can reach more than 100 years and 40 meters in height, although due to its productive use the truth is that they usually do not reach up to 25 years and 12 meters in height.
Its fruits are grouped in a kind of drupe, which are covered by a waxy tissue, with a hard and round structure inside which we find an almond. From these fruits you get the one known as Palm oil .
Where do we find palm oil?
The truth is we can find palm oil in the composition of a very large variety of products (food and non-food). From a food point of view, the products where we can commonly distinguish the presence of this oil as one of its ingredients are the following:
- Pastries, cakes, cookies and cakes : especially in the case of industrial pastries as a substitute for hydrogenated fats and butter.
- Covers and creams : melting better than chocolate tends to be used to maintain and store creams and toppings.
- Spreadable products : it is common to find it in margarines or cocoa creams since it has a high content of Saturated fats tends to facilitate the spread.
- Precooked products : it is very common to find palm oil as an ingredient in a wide variety of precooked foods, from pizzas to fried potatoes or breaded foods. The reason is simple, in addition to being cheaper it tends to become less rancid.
- Appetizers and salty chips : especially because this oil tends to hold more chips than other fats.
Why is it so bad for health?
Despite its widespread use , being very common to find it in a wide variety of food products that are actually extremely diverse (from cookies to cakes, to precooked pizzas, cocoa creams or salty snacks), the reality is that from a nutritional point of view it is not a very healthy option .
The main reason is found in its high in saturated fats (specifically in long chain saturated fatty acids). In fact, around 50% of the fats present in palm oil are saturated. As many scientific studies have shown, prolonged and regular consumption of saturated fats have a negative influence on the increase in LDL cholesterol in the blood, which doubles the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
But we must not be alarmed, given that in fact palm oil can be harmful to our health we should consume food products made with it every day and in large quantities. If you do not want to continue consuming them, a good option is to look at the labeling of the products you buy from now, and analyze if palm oil is found in it.
Images | iStock / Mattie Hagedorn