Interesting Information: January 13, 2014
Red Palm Oil
I read a really interesting article on red palm oil a while back. Sometimes it takes me a while to act on information, and it took me about an hour to refind the article! I was shocked to realize I read it back in the spring–which shows you how backed up my blog information pile is.
“Red Palm Oil: A Healthy Fat with a Daily Dose of Vitamins,” Bruce Fife, N.D., Well Being Journal, May/June 2013, 8-13. (This journal has an url, but does not let you read articles for free.)
Anyway, a week or so ago, I bought a jar of the red palm oil.
Turns out that the shopping booklet that the Weston A. Price Foundation sends me every year lists this Nutiva brand under its “best” category.
First I tried it instead of olive oil when roasting some cauliflower. Hmmmmmm. Pretty color on this white veggie. Taste, and, Delicious! Buttery and warm with an intriguing red/gold color.
Next I tried it instead of butter over the top of a roasting chicken. Again, delicious!
So, what’s so good about this delicious, pretty fat besides the taste?
First, Fife writes that red palm oil has been a traditional part of the human diet in areas where oil palms have grown for “at least 5000 years.” These oil palms started in tropical Africa, but now are an important crop in Southeast Asia, West Africa, and South America.
Besides being used in food preparation, red palm oil is used as medicine. At the first sign of illness, one living where red palm oil is in the economy would down a cup of red palm oil. And, red palm oil in these regions is “regarded as essential in the diet for pregnant and nursing women in order to assure good health for the mother and child.”
Red palm oil supplies essential fatty acids, yes, but it is also “packed with an assortment of vitamins, antioxidants, and other phytonutrients important for good health.” The rich, deed red color comes from carotenes (like beta-carotene and lycopene)–which are also found in tomatoes and carrots. But red palm oil has “15 times more provitamin A carotenes than carrots and 300 times more than tomatoes”–all of which makes it an excellent prevention for Vitamin A deficiency, which causes, Fife reminds, blindness, weakened bones, lowered immunity, and degraded learning abilities and mental functions.
Carotenes in fruits and vegetables, writes Fife, “can supply the needed vitamin A if an adequate amount of fat is also consumed.” Voila! Red palm oil is the whole package of nutrients and needed fat. (And I would add that big strides have been made in the past two years towards recognizing how much humans need good fat sources to be healthy and towards restoring the role of good fats in recommended diets. Good fats are NOT the highly processed vegetable oils which are devoid of nutrients and the fat-soluble vitamins. Good fats are the animal fats, coconut and red palm oils, and properly processed olive oil.)
In addition to the carotenes, red palm oil “contains at least 20 other carotenes along with vitamin E, vitamin K, CoQ10, squalene, phytosterols, flavonoids, phenolic acids, and glycolipids.” Red palm oil is so full of good nutrients and fats that it is being encapsulated and sold as a vitamin supplement. Indeed, red palm oil is one of the richest natural sources of vitamin E.
Fife describes several studies–done with appropriate control groups–that show that red palm oil can stop heart disease and, for some, reverse it.
Fife writes that the antioxidants in red palm oil work to keep inflammation under control. As such it helps lower blood pressure and may serve as a “potent anticancer food.” It also protects “against neurological degeneration.”
Fife writes that red palm oil is excellent for cooking and baking–and my fledgling experiments begin to confirm its uses. The label on the bottle I bought said it was good for medium heat, so I would not use it for high heat searing. For that I use lard, tallow, or coconut oil.
So, I’m on board with adding this fat to my kitchen.
Besides, it’s just so darn pretty!