The title of this post, 5 Health Benefits of Red Palm Oil, really falls short of the vast amount of benefits one could list.
Red palm oil, in addition to its many culinary uses as a rich food high in nutrients, also has a long list of beneficial health and medicinal qualities. For the purposes of this article, though, we will concentrate on 5 of the most beneficial qualities it has.
Red palm oil is usually thought of as having originated in Africa but, in fact, it was revered and used in ancient Egypt as far back as 5,000 years ago. Beloved by Pharaohs as a sacred food, they prized the oil so highly that it was common to entomb Pharaohs with a bottle of palm oil – so they could have some in the afterlife.
Palm oil, for centuries has been (and still is now in modern times) produced primarily in the tropical belt of Africa, Southeast Asia and parts of Brazil. And it is a commonly used oil and food ingredient in those countries.
However, its use in the rest of the world as part of the commercial food industry is also widespread. This is because of its high oxidative stability (saturation) of refined food products when used for frying, as well as its comparatively lower cost to produce than most other oils.
There have been some major concerns about red palm oil, primarily the effects on the environment, because …
On the Downside of Red Palm Oil-
Palm oil production and export business is one of, if not the, primary profit centers for countries like Malaysia and Indonesia. This has led many such otherwise poor countries to engage in massive deforestation, out of seeming necessity. This rain forest deforestation has been, for far too long, an environmentally detrimental practice. Animal’s rights activists have decried this as a devastation. They point out the near extinction of the orangutans and other species who depend on rain forest habitats to survive.
Back to the Upsides of Red Palm Oil-
Fortunately, for the past decade, this problem is being addressed. Deforestation for the purposes of expanding the already vast palm oil plantations is being curtailed. We can thank companies like Cargill, with its affiliation with the non-profit organization, TFT (The Forest Trust). Working with the plantation owners, Palm Oil Sustainability Programs are being accepted and implemented throughout these regions.
So relax, okay? You can feel good, as you read on about the …
5 Health Benefits of Red Palm Oil
- Red Palm Oil is rich in antioxidants. Palm oil’s rich amber hues are referred to as carotenoids by scientists. They are a definitive indicator of the presence of antioxidant properties, which assists the human body in boosting the immune system and warding off diseases caused by cellular damage. Beta-carotene, which is a derivative of vitamin A, is credited by The American Palm Oil Council to be palm oil’s primary carotenoid antioxidant.
- High levels of Vitamin E. Vitamin E contains 8 anti-oxidants, the kind which provide excellent skin protection. This vitamin E found in red palm oil also works to inhibit “free radicals” which work to the detriment of your skin, and also helps prevent cancer and heart disease.
- Palm Oil delivers Vitamin K. The K vitamin is valuable as an agent to prevent excessive bleeding. Without vitamin K, the smallest cut in the skin could cause you to bleed to death. Vitamin K promotes blood clotting, thus closing wounds, and is also an important agent in the promotion of good blood flow throughout the body.
- Palm Oil’s “Good Guy Fats” fight off the “Bad Guy Fats”. For several generations, fats have taken a bad rap, considered to be unhealthy and to be avoided at all costs. But all fats are not created equal and evil. Saturated fats, yes – lead to high cholesterol and heart diseases. But monounsaturated fats are a healthy dietary fat. It is a necessary component for making energy-producing fatty acids that the body needs but cannot generate without nutritional assistance. The kind fats found in palm oil are good for you. One tablespoon of palm oil contains 13 grams – in practically equal proportions – of saturated and monounsaturated fats. So, while you are getting dosed with saturated fats, the monounsaturated “good guy fats” are cancelling out the detrimental effects of the “bad guy fats”.
- It is good brain food! The presence of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in red palm oil are extremely beneficial in promoting sharp mental capacities. This kind of fat (“polyunsaturated”) aids in cognitive and behavioral functions, as well as memory. While Omega-3 fatty acid fats represent the smallest percentage of fats contained in palm oil, the quantity is sufficient to have significant, positive impact on your brain. In addition, Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown through research to reduce the risk of developing arthritis, cancer, and heart disease.
I could go on, there are more, but those are generally considered as the 5 health benefits of red palm oil that are most responsible for placing it high on the list of good, healthy oil to use in your preparation of foods.
Rich and tasty red palm oil production always starts with the same essential beginning …
Whether using old traditional methods or the modern commercial methods, the process always begins by first harvesting the fruits of the palm trees. These “nuts” are then put through an extensive extraction procedure, to produce the oil. This is a precise, 5 step procedure (in modern, commercial method) which is done as follows:
- Sterilization. The palm nuts are steam-cooked for 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
- Threshing. Separating the hulls from the nut meat by spinning them in a centrifuge with holes in the outsides.
- Digestion. Releasing the palm oil from the fruit by breaking down the oil-bearing cells. The de-hulled nuts are elevated to the top of a “digester vessel”. This mechanism contains agitator shafts and a live steam heating system. Digestion’s purpose is to pulverize the oily cells, thus making it easier to extract the oil.
- Pressing: Once the material leaves the digestion vessels, it is pressed – producing a “slurry” consisting of approximately 40% water, 7% solids and 53% oil. Also produced is a “cake”, consisting of fiber and nuts. Pressing methods can be either wet or dry.
- Clarification, Purification, and Packaging: This final procedure is where the oil is separated from impurities – fine solids and water. It is done in settling tanks and three phase decanters. Then the recovered oil is fully purified in plate centrifuges and dried under a vacuum. Lastly, to produce the Extra Virgin Palm Oil, it is filtered once more. This is to remove any remaining particulate matter before being packaged in drums.
Red Palm Oil Made in the Centuries-Old Fashion-
If you are a small, private-owned palm oil farmer and producer, without the modern technology and machinery, your methods, while still essentially performing the same 5 steps, will look more like this video.
I hope you enjoyed discovering more about this marvelous and nutritious food, and how it is made. Certainly, the 5 Health Benefits of Red Palm Oil make it a worthy ingredient in your kitchen – especially if you enjoy, as we all do here at Ethnic Foods R Us, trying foods and recipes from cultures all over the world.
Want to get some red palm oil, but can’t find it locally? Just go to our online foods store to purchase some – Click Here.
Chow, y’all, come back often, and please leave a comment. I enjoy interacting with and engaging in discussion with our readers. Ask a question, offer a suggestion, whatever – it’s all good.
My Best Always, Your Friend,
Marvin D Wilson (“The Old Silly”)
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