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There are hardly any oils that are reported on as much as palm oil and coconut oil. Both are surrounded by rumors and myths spread through the media and targeted marketing. Is palm oil carcinogenic? Is coconut oil healthy because it’s organic? Is the environment really under cultivation? Which information is proven by your knowledge and which is not, you will learn in this guest blog by Rosalie Marie Ahamer.
Attention: worth reading!
There are two types of palm oil, the palm oil from the fruits and the palm oil from the kernels. The raw materials grow on the oil palm in rainforests, mainly in Indonesia and Malaysia.
To produce palm oil, rainforests must be cleared because the huge demand for ever larger growing areas. As a result, endangered species die out and high levels of CO2 are emitted, which has a particularly severe impact on climate change.
With the following statement, I do not want to talk kindly about palm oil, but if the industry wants to continue to use the same amount of oil, palm oil is not the worst choice. You must keep in mind that the palm trees provide a very high quantity of oil and for the same amount of sunflower oil, for example, you would probably need double or triple the area of rainforest! However, mass production must still be slowed down, no question.
One solution would be that companies generally use less oil in production. No one NEEDS palm oil in his shower gel, washing detergent or candles because you can use alternative raw materials. Also, in the food industry, you can make significant savings on the products, which would inevitably lead to healthier foods with less fat.
In short: The cultivation of palm oil is immensely bad for the environment, but the production of other oils in these quantities would also not be environmentally friendly.
Coconut oil is extracted from coconuts that grow on palm trees in the rainforest, much like palm oil. The problem with rainforest clearing is the same here.
Are these oils healthy?
The answer is clearly NO!
To prove this point, I will first explain a bit of theory: Oil is made up of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, the saturated being the “bad guys,” because they greatly increase the risk of heart and circulatory disease (also called cardiovascular disease), and therefore, they should be avoided.
Palm oil consists of about 50% of these saturated fatty acids and coconut oil an unbelievable 90%! In comparison, healthy olive oil contains only 8% and rapeseed oil only 3% saturated fat.
Therefore, from a health point of view, both are bad. However, you should avoid coconut oil much more than palm oil. Coconut oil has also been shown to increase cholesterol levels with regular consumption, leading to the narrowing of the arteries. Narrow arteries, over a long period of time, can lead to strokes and other significant health problems. It makes no difference whether the coconut oil comes from organic or conventional cultivation.
The statement that palm oil is carcinogenic has been disseminated by the media and cannot be scientifically proven. There is a study that has found that in palm oil, larger amounts of 3-MCPD are present and this substance is carcinogenic. What the media does not know is that 3-MCPD is found in almost all oils, but in smaller quantities. So therefore, all the oils would be carcinogenic … And of course, that’s not the case. It’s all about how much of these oils you consume.
What can you do about it?
Palm oil is used in the industry not only for food, but also for cosmetics or detergents. The oil is so coveted because it has very good technological properties and is easy to process even in large quantities, so it is often used by companies for their products. In 2015, 60 million tons of palm oil were produced.
If you do not want to support the cultivation and use of palm oil, you can easily read the ingredients in your foods and not buy those that contain palm oil. Palm oil is also common in cosmetics. You can use the “Codecheck” app (we have already introduced the app in previous blog posts) and scan the barcode of your products. The app automatically shows you which ingredients are in it and if palm oil is included.
Coconut oil is rarely used in food, but many buy it and use it for cooking.
With this blog article I personally suggest giving up these two oils and to avoid them as much as possible. You would be doing the environment and your health a huge favor!
Disclaimer: The author of this article and the people behind Spross are not medical professionals. They base their information on carefully researched facts, but do not wish or intend to give medical advice.
About the guest bloger
Rosalie Marie Ahamer is 19 years old and lives in the district of Vöcklabruck in Upper Austria. In 2017, she completed her schooling with her Diploma and on her 18th birthday she opened a business called “Rosalie Marie Photography”. In addition to photography, she studies food technology and nutrition at the FH in Wels. Here, she learns a lot about an optimal diet that looks a little different for each individual. She is also learning about the production and packaging of food.