Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

Tell Me More
Stay Connected
July 28 2009

Smart Fuel: Palm Oil

By Mark Sisson
125 Comments

Of the tropical oils, coconut gets the most attention, while palm oil gets mostly ignored. The virgin coconut oil has a fairly distinct flavor, but it’s one most people are familiar with, and it lends itself well to both sweet and savory dishes. Palm oil, especially the virgin red variety that gets all the attention for its positive health effects, also has a distinct flavor, but it’s one many people seem to dislike, probably because it’s so unfamiliar (in the US, at least; worldwide, palm oil is the most widely used cooking oil) to our palates. Scott Kustes had a guest post awhile back discussing the tropical oils, but I thought it would be good to give a short, comprehensive primer on the multiple varieties of palm oil.

Palm Oil

Palm oil is extracted from the flesh of the plum-sized palm fruit. In the better brands, the processing that goes into the extraction isn’t overly invasive, and people have been doing it in roughly the same manner (the scale of operations has changed, of course). The main steps, for both small and large operations:

  • Separation of individual fruits (palm fruits grow in bunches).
  • Softening up the flesh.
  • The pressing of the fruit.
  • The purification of the resultant oil.

Now, step four is where everything changes. If you want to make an ultra-refined product for shipping to the masses, you subject the raw oil to a purification process that renders the oil white and nearly flavorless. This highly-refined palm oil, as long as it hasn’t been hydrogenated (partially or otherwise), is a great choice for relatively high heat stir frying, but you will be losing some nutritional value (see Red Palm Oil below). Refined palm oil is about 50% saturated fat, 39% monounsaturated fat, and only around 11% polyunsaturated fat, making it stable for cooking (and storage) and semisolid at room temperature. Feel free to use this as a primary cooking oil.

Palm Kernel Oil

Palm kernel oil comes from the same fruit and the same tree, only this time the oil’s coming from the seeds of the plant – or the kernel. Health officials are quick to warn against excess consumption of palm kernel oil owing to its much higher saturated fat levels, which is usually our cue to do the exact opposite. Palm kernel oil is highly saturated (around 80% SFA, 15% MUFA, and 2.5% PUFA), making it fantastic for high heat cooking. It’s very similar to coconut oil. I haven’t tried it myself, and I can’t get word either way about the flavor, so I’m unclear as to how it differs from normal refined palm oil beyond the fatty acid profile. Anyone know?

Red Palm Oil

This is the virgin, unrefined stuff. Palm oil is naturally reddish, and it comes chock full of vitamins and antioxidants. When palm oil is highly refined, though, it loses its color and taste right along with the inarguably beneficial effects. Vitamin E (may help prevent LDL oxidation), betacarotenes (many more than carrots or tomatoes), and co-enzyme Q10 (a major participant in cellular respiration) are all in red palm oil. Furthermore, the vitamin E in red palm oil is made up of both tocotrienols and tocopherols; the vitamin E in most foods is mainly tocopherol, which may be less effective than the tocotrienols abounding in red palm oil. Red palm oil does have a strong taste – according to one Portuguese explorer, “It smells of violets, tastes like olives and has a colour that blends foods together like saffron, but even all this can’t sufficiently describe its special qualities.” A bit of hyperbole? Perhaps. But the point is that you don’t want to be mixing this stuff with just anything; you might, for example, try this West African dish employing red palm oil.

Most health food stores should carry palm oil, both refined and red, and I know that Whole Foods definitely carries both. If there’s no Whole Foods in your area, check out any local co-ops or the smaller health food shops. On the online front, Tropical Traditions makes a great virgin red palm oil that can be ordered.

I think red palm oil is worth having around. For regular sautéing (eggs, for example), butter would probably work just fine, but certain cuisines use a lot of palm oil, and it’s great having options. Plus, it’s an extremely shelf stable fat. Use liberally and with great gusto!

Lon&Queta Flickr Photo (CC)

Subscribe to the Newsletter

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

125 thoughts on “Smart Fuel: Palm Oil”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Thanks for this post.

    The only reason I hadn’t bought any was the huge price tag. This post pushed me over the fence 🙂

  2. I bought red palm oil cheaply on Ebay. They advertise it for parrots but its the same stuff and I am on my second liter now. I do all my saute cooking in it. Tocotrienols are usually derived from it and they will regrow hair in balding spots, among other health benefits.

    1. Gordon,

      I am going through a crisis now, where I lost half of my hair because of a combination of stress, and a mix of low carb, low fat diet. I know I was worng, and I am suffering the consequences. But your post said this red palm oi can regorw hair. My hair loss was all over, and I am still shedding. I am taking a mix of multi vitamins, biotin, flax seed oil now..but wouldn’t mind trying anything else that is recommended. I don’t have thyroid problems, I checked. My blood test showed than my health is optimum besides the very low cholestrol levels, both good and bad. I am a female and had an amazing shoulder length hair. Now my hair is litterally less than half. This started two months ago, and it slowed down a bit, but hasn;t stopped yet. I am trying not to stress about it, but I am really devastated. I am 5.6, I was 138 lbs, and now I am 128 lbs. That was my goal and am happy with my weight now, but not hair. Please elaborate a little on red palm oil helping hair regrowth if you any more info, or anyone else on this forum. Thanks.

      1. Renee,

        I red about tocotreinols regrowing hair on another site. They are abundant in red palm oil and it is used to supplement parrot’s diets to help them keep and restore feathers.
        I use a derivative called Toco Sorb from red palm oil and I believe it has filled in a balding patch on my head . I know that Mark has tocotreinols in his Damage Control Master Formula as well.

        Good Luck.

        1. Gordon,

          Thanks for your reply. I will dig more on the Damage Control Master Formula, as I haven’t seen it yet.

      2. Sorry to hear about your hair loss, I’ve heard iodine (sweet water) mixed with pure castor oil is used for hair growth.

      3. I am so sorry to hear about your hair loss – having gone through it myself, resulting in cutting off my lovely long haïr, i feel your pain.
        Its extremely non Marks Daily Apple friendly but I quit paleo and became a fruitarian. Now i am breastfeeding having gone through pregnancy mostly fruit-based, i am plain old mostly higher carb vegan…. my hair is growing in droves. Its done over an inch a month and i have so much regrowth i basically have bangs.
        (Its nothing to do with prenatal vitamins – i don’t do supplementation as i only beleive in whole foods)

        I personally would reccomend cutting out all the meat and fat as i used to be so committed to paleo and meat and lard and it got me nowhere.

      4. Renee, you might also try Great Lakes Gelatin, Collagen Hydrolysate (In the green can) utterly tasteless, I add it to my tea or smoothies. It is great for all kinds of things including hair! It was recommended to me by my nutritionist. Says on the can “The body’s natural ability to repair supporting connective tissue (bone, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, skin, hair and nails) diminishes in one’s mid-twenties. Collagen contains amino acids such as glycine, lysine and proline, which are important amino acids and can be used by the body to build connective tissue structures to support the functions of the cells…..supports the body’s natural healing.”

  3. Unfortunately, the Whole foods in my area haven’t carried palm oil in months =(. Lots of coconut, but no palm. I’ve wanted to try it for a long time too.

    In other news, I got TPB in the mail one day late for an annual convention I host, and spoke at about exercise and nutrition. I still spoke highly of Primal Blueprint in my speech (my number one recommendation for proper nutrition) but I didn’t have it in hand to show on camera! Oh well. Perhaps you would be interested in speaking next year Mark?

    thanks

    -Anthony

      1. I’m concerned about the sustainability of Palm Oil Products when rainforests and peatlands are being destroyed to plant Palm plantations, what are your views on this please?
        Thanks

  4. Mark, I know corn (as in popcorn) is a grain and is not part of the PB. However, I love popcorn and have every once in a while. What’s the best oil to use? I never eat microwave popcorn!

    1. LG, cook your popcorn in the microwave with no oil! All you need is popcorn kernels, paper lunch bag, and a staple if your microwave is metal proof or a piece of tape if it’s not.

      You’ll need between 1/4-1/3 cup of kernels, put them in the lunch bag, fix the top, microwave as you would for pre-packaged microwave popcorn.

        1. Agreed. I’ve stopped using all products containing Palm Oil because of the massive deforestation happening in developing countries.

          A great healthy alternative shouldn’t require animals to die just to turn a profit.

          http://orangutan.ca/

        2. As opposed to just killing and eating them directly?

          Anyway, the article mentioned above refers to Indonesian palm oil. I buy the local “Waew” brand, normally from Southern Thailand. However, there’s a current shortage (from hoarding because of the floods), so the Government has authorized imports (location not specified, but probably Malaysia).

      1. What about red palm oil sourced not for the Amazon but from small West African family farms – is that harming orangutans? Yes it is critical to know where the product is sourced. You should also not purchase red palm oil sourced in Malaysia by large agri-business conlomerates.

        1. Actually orangutans aren’t from the Amazon or Africa, they exclusively live in maritime Southeast Asia. If you want to avoid buying from farms which encroach on orangutan territory then that’s Indonesian and Malaysian farms.

    2. Popcorn popped in a combination of palm oil & coconut oil, then sprinkled with brewers yeast, a little bit of salt and a pinch of turmeric (it can get a little bitter if there’s too much) is a delicious snack and certainly qualifies as a healthy snack. (See Mark’s “Important Supplemental Foods” write up for more on Turmeric). Yumm!

  5. This may not be true – and so I would appreciate it if someone would correct my potential error – but my understanding is that palm oil extraction/farming is directly responsible for destruction of orangutan habitats.

    If true, then it is something worthy of consideration, IMO.

    1. Palm fruit has been planted in Asia to the detriment of wildlife but originally red palm fruit were from West Africa and I buy mine from there. It is easy to discern. The West African Palm oil is not processed.

    2. This is my understanding also. The devastation caused rainforest habitats for palm oil production is revolting. But like a lot of things in life it’s cheaper for corporation to produce in foriegn climates regardless of such farming practices impacts on the forest, it’s endangerd wildlife and in turn on our planet in general. To make matters worse once deforestation has occurred, the nutrients left in the soil are slim to none. Farm this land for a couple of years and it’s completely dead. How can the rainforest then be reestablished if it was the forest and it’s inhabitan that fed nutrients into the earth in the first place?

      It’s about making informed choices. Much like the choice as to whether to buy local or imported food stuffs, we all know local is the better choice and should do so as much as we can. Palm oil may hold health benefits but at what price? Grok surely didn’t have plam oil? And I’m sure we can live without it!

      I’ve listed a good website as a starting point for those who are intersted in the social, environmental and moral impact of palm oil production and the products that use it. It’s a Australian website, with regards to palm oils use in American products you may want to conduct you own search.

      Hope this helps.

      1. Not to exonerate any corporation, but I will point out that African soil is nearly barren in the first place because of the soil type and the frequent rainfall. It just washes nutrients into the water table. Slash and burn is not an invention of greedy businesses destroying the world for $$, it’s how many African tribes have lived for 1000s of years. Burning everything is the way to put fertilize the soil. Then you plant their a few years until it’s gone then you move on. You rotate like this and hopefully, the plants regrow by the time you come back to the same spot.

        1. The palm oil is from palm plantations grown in the Indonesian rainforest. Africa is not a big producer of palm oil. Soy is produced from the destruction of the rainforests in South America primarily.
          It would take many, many, many generations to grow another rainforest. And the wildlife, fauna and any benefits our rainforests may have existed for is long gone.
          Please stop the destruction of the world’s rainforest.

    3. i believe that is unsustainable practice. one is able to purchase organic sustainable products.

    4. I suggest anyone who wants to become more fully informed on the case for red palm oil read Bruce Fife’s “The Palm Oil Miracle.” A section of the book covers the myth (or not … you ultimately have to decide) about the ecological destruction wrought by palm oil plantations.

      Fife suggests that the idea is part of a disinformation campaign by the vegetable oil against tropical oils. If so it is a rather egregious case of the pot calling the kettle black, given the ecological destruction cause by soybean and other monocultural crop practices, which amount to topsoil mining.

      These appear to be the facts, more or less: (1) The percentage of Malaysia’s land devoted to agriculture is not out of line with the rest of the world; (2) a palm oil plantation ecosystem appears to be far more diverse, including being tolerant of large animals such as elephants and orangutangs wandering through, than almost any other crop’s.

      If you are still not convinced, you can order red palm oil manufactured in, e.g., West Africa or Columbia where traditional small-scale techniques are used.

      1. I agree with Geoff. If anyone wants to know about red palm oil, they should refer to Bruce Fife’s book on red palm oil. What happened to the blacklisting of Coconut oil, that it is saturated fat,thus bad for you is still very prevalent and everyone seems to be aware of the fact. With palm oil, there was a letter sent out to all the health food stores etc about how palm oil trees were devestating the planet. In Indonesia a huge percentage of there economy is based on palm oil. The palantations are not fenced and allow animals to roam freely. There are no pesticides applied. Why do we interefere with an economy because ‘propaganda’ has been sent out to convince us of something that perhaps is not a fact. Now everyone believes that the land is being used in an unsustainable way. What about the acers and acres of soy beans fenced, polluted and inhospitable. What if this was turned around and played back to the world how devastating soy beans were to North America. Lynda

        1. In some of the countries that farm red palm oil it is one of the few legitimate industries that save families from desperation and trafficking women and children. Not every culture has the luxury of choosing a cause, some just do what they can to give their children a future. Jobs can do that.

  6. I use the white palm oil for quite a while now and I can’t say anything bad about it, although it can be pricey…

  7. I had a bottle of spicy red palm/macadamia oil – I wish I could remember the name of the company that made it- so good. It was great for curries and West African/ Carribean inspired dishes. Will get more after reading this- nice to have a variety of cooking fats on hand.

  8. @LG

    Ironically I believe tropical oils were the original popcorn topping, until the saturated fat is evil/”vegetable” oil propaganda non sense started a few decades ago.

    So, I would go with coconut oil red palm kernel oil. I’ve used coconut oil myself on the rare occasion I eat any organic popcorn. I imagine melted grassfed butter would be a decent option as well.

    @Mark

    The convention is almost exactly 1 year away. My e-mail is Dream at The21Convention.com

    Shoot me an e-mail sometime, I would love to have you there! As for quick details, the third year of the event just wrapped up, over 100 people showed over the course of 4 days. The main demographic is college guys, but there are men in there 30’s and even 40’s at the event, as well as a few women.

    The main focus has always been dating and relationship advice for men, but I am always expanding the topics covered at the event, since as the host- and IMO- you can’t succeed in one area of your life and ignore others (health as a prime example!).

    A few of our speakers have been seen on national TV, including CNN, and most recently The Tyra Banks Show.

    Also, all footage of the event is in true HD, and released free TED style on our main site each year. Each speaker also has the option of releasing their footage on their own and using it however they wish.

    talk to you soon (actually I won’t have internet for the next day or 2, but soon enough)

    thanks

    -Anthony

  9. I noticed some people commenting on the relationship between palm oil and orangutan habitat, so I’d lke to clarify. Please keep in mind that 90% of the global supply comes from Indonesia and Malaysia.

    The palm oil industry is guilty of the most heinous ecological atrocities imaginable, including the systematic genocide of orangutans.

    The forests of Borneo and Sumatra are the only place where these gentle, intelligent creatures live, and the cultivation of palm oil has directly led to the brutal deaths of thousands of individuals as the industry has expanded into previously undisturbed areas of rainforest.

    When the forest is cleared, adult orangutans are typically shot on sight. These peaceful, sentient beings are beaten, burned, mutilated, tortured and often eaten. Babies are torn off their dying mothers so they can be sold on the black market as illegal pets to wealthy families who see them as status symbols of their own power and prestige. I’m not writing this to shock anyone. It has been documented time and again.

    Some of the luckier orangutans are confiscated and brought to sanctuaries such as the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rescue Center, which is home to around 650 orphaned and displaced orangutans in Central Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo). Many of these orangutans are only several weeks old when they arrive, and all of them are psychologically traumatized and desperate for their mothers– who were slaughtered right before their eyes.

    To learn more about the crisis facing wild orangutans because of palm oil and see how YOU can help protect them, please visit the Orangutan Outreach website: http://redapes.org

    Thank you for your time!

    Richard Zimmerman
    Director, Orangutan Outreach
    Reach out and save the orangutans!
    Adopt an orangutan today!

    1. Thank you for your comment, Richard. Of course, the environmental impact of our food choices is an important part of the equation for me and, I think, many MDA readers. Thanks for the info. I’ll be looking into it a little closer and I suggest readers do, too.

      1. And this is why I keep coming back to MDA…if the community is concerned or disagrees with something, dissent is welcomed, discussed, and encouraged.

        I’m going to keep away from Palm Oil, but I’ll be keeping with MDA!

    2. I’m with Richard on this one, having seen both the orangs and the *massive* palm oil plantations in Malaysia & Indonesia up close.

      As it’s difficult to differentiate between sustainably harvested and ecologically damaging palm oil, I avoid it entirely. (You’d be amazed at the number of non-food products employing some chemically tortured version of palm oil.)

      The idea of a sustainable source in Africa is intriguing, but I’m always wary about “sustainability” — it’s too easy to print up a pretty label to cover abuses 99.9% of your customers will never see.

      Coconut oil’s just fine for me!

      1. How sustainable is coconut oil one may ask and same goes for GMO canola, rapeseed, soy or even corn. How ever it may sound, Palm Oil is the world’s first certified sustainable vegetable oil.

    3. To a certain extent there has been some conflicts that has been encountered and oil palm plantations has been smeared with negative allegations through out the time. such allegations of orang utans are being killed and shot is totally absurd. as reported by certain NGOS without no evident proof doesnt carry any weight.
      The industry such as in Malaysia have created their fund for consrvation efforts for wildlife including orangutan, the wild cattle / Bornean Banteng, Bornean Elephant, Malayan Sun bear among others is never highlighted and not looked upon to. http://www.mpoc.org.my/Malaysian_Palm_Oil_Wildlife_Conservation_Fund_%28MPOWCF%29_.aspx
      Its not a perfect Industry, many policies are being made to produce palm oil sustainably. Palm oil is the driver of the Nations development especially for malaysia and Indonesia. Sustainable palm oil making its way and Palm oil is the world first sustainable vegetable oil, http://www.betterpalmoil.org/, compared to Rapeseed, Canola Oil and Soy which are comparatively lower in productivity and uses way much larger areas for production of oil and fats and creates extensive destruction and uses way much fertilizers with the mass agricultural farms and practices.
      Malaysia especially has their policy on conservation of wildlife through education to the managers ans staffs in oil palm plantations and any human-wildlife are reported to the Sabah Wildlife Rescue Unit established with the collaboration of the Sabah Wildlife Department and MPOC . http://www.mpoc.org.my/An_Introduction_to_the_Sabah_Wildlife_Department%E2%80%99s_Wildlife_Rescue_Unit_%28WRU%29_.aspx
      Malaysia still upkeeps its promise made during the world summit and still keeps a minimum of 50% fo its land mass under forest cover and Its doing way much better than the rest of the world, sad to say, compared to the developed world of US, EU and also Australia.
      Australians has many movements on anti plam oil campaigns but has forgotten that they have the highest mammal extinction in the world for the century. and this was not caused by palm oil.
      http://www.wwf.org.au/our_work/saving_the_natural_world/wildlife_and_habitats/threats_to_species/australias_responsibility_for_its_species/.
      At times, it even looks like its a market competition between the soft oil producer where all the smearing and bad-mouthing is done by the rivals, in this sense for the palm oil industry the rival is significantly soy, rapeseed, canola, maize and sunflower. nevertheless, The fact is that #Palmoil is here to stay for the global community’s food security.

      1. Is there any official consensus on whether it is better to totally boycott palm oil or whether to attempt to source “sustainable palm oil”?… and if so, how to be sure that we are buying palm oil that has no link to the rainforest devastation and orangutan slaughtering? I want to encourage local cafes etc to avoid bad palm oil, but they are asking me what to use instead as a shortener and I want to make sure I am encouraging the right thing. One local ice-cream producer for instance uses palm oil in their frozen cookie dough so that it is soft to bite into, but they are open to changing their ingredients and I am now un-sure what to suggest…

        1. I would say it is important to source sustainable palm oil because it is actually the most efficient oil to produce. It requires half the land of other vegetable oils to produce the same amount of product. We just need to do it sustainably. The round table for sustainable palm oil has a good write up on this.

          http://www.rspo.org/consumers/about-sustainable-palm-oil

        2. Nutiva sources theirs from Ecuador. No orangutans.
          Although if you ask me, bye bye orangutans. There are actual people living nasty short brutish lives and need the land.

  10. As in a previous post I advocate buying red palm oil from West Africa, where it originated, and where it supports the economic development of native peoples. This is the red palm oil one should buy and not processed oils at all.

    Some microwave popcorns do come with palm oil…just read the packages.

  11. Being naturally saturated, palm oil gets a bad rap. Manufacturers make use of it in “natural” peanut butter to keep it from separating.

    1. Yes. Thats true. being naturally saturated with a balanced portion of 50-50, its very stable at high temperature and through processing and thus Trans Fat Free which is a major health concern highlighted by FDA with reference to the processing and hydrogenation of other types of vegetable oil.

  12. This is a new source. This what they say. “Red palm oil is free of cholesterol and trans-fatty acids. Rich source of phytonutrients such as beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, vitamin E tocotrienols, lycopene, which act as a super-antioxidant.These carotenoids are responsible for the striking red colour of the oil.”
    site is at:
    http://www.rainforestredpalmoil.com

  13. I bought some red palm oil a while ago in the supermarket, but it is actually a blend of palm oil and canola oil. I’m not sure if I should use it now as I don’t hear anything good about canola.

  14. I’d kill an Orangutan in exchange for some red palm oil. Does anyone know where I can find an Orangutan in Toronto, Canada apart from the zoo? I would really like to try some red palm oil!

    1. you can substitute seal blubber and its quite cheap in the Northern territories.

  15. Original, orgainic “Paradise Oil” is my absolute favorite! The company, Jungle Products, makes about six different oils, and 3 of them are unique blends like Vanilla or African Spice… the original is a blend of macadamia, coconut, and red palm oils. It is expensive, so I don’t cook with it like I do my organic bacon fat and coconut oils, but instead use it for making salad dressing because it is liquid at room temperature.
    Unique fat makeup(grabbed a bottle from my kitchen and looked at the back):
    -14 g total (in 1 tbs)
    -7 g Saturated
    -8 g monounsaturated
    -O g polyunsaturated?

  16. I use red palm oil all the time. Along with pastured butter, it’s one of the most nutrient-dense fats. It does have a strong savory flavor, so I think of it as a combination of a fat and a flavoring. It goes really well in some dishes.

  17. I’m the lucky guy here, my wife’s from Gabon and prepares some dishes with the red palm oil (poulet nyembue or kassava leaves nyembue). At first I found the taste strange, but the more I it goes, the better it gets. The first time I tasted it, it was in Gabon and it was elefant trunc that was prepared with it. That was not so good, as the elefant trunc is quite special.
    My wife also brought unrefined palm kernel oil, which is not consumed as food but as a natural wound treatement (it has imho antiseptic and antiparasitic properties).

  18. As 90% of all palm oil comes from Indonesia and Malaysia it is extremely likley that any palm oil bought is directly linked to rainforest destruction and the death and cruetly of orangutans and numerous other species of animal.

    This website has more information and (warning) some graphic images.
    http://www.born-to-be-wild.org/html/palm_oil.html

    As consumers we must ask the companies if they know where their palm oil comes from and what they can do to ensure their supply is sustainable.

    Orangutans share 97% of our DNA and they have an estimated 10 years left in the wild.

    1. I will do without palm oil. Knowing that the destruction of the rainforests, the major source of the earth’s oxygen and the death of many animal species is necessary for our pleasure and lifestyle, I will change my ways. I will do without palm oil. I will probably live longer and be healthier having made that choice. Will others join me and find a way?

      1. The industry such as in Malaysia have created their fund for conservation efforts for wildlife including orangutan, the wild cattle / Bornean Banteng, Bornean Elephant, Malayan Sun bear among others is never highlighted and not looked upon to. http://www.mpoc.org.my/Malaysian_Palm_Oil_Wildlife_Conservation_Fund_%28MPOWCF%29_.aspx
        Its not a perfect Industry, many policies are being made to produce palm oil sustainably. Palm oil is the driver of the Nations development especially for malaysia and Indonesia. Sustainable palm oil making its way and Palm oil is the world first sustainable vegetable oil, http://www.betterpalmoil.org/, compared to Rapeseed, Canola Oil and Soy which are comparatively lower in productivity and uses way much larger areas for production of oil and fats and creates extensive destruction and uses way much fertilizers with the mass agricultural farms and practices.
        Malaysia especially has their policy on conservation of wildlife through education to the managers ans staffs in oil palm plantations and any human-wildlife are reported to the Sabah Wildlife Rescue Unit established with the collaboration of the Sabah Wildlife Department and MPOC . http://www.mpoc.org.my/An_Introduction_to_the_Sabah_Wildlife_Department%E2%80%99s_Wildlife_Rescue_Unit_%28WRU%29_.aspx
        Malaysia still upkeeps its promise made during the world summit and still keeps a minimum of 50% fo its land mass under forest cover and Its doing way much better than the rest of the world, sad to say, compared to the developed world of US, EU and also Australia.
        Australians has many movements on anti plam oil campaigns but has forgotten that they have the highest mammal extinction in the world for the century. and this was not caused by palm oil.
        http://www.wwf.org.au/our_work/saving_the_natural_world/wildlife_and_habitats/threats_to_species/australias_responsibility_for_its_species/.
        At times, it even looks like its a market competition between the soft oil producer where all the smearing and bad-mouthing is done by the rivals, in this sense for the palm oil industry the rival is significantly soy, rapeseed, canola, maize and sunflower. nevertheless, The fact is that #Palmoil is here to stay for the global community’s food security.

  19. I know Grok probably did not read but most of us CAN..and can pick up a jar and determone country of origin and know whether it came from Brazil, Africa, or somewhere else. Besides which the plantation oils are preocessed for cheao usage and not the kind we want.

  20. I only buy red palm oil that originates from West Africa. I have found only one such company that offers certified organic red palm oil from sustainable agriculture. From what I understand it is Fair Trade certified as well. No Orangutan problems in West Africa nor destruction of the rainforest. The organic certification is under Ecocert which is the European standard that is more stringent than the USDA standard.

    Some websites offer red palm oil from South America or African palm oil that has been traditionally produced but from what I have experienced and been educated on they are sub par tasting oils. You will either get a bland tasting oil that smells funny or a badly produced and dirty red palm oil. So far the best red palm oil is from http://www.rainforestredpalmoil.com

    Their oil is phenomenal. Very tasty! I use it in various recipes as a substitute for oil but I have always consumed it as a health supplement. One tablespoon a day is all you need. It gives you a natural boost of energy. I have also been cold/flu free for more than 3 years. Research states that it has the highest content of vitamin A in natures, vitamin E, and super antioxidants. I have asked my local Whole Foods to contact them as well.

  21. I know I’m a little late with my comment, but I’m wondering why they use palm oil a lot in fast food chains if its that expensive.

    Do they use an other kind than the healthy one recommended here?

    (BTW, my info about fast food chains using palm oil comes from a documentary on palm oil available on Youtube).

    1. Palm oil is one of the cheapest oil in the market but the price difference may be due to the fact that theres 2 types of palm oil. Palm Oelin which is generally yellowish and the Palm Kernel Oil which is the Red Oil. both go through different processing method in the preparation. the price could be higher if the oil is blended with other types of soft oil to maintain stability or to withstand cold temperature.

  22. Sebastien,

    the cheap stuff is not palm oil but palm kernel oil. Even if it is a bit more expensive than shortening (hydrogenated oil) it has it advantages, it’s more stable so it can be used longer, less oil changes, less labour cost. But I suppose it depends more on the company than anything else, AFAIK in Europe McDonalds uses rapeseed oil (canola). In Belgium the real “friteries” use beef tallow. So it depends.

  23. How does the palm oil help hair grow? Do you eat it, if so how much? Do you rub it on your head and scalp?
    What else can I eat or take to help my hair grow?

    1. You can take biotin to make your hair grow.(Hair stylist for 10yr)

  24. My hair needs help. How do you use the red palm oil to help hair grow? If you take it, how much do you take per day? Do you rub it on your hair and scalp?
    Any supplements you take that help?

    1. You should try Tropical Traditions coconut hair oil. Really good for hair and scalp.

  25. Mark – PLEASE stop promoting the use of palm oil – this has been commented on several times by people who are clearly more educated than myself…i’m quite upset that you are still running with this as an acceptable product!!

    please put out a “daily apple” condeming the use of this product that is single handedly making a beautiful species extinct.

    you wield a huge power over your readers – people TRUST you and believe in you – use your power for the good of the environment and let all your readers know that palm oil should be;

    OFF THE MENU!!

    thanks

  26. Good lord, why don’t you guys just read the entire post and click the link he provided to Tropical Traditions before you attack Mark for contributing to monkey genocide. Their page clearly states:

    “Tropical Traditions Virgin Palm Oil comes from West Africa, NOT South East Asia. Our Virgin Palm Oil is produced by small-scale family producers in Africa that are certified organic. When you purchase Tropical Traditions Virgin Palm Oil, you are supporting small scale family producers in Africa, and NOT large corporate plantations in South East Asia.”

    There you have it. A source for this fine oil from a company with a spotless reputation for honesty, integrity, quality, and environmental stewardship.

    Calm down, buy the oil, and put the real monkey killers out of business.

    1. Its not about putting the Big conglomerates out of business but more of sustainable sourcing and production to feed the local employees and small holder farmers, elevating the developing nation and thus feeding the whole planet. Lets not make up your mind just by the information you’re feed in. You have heard from the other party. The Malaysians and Indonesians should be given a chance to develop and elevate from poverty and still keep the treasured forests.

    1. Spectrum Naturals Shortening – yes – I was wondering that as well. Anyone on a low budget has to read posts like this with an eye to finding the cheapest solution to take advantage of the MDA recommendation. Most of the time it’s ridiculous, as virgin oils of any kind, coconut or whatever are not cheap. I currently use Louanna refined coconut oil as my cooking staple. Not ideal – but that’s the ONLY relatively cheap coconut oil anywhere. So what about the Spectrum Naturals Shortening? Any ideas?

      1. I have Spectrum Shortening, too, so I’m curious.
        As for cheap unrefined coconut oil, if any stores in your area sell “Tree of Life” brand, I’ve found that for $5.99 at my local healthfood store. Also, Amazon sells Nutiva for around $11/2 jars.

        1. Nutrition label on the Spectrum Shortening says: 6g SFA, 2g PUFA and 5g MUFA, so I presume the outlook isn’t good…?
          Meanwhile the Louanna coconut oil says 12g SFA, 0g PUFA and 1g MUFA.

  27. Didn’t realise how fortunate I was to live in South London as all the African shops sell palm oil and its the orange stuff too. As well as that I have sourced coconut oil, almond oil, coconut, cassava, yam, and almond flours as well as a load of other flours which are gluten free and that I have never heard of (melon seed flour for instance!!). Lots of West African people are living in South London and their cuisine is well worth checking out I think.

  28. Hi all,

    I’ve just bought and tried unrefined red palm oil from Ghana (according to label).

    Peculiar smell (saffron-y, I’d say), semisolid at room temperature, gives red colour to food, very stable while cooking and very tasty.

    I paid 2 pounds for 500 ml. That is all but expensive, in my opinion.

    In fact, I think it’s so cheap it’s almost too good to be truly something great (my reference point is always extra-virgin olive oil). Don’t you think so?

  29. hmm it think the issue of over using habitat is important. but plam oil is one product where i notice a real difference in how i feel. so im not going to stop using it. however in the above it is interesting to note that a lot of hte misuse may come from fast food outlets. i make all my own food at home. i will look into buying the African one. thanks.

  30. There are reliable sources of sustainable palm oil
    Check out our website

    http://www.nbpol.com.pg

    Based in Papua New Guinea, New Britain Palm Oil Ltd produces about 17% of the global supply of fully sustainable palm oil.

    The World Economic Forum in 2011 named NBPOL as a “world sustainability champion”

    http://www.nbpol.com.pg/?p=832

    Palm oil from the right sources can be used with a clear conscience

    Enjoy!

  31. Amylee, There are some excellent medications for the symptoms you are exhibiting, Zoloft comes to mind. It’s easy to be a childish, inappropriate nutcase online but you should get help before someone in real life takes serious offense.

  32. That’s a really interesting article, I actually own 2 farms in Thailand growing palm oil. The tree takes 3 years to mature and we will start harvesting later this year (2012). Our plan was always to send the product to a local dealer in its raw form where the oils is extracted and then sold on to the food and Biodiesel industries. Maybe I will look further at the Virgin palm oil market. Currently I use Olive oil mainly which can get expensive over here.

  33. The article says that they collect the palm fruit to make the oil.
    Why would they chop down the trees that give them fruit?
    That would be like chopping down an apple tree to get the apples.

    The deforestation scare doesn’t make sense.

    1. Mark, the issue is that native vegetation (and orangutan habitat) is being cleared in order to make room for palm plantations.

      It is correct that palm trees are not being cut down to collect the oil. It’s what happens in order to create the non-native plantation crop.

  34. For those looking for another supplier of red palm oil, check out Wilderness Family Naturals (wildernessfamilynaturals.com). Their source is from a company which belongs to an organization called Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. See http://bit.ly/WFN-palm-oil-source for more information.

    An interesting aspect of WFN’s red palm oil is that the heaviest fatty acids have been substantially separated out. So some of the longer chain saturated fats present in unrefined red palm oil are missing here. The resulting composition is 36% SFs, 49% MUFs, and 14% PUFs (linoleic acid). Not a good thing on the face of it, right?

    And now for the rest of the story: The resulting product is a still more concentrated source of carotenoids, tocopherols, tocotrienols and CoQ10, because the fatty acids removed had very little of these nutrients. I can personally attest that the oil has a mild, pleasant, slightly earthy taste. I make sure a take a tablespoon of the stuff on days (most) when I do not work it into a recipe.

    The fatty acid profile is similar to olive oil, so it has a long shelf life. I can get good saturated fats from plenty of foods. For vitamin E family, etc., red palm oil is practically unique.

  35. Deforestation is the first step – anywhere. The primary reason is the international demand for wood. Much of the deforested area is subsequently never converted to oil palm. To protect the Orangutan and the forests, the primary target should be the demand for tropical wood. New land does not need to be cleared for oil palm in the Asia-Pacific region. There is plenty of land where the timber was taken away and the promised oil palm plantations never eventuated.

    If you want to take effective action now – boycott this year’s Olympic Games or other regular regular global economic events that are predicated on a new round of building activity.

  36. Don’t spend $25 on a jar that small. That is a rip off. My family is from Ghana and I was raised on Palm Oil. I’ve been eating Palm Oil back in the 80’s when American dieticians said tropical oils had “too much” cholesterol and fat.

    You can go to an African Market and get a gallon for $20…probably less

    If you don’t live in an area that is populated with a lot of West Africans. You can probably google some Ghanaian grocery stores.warehouses in NYC

    If they are charging this much just for palm oil I am sure they are beating people over the head.

    Speaking of heads I have never heard of people using palm oil for their hair but when my daughter was an infant I used coconut oil and almond oil for her hair.

    You have to wash out the coconut oil after you leave it in but you can leave the almond oil in your hair with no problem

  37. So if you have family memebers allergic to coconut Is this Red Palm Oil the next best thing to use for cooking or should I stick with a Palm Kernel Oil.

  38. Tracking cals on a calorie restricted paleo diet. I’ve noticed I rarely get enough Vit. E. Just ordered some red palm oil from West African source. Just a teaspoon a day almost doubles my “typical” Vit E intake (and it has several types of E).

  39. This is fantastic news. Palm-oil is something I like to cook with, but I reduced my use of frying plantain and cooking baked-beans in the remaining oil (for breakfast)do to a suspicion that it may not be the best way to fuel an empty stomach. Of course this is not a practice I stopped, just reduced. Now I will begin to increase my consumption of full English breakfast (minus bacon) with fried plantain, all cooked with palm oil. We get our palm-oil from South Asian delis in an area that has a significant Afro-Caribbean community.

    Yes!

  40. I live in West Africa (Sierra Leone). Here we do not press the fruit to extract the oil. we beat the fruit in what resembles a large wooden mortar and pestle. we then boil the fruit it in a pot on a fire for a long time. In the end, its not a raw oil but it does retain its red coloration. Would this still be considered a healthy oil?

  41. I have a recommendation for y’all…
    If you want to try a most delicious red palm oil with a delicate flavor that could replace butter in some instances try Tropical Traditions. I was really skeptical that I would like this oil but I put it on steamed veggies and YUM ! It’s not cheap, but you get what you pay for here: http://www.tropicaltraditions.com/red_palm_oil.htm

  42. Tropical Traditions might be a great pure red palm oil site and sells one of the best quality coconut oils too without harming the forrest or it’s inhabitants ! Don’t quote me on it but check out their website. I just started using coconut oil (Trader Joe’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil).

    I’ve hesitated because I’m not a coconut person and my husband has food allergies and one of them happens to be a coconut. He’s actually shown npo reaction to coconut oil as oppose to the actual raw coconut itself which gives him tremendous stomach pain. This coconut oil has a neutral taste so that’s a plus,although I know refined oils aren’t that good for you as their pure, raw counterparts.

    I’m curious to try red palm oil but am iffy about it because people say it has a strong taste and so I’m not sure how much use I can get out of that expensive oil if it’s steong raste renders it useless foe most regular dishes unless you cook something exotic all of the time.

  43. Hi everyone,
    I want to know if palm fruit oil has a sweet flavor?
    I want to try the oil because it sounds good.
    But I don’t want my dishes to turn out sweet!!
    Thank you!!

  44. I buy “Sunshine Factor” which is USDA certified organic red palm fruit oil. Also, not involved with the decimation of rainforests or orangutans. See quote below:

    “The palm oil used is grown on long established farms in Brazil, and is not harvested in tropical forests in Malaysia, Indonesia or Africa (where the process of palm oil collection is causing environmental damage). The farms used are members of Northern Plains Sustainable Agricultural Society and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). They are also certified by TransFair as a Fair Trade program, where workers are paid a fair wage.”

  45. I’m of West African descent, and I grew up with red palm oil, so I’m used to the taste. God, it’s delicious. One of my favourite paleo-friendly ways to eat it is boiling up a plantain, mashing it, and mix it with 1-2 tbsp of red palm oil and salt to taste. Such an awesome comfort food. I think I might go and make it right now. lol

    1. Email me at mercyiff@yahoo.com if you need red palm oil. I have original African red palm oil at different sizes and prices. You can also visit our site at mercyiff.com. The site is under construction, you cannot order from there yet but you will see palm oil and other African nutritious food there. But if you email me, I will let you know how you can order palm oil from my store.
      Thanks
      May

  46. I just bought two kinds of palm oil from a local African grocery store. One was called golden palm oil which was very red but appeared to have most of the solids removed and the other was unrefined red palm oil. I have been avoiding trying palm oil because of all the talk about how it tastes strong, isn’t very tasty, etc. Maybe my bar was set low, but I was pleasantly surprised by both of these palm oils. I just made the simplest dish and it was SO tasty. Chicken thighs cut into pieces, lots of cauliflower cut into small florets, a tablespoon of tomato paste, all fried in a couple tablespoons of red palm oil. Salt to taste. Delicious!

    I also had some leftover baked freshwater bass that I chopped up into pieces and fried in palm oil and threw on top of a salad. Pretty darn tasty.

    I’m glad to have this amazing oil to add to my arsenal, especially given it’s high carotenoid and vitamin E content. Don’t be afraid to try it if you’re on the fence, it’s good stuff.

  47. Be careful everyone saying that popcorn is a healthy snack. I believe ALL corn contains GMOs? Someone correct me if I’m wrong!

  48. Mark, I was able to find my rpo on Amazon- a good dark red one from West Africa. Sure, it was a bit pricey. But I saved money buying the large size (so glad I DO like it, as it was an expensive gamble)… After some Dr. Oz show, it became quite popular- my local health food store and Tropical Traditions had sold out. Amazon worked though!
    As for taste, I’m finding it’s pretty tolerable (tasty, even) in dishes with plenty of spice and garlic. It can turn food orange, but the addition of curry, paprika, or tomato paste can make the color seem more natural…

  49. I was born and grew up on the island of Borneo. I remembered well back in the 70s where i ran around and pluck wild veges from the rainforest to eat, across my home. Then the loggers started looting, mercedes cars swarm in with these timber tycoons…soon rainforests no more…
    I recall how wonderful it was, watching the afternoon rain drenching the leaves of the tall, tall green trees, and at dusk, so many sounds of various insects….and the fragrance of jasmine….
    Please, never will i consider my own wellbeing separate to nature…
    So first do no harm…

  50. Palm kernel oil is brownish in color, and is great for frying fish. It has the smell of roasted coconut–yummy!

  51. I wonder how many people you have inspired to use palm oil.
    First: Palm oil is produced from palm plantations grown in the areas of Indonesia where the rainforest has been growing for hundreds of thousands of years. This land is rich with minerals and resources, extraordinary plant and animal life.
    To produce palm oil, the land is ravaged, burned and devastated. In this environment thousands of acres of palm trees are planted. Tribal people are displaced and the world’s consumers get fat and happy from the fat produced on these fields caused by destruction. Are you happy yet?
    Second: Since we have stopped using anything containing palm oil (soaps, toothpaste, lotions, sauces, baked goods, margarines,etc…..) my husband and I have been happy to use coconut oil and grapeseed oil for cooking if needed. We use much less oil (fat) and have each lost 10-15 lbs. – without even trying. Try it.
    Please stop destruction of the rainforests and the life within!
    When it is gone it is gone forever.

  52. I hope that everyone realises that palm oil is grown mainly on Indoesian and Malaysian plantations that have been set up on cleared rainforest land, causing endangered orangutan habitats to be wiped out. Say no to plam oil from plantations, choose coconut oil as a much more sustainable option.

  53. The best Red Palm Oil (RPO) on the planet. Harvested from wild palms, hand extracted by local, women owned cooperatives, and simply wonderful flavor and aroma. I’ve used many different brands of RPO and have stuck with this one.
    http://www.organicsoverseas.com/

  54. Red palm oil is among the best type of edible oil. I’m from east Nigeria, where we have native wild red palm oil trees everywhere that have not undergo any biotechnological engineering. They are simply natural! And the red palm oil gotten from them remains liquid at room temperature unlike the engineered ones. For supply contact me. ozispesal (at) gmail.com

  55. palm oil is far better than vegetable oil and i have been using it often in most of my dishes

  56. Oh my! My mom bought this jar of oven-dried Roma tomatoes, packed in oil, at Costco. Since I’m a huge fan of tomato sauces, I tried some and I loved it! I was a little suspicious of all the bright red oil the tomatoes contained though. However, I didn’t get a nasty feeling like I usually do when I eat processed fats. I looked at the label and the second ingredients to the tomatoes were extra virgin olive oil and something called palm oil? It sounded like an unhealthy vegetable oil to me, so afterwards when I ate the tomatoes I tried to avoid the oil. I’m so happy palm oil IS healthy, and that a quality jar of delicious tomatoes, EVOO and red palm oil can be found at Costco!
    Being Chinese, my family frequently buys cold prepared foods at the Asian market. Some of these are really great; there’s beef tripe, pork and chicken liver, chicken hearts, jellyfish, beef tendon, you name it. But they often come in a spicy bright red oil. I always avoided the oil, thinking it some processed soybean oil junk. But maybe it’s palm oil as well?

  57. Where I live, Red Palm Oil is cheaper than butter. Definitely trying this out.

  58. Nutiva Red Palm Oil is from Ecuador (no orangutans) sustainably raised on small family farms, and not too expensive.

  59. Its not a perfect Industry, many policies are being made to produce palm oil sustainably. Palm oil is the driver of the Nations development especially for Malaysia and Indonesia. Sustainable palm oil making its way and Palm oil is the world first sustainable vegetable oil, http://www.betterpalmoil.org/, compared to Rapeseed, Canola Oil and Soy which are comparatively lower in productivity and uses way much larger areas for production of oil and fats and creates extensive destruction and uses way much fertilizers with the mass agricultural farms and practices.
    Malaysia especially has their policy on conservation of wildlife through education to the managers ans staffs in oil palm plantations and any human-wildlife are reported to the Sabah Wildlife Rescue Unit established with the collaboration of the Sabah Wildlife Department and MPOC . http://www.mpoc.org.my/An_Introduction_to_the_Sabah_Wildlife_Department%E2%80%99s_Wildlife_Rescue_Unit_%28WRU%29_.aspx
    Malaysia still upkeeps its promise made during the world summit and still keeps a minimum of 50% fo its land mass under forest cover and Its doing way much better than the rest of the world, sad to say, compared to the developed world of US, EU and also Australia.
    Australians has many movements on anti plam oil campaigns but has forgotten that they have the highest mammal extinction in the world for the century. and this was not caused by palm oil.
    http://www.wwf.org.au/our_work/saving_the_natural_world/wildlife_and_habitats/threats_to_species/australias_responsibility_for_its_species/.
    At times, it even looks like its a market competition between the soft oil producer where all the smearing and bad-mouthing is done by the rivals, in this sense for the palm oil industry the rival is significantly soy, rapeseed, canola, maize and sunflower. nevertheless, The fact is that #Palmoil is here to stay for the global community’s food security.

  60. Thanks for sharing this info about the differences between palm oils. I don’t live near any good health food shops, only near ethnic markets. There’s tons of palm oil, but the labeling is not that good. I have been confused as to which one to buy, but it sounds as though I can look for a red-colored palm oil. I have been wanting to try it for quite some time.

  61. “Of the tropical oils, coconut gets the most attention, while palm oil gets mostly ignored.”

    Mark,

    IMO this is because of a couple of things. For one, coconut is more familiar to people than palm fruit (at least, at non-tropical latitiudes).

    For another, coconut oil is delicious, and by comparison palm oil is a poor substitute. For both texture and flavor coconut oil is wonderful and palm oil is, for lack of a better word, yucky by comparison.

  62. OMT,

    IMO unrefined red palm oil tastes kind of like pumpkin.

  63. It is true that nature is important, but, it is also true that the amount of vegetable oil that can be extracted from palm oil fruits is the highest among all other oil plant , eg.canola, corn, rapeseed and etc.

    this mean that relatively, palm oil need less land mass to produce the same amount of oil as others.

    from the site “http://www.forumpalmoel.org/en/ueber-palmoel.html”, it is mentioned that :
    “Of the oil plants the oil palm has by far the highest yield, at an average of 3.69 tonnes per hectare (t/ha); its yield is FIVE times higher than that of soya (0.77 t/ha), FOUR times higher than sunflowers (0.86 t/ha) and THREE times higher than rapeseed (1.33 t/ha). ”

    how much of land mass do you think that is needed for sunflowers, soya or rapeseed need to produce the same amount of vegetable oil as compared to palm oil?
    does the production of sunflowers oil, soya oil and rapeseed oil destroy more forest or land than palm oil?
    why there isn’t anyone talk or discuss about forest destruction caused by these oil production?

    to me , it is just a marketing strategy.

    i had been pressing my own palm fruits in to raw palm oil and using it for cooking and spreading it on my bread for breakfast, enjoying its nutrition.
    i am glad that i had abundance access to palm oil around me and benefiting from it.

    my father owns about 7 acres of land planted with palm oil trees and it produces at least 4 tonnes of raw fruits per month and we had been harvesting it for more than 25 years.
    i lived in West Malaysia and we do not have Orang Utan in West Malaysia.