Health and Nutritional Benefits of Palm Oil

Palm Oil Seed, Palm Oil, Oil Palm

This is the fourth post in a series uncovering Palm Oil – what it is, where it comes from, how and where it’s used, the health benefits and the often-confusing controversy around the topic. Given that it’s so prevalent in the supply chain, it’s important to understand the impact of palm oil in order to make informed choices, for the environment, for social justice, and for your health. Learn more about the positive benefits of sustainably sourced palm oil by visiting   

Saturated fat, often demonized as being unhealthy, is finally making a comeback. The fear around saturated fat began in the 1950s with inaccurate data linking saturated fat/cholesterol with rising rates of heart disease. Despite the widely accepted idea that plant-based saturated fat leads to heart disease, there is a lack of evidence proving this, and quite a bit of evidence supporting the opposite. In fact, Recent research has shown, that eating saturated fat may actually be important for preventing heart disease. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature, and are more stable than unsaturated fats. Saturates tolerate higher temperatures during processing and for use in cooking. Recent studies show that plant-based saturates consumed in balance with Essential Omega 3 and 6 fats, serve as an important source of energy for the body and aid in the absorption of vitamins and minerals.

Changing the oils in your diet can be an important first step to improving your physical and mental state. Optimal health is achieved from a balanced intake of “good” fats, which primarily come from plant sources, and limited amount of “bad” fats, which primarily come from animal sources or hydrogenated oils. There is ample evidence that eating more healthy fats can improve heart, brain, skin and immune health, plus support healthy weight loss. Palm and coconut oil are significant contributors of saturated fat to the diet.  Predominantly used in the East, these oils, particularly coconut oil, are now gaining more attention in the Western world, in part due to the medium-chain triglyceride content which has been shown to exert positive metabolic effects.

Why Palm Oil

For generations, red palm oil has been revered as both a nutritious food and a valuable medicine. It was prized by the pharaohs of ancient Egypt as a sacred food. The oil was so highly valued it was entombed with the pharaohs so they would have access to it in the afterlife.

Red palm oil is the fresh oil that is obtained before refining. It contains a vast number of nutritional elements, such as vitamins, antioxidants, and other phytonutrients important for good health. Red palm oil is characterized by its intense beautiful reddish color. The color comes from carotenes such as beta-carotene and lycopene—the same nutrients that give tomatoes and carrots and other fruits and vegetables their rich red and orange colors. (Source: Bruce Fife, author of The Palm Oil Miracle)

Palm Oil is a rich source of healthy fatty acids and Red Palm Oil is the most concentrated source of antioxidants of any vegetable oil. There are studies, which show that carotenes and tocotrienols may help to reduce LDL cholesterol, protect against heart attacks and even combat some types of cancers.

Palm Oil and Red Palm Oil have a high melting point, which makes them suitable for cooking with high temperatures, for frying and baking. Furthermore, palm oil is good in salad dressings as well.

Most oils become rancid from exposure to heat, light, and oxygen. Red palm oil is naturally protected by its high levels of vitamin E antioxidants, and has a natural resistance to oxidation and rancidity. It can be safely used for cooking and baking at high temperatures.

Red Palm Oil Nutritional Benefits

According to a Smart Publications research report, “red palm oil has a higher bioavailability of antioxidant nutrients (proportion of nutrients that are usable by the body) than other vegetable sources and is a particularly important dietary oil for people who are not taking an excellent vitamin E supplement, with tocopherols and tocotrienols, and full-spectrum carotenoid nutritional supplement. It is considered the richest natural source of carotenoids with concentrations of 700- 1000 ppm. That’s 30 times more than is contained in carrots!”

The same research report also informs that “carotenoids are most stable and best absorbed in the presence of fat, which acts as the carrier. In addition to the beta-carotene, which accounts for 55% of the carotenoids in red palm oil, it contains several other carotenoids which have properties different from their pro-vitamin A activity. Alpha-carotene (35%), lycopene, phytoene, and zeta-carotenes are the other major constituent carotenoids in red palm oil. All of these carotenoids have shown impressive anti-cancer properties, and unlike synthetic beta-carotene supplements, red palm oil contains a natural mix of many carotenoids.”

When it comes to the Vitamin E contained in red palm oil, research shows that Vitamin E can help reduce LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, raise “good” HDL cholesterol, reduce risk of heart attack, rev up the immune system, fight cancer, and lower the risk of developing cataracts. Additionally, the antioxidants contained in red palm oil offer many benefits to skin and hair health, helping to protect skin cells from UV radiation and toxins.

Red palm oil is not hydrogenated, not processed with toxic solvents such as hexane, and contains no trans-fatty acids.

Selecting the right palm oil

Due to the widespread destruction caused by most palm oil production, it’s important to look for a palm oil and palm oil products that are grown organically. Look for the Palm Done Right Bug to be confident that the palm you’re buying is being grown for good.

To learn more about how palm oil is processed or how to use it for cooking or baking visit

Neil Blomquist has over 40 years of hands-on success building brands and companies in the natural products industry. Neil has practical experience in retailing, distribution, brand marketing, product sourcing, product development and organizational management. Formerly President and CEO of Spectrum Organic Products, Neil is the current Managing Director for Natural Habitats USA. Neil_Headshot[1]An expert in in the development and marketing of sustainable business solutions for natural products, Neil provides oversight of all business activities in the U.S. for the Natural Habitats Group. An expert in fats and oils as well as sustainable business practices, Neil is the spokesperson for Palm Done Right, an international campaign on a mission to change the conversation around palm oil and working to prove that palm can be grown for good.