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Statistically, every second supermarket product contains palm oil. So, chocolate, pizza, French fries and Co. but also all cosmetics such as creams and lipstick as well as candles, detergents and cleaning agents are mostly made with this vegetable oil. Lately, however, there has been a lot of discussion about whether palm oil is he althy or not. Also, it's no longer a secret that the production of this oil is pretty bad for the environment, especially for the rainforest. It is being ruthlessly cleared for the cultivation of oil palms, thereby removing the habitat of many endangered animal species such as orangutans and tigers.
The current cultivation areas for palm oil are about a third of Germany
Is palm oil he althy?
Palm oil is obtained from the kernels of the oil palm. The largest cultivation areas are currently in Indonesia and Malaysia, but there are also large areas with palm oil plantations in South America and Africa. Palm oil is actually the most used vegetable oil in the world. It is not only used for all products, as mentioned above, but also more and more for the production of biofuel.
The fruits of the oil palm are very productive
A remarkable oil plant - the oil palm
Back to the question, how he althy is palm oil actually? The answer is: it depends! And as with other oils, it also depends on the processing. The refined palm oil, which is still called conventional, is unfortunately unhe althy. Doctors and consumer advocates have therefore been advising for years to minimize its consumption. Because the oil not only contains too many saturated fatty acids, but also other components that are suspected of being carcinogenic. Why is that?
Conventional palm oil should be avoided
Refined palm oil is heavily heated during processing and unhe althy substances such as 3-MCPD and glycidol fatty acid esters are produced. These substances then pass through the food, especially sauces, finished nut nougat cream and Margarines enter our digestive tract where they are further processed and have a toxic effect on many of our organs. In contrast, palm oil in its unrefined form is actually he althy.
Palm oil is not just palm oil
The so-called cold-pressed palm oil contains much more carotene than carrots and a significant amount of vitamin E. This means that this vegetable oil in its raw state is quite good for the human organism because it contains many antioxidants that provide good protection against free radicals bid.
Extra tip: You can recognize unrefined palm oil by its reddish colour, slightly sweet taste and pleasant aroma.
Look for good quality and avoid conventional finished products!
Palm oil, but sustainable please!
The good side of palm oil is that oil palms grow fairly quickly and are very productive. Therefore, compared to other oil crops, much more oil is extracted from the same area. This is why palm oil is so popular in industry. The problem is that the world demand for vegetable oil is increasing, and fast. The areas of palm oil plantations are constantly expanding. This means more and more deforestation, species extinction, displacement of indigenous peoples and global warming. When oil palms are cultivated conventionally, they cover enormous areas that are only occupied by a monoculture. This in turn leads to the use of more insecticides and pesticides as well as increased soil erosion and poverty. In addition, the so-called peat swamp forests in regions such as Borneo or Sumatra are being cleared and drained en masse, which leads to huge amounts of CO2 being released into the atmosphere.
Giving up palm oil altogether wouldn't be such a good idea, and according to the WWF, Greenpeace and other environmental experts, could lead to even more problems. Because then more and more cultivable land will be needed to produce other vegetable oils such as rapeseed, soybean or sunflower oil. So what to do?
Be well informed and responsible when shopping!
If you want to play it safe and protect both the environment and your he alth, you should only buy organic and fair trade. Especially when it comes to finished products. There is also the so-called RSPO logo, which is on products that are made with sustainably produced palm oil. Incidentally, RSPO stands for “Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil" - in English: the round table for sustainable palm oil and was brought to life by the WWF.
Fairly traded products ensure better working and social conditions for smallholders in developing countries
And here are a few more important tips:
So be responsible and consume consciously. Buy fresh, regional and seasonal goods and thereby reduce your CO2 footprint sustainably. Malaysian tigers and orangutans will definitely thank you.
Conventionally obtained palm oil is robbing orangutans of their homes
If possible, replace your conventional cosmetics with natural cosmetics
This also applies to make-up and especially to your lipstick