Health News: Superfood: Red Palm Fruit Oil

Hailed by Dr. Oz himself as a superfood, red palm fruit oil has the advantage of having both a neutral flavor and a high smoke point relative to other fruit and vegetable oils, which makes it great for cooking.

When shopping for red palm fruit oil, be sure to get raw oil with a vibrant red color—when palm oil is refined and processed, the red color disappears and its nutritional and health benefits go along with it. “Its natural red color comes from its high levels of beta carotene,” says Felicia Stoler, RD, a nutritional expert from the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (palmoilhealth.org). “In fact, red palm fruit oil contains 15 times more beta carotene than carrots and 30 times more than tomatoes … The vitamin E tocotrienols present in palm fruit oil are also associated with improved blood lipid profiles.”

Bruce Wylde, DHMHS, writes that although red palm oil is a fat, it protects against heart disease. Studies show that palm oil can reduce plaque buildup in arteries. We now know that plaque buildup is caused by inflammation in the endothelium (the arterial wall), and that antioxidants and anti-inflammatories are key to preventing that.

Sustainability is a big question with palm oil: on top of being a superfood, palm oil is also a good starting point for biodiesel. This sounds good (biodiesel!) but the reality has been mixed as palm oil plantations are threatening the habitat of critically endangered species like the orangutan and Sumatran tiger. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil is working with the Malaysian government (Malaysia is the second-largest producer of red palm oil) and the government has committed to preserve 50 percent of its total land area as forest. To buy sustainable palm oil, check for RSPO approval. Carotino is an RSPO-approved brand available in the US.