Now that food manufacturers in the U.S. have to label their trans-fat content, some of them are switching to healthier oils like palm oil and coconut. I am happy to see this change for the better! I hope more grocery store products continue this trend.
Undoubtedly, there will be ignorant people who will cry out that palm oil is an unhealthy saturated fat. Like coconut oil, palm oil has been mislabeled as unhealthy for far too long, when it is actually is a very healthy saturated fat. Both oils have been staples in the diets of tropical people for thousands of years, and have helped people stay lean and healthy for centuries.
Like coconut oil, palm oil is great for baking and frying, and is very stable and solid at room temperature, so it does not require hydrogenation and contains no trans fatty acids. (Trans fat is the bad stuff that you want to avoid like the plague!) According to authors and researchers Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, PhD, of the Weston A. Price Foundation, “palm oil is a stable, healthy, natural fat composed of saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids.” (http://www.westonaprice.org)
It’s the second most used dietary oil in the world, behind soy oil, and much healthier for you than soy oil. It comes from a different palm tree than coconuts– a palm tree in Africa that produces small fruits that contain the palm oil. Palm oil is redish orange colored in it’s natural (unprocessed) state and a rich source of carotenes and and one of the best sources of vitamin E.
Unprocessed does have a bit of a strong taste that (for Americans) takes a little getting used to. (I use it when I cook fish, because my family doesn’t notice the small flavor difference with the strong fish flavor covering it.) Processed palm oil has the flavor removed, but so are some of the nutrients. But even then, it is still much better for you than soy or canola oil.
I think it is high time Americans see what most of the rest of the world already knows, that switching to palm and coconut oil is definitely a change for the better! So, look for products that contain non-hydrogenated coconut or palm oil, or better yet, make your own healthy snacks with these oils.