Online Exclusives

Red Palm Oil Goes Mainstream

By Joanna Cosgrove, Online Editor | February 18, 2013

An endorsement from Dr. Oz has catapulted red palm oil into one of the hottest dietary supplements of 2013.

Healthy oils are all the rage among health-conscious consumers, not just for cooking but for stand-alone consumption. First it was olive oil, then more recently, coconut oil. Then, following a testimonial by Dr. Oz on his eponymous television show, red palm oil almost instantly joined the healthy oil club.
A potent antioxidant that’s rich in phytonutrients, red palm oil has a long history of use as a healing food among ancient civilizations. “The main phytonutrients found in Red Palm Oil are tocotrienols (known as super vitamin E, it’s 40-60 times more potent than tocopherols), mixed carotenes (antioxidant and pro-vitamin A), phytosterols, plant squalene and Co-enzyme Q10,” explained Bryan See, regional product manager, Carotech Inc., Edison, NJ, makers of Carolein brand red palm oil. “There is no other edible oil that matches or has such unique combination of powerful phytonutrients. Scientific evidence (over 700 published papers) have shown that tocotrienols together with these natural phytonutrients (as a complex) concentrated from red palm oil contribute [many] unique health benefits.”
According to Mr. See, chief among red palm oil’s six most documented health benefits is heart health, as the oil maintains healthy blood cholesterol levels and arterial compliance. The oil also contains potent neuroprotective compounds that NIH-funded research found to be especially helpful as they relate to stroke-induced brain injuries. As a supplement, it has been linked to improving liver condition related to Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), enhancing immunity post vaccination.
Red palm oil is also credited with delivering nutrition to hair and skin. “Its superior antioxidants protect the skin from UV-light and may slow down the aging process,” Mr. See explained, noting that both tocotrienols and mixed carotenes show benefits on skin protection. “The body naturally and preferentially accumulates tocotrienols in the skin (stratum corneum of the skin).”
“Red palm oil, especially the cold pressed version, has high levels of naturally occurring tocopherols and tocotrienols,” echoed David Fondots, vice president of sales and marketing for Extracts & Ingredients Ltd. (E&I), division of MORRE-TEC Industries, Inc., Union, NJ, who also indicated other conditions for which red palm oil might be beneficial, including dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, arterial plaque build-up, and belly fat reduction.
Mr. See said the recommended daily-intake of Red Palm Oil is two tablespoons (about 28 grams) per day. “This is a significant amount and would be difficult to take this amount from foods daily,” he said. “Hence, the best way to have all the unique health benefits from the red palm oil is via dietary supplementation.”
Red palm oil supplements take the form of concentrated soft gels (with mixed tocotrienols and carotenes), palm tocotrienols complex soft gels and palm mixed carotenes soft gels.
One of the key issues associated with red palm oil is maintaining its stability to prevent rancidity and off-taste. While standard palm oil is devoid of phytonutrients, crude palm oil (unrefined palm oil) contains high levels of free fatty acids, moisture and impurities, and other odorous matter. The enzyme lipases of the crude oil will catalyze the breakdown of triglycerides to produce more free fatty acids in crude palm oil, causing rancidity during storage and transportation.
Carotech’s Carolein red palm oil is a refined red palm oil (with low free fatty acids, moisture and impurities and free of odorous matters) that is also enriched with tocotrienols and mixed carotenes complex.
E&I offers Cold Pressed Palm Oil, a butter-like, red/orange oil suitable for nutritional and topical applications.
Responsible Sustainability
Red palm oil is primarily produced in three regions: Peninsular Malaysia, Borneo and Indonesia—regions of diverse ecosystems. But its production and demand has come under fire from environmentalists and animal activists who’ve charged that the increased demand has led to “heinous ecological atrocities, including the systematic genocide of orangutans,” which are native to the forests of Borneo and Sumatra. In fact, Orangutan Outreach recently teamed with the Rainforest Action Network to encourage Dr. Oz to retract his endorsement of red palm oil.
E&I’s Mr. Fondots said his company’s Cold Pressed Red Palm Oil originates from sources certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO, an international non-profit association that brings together conservation groups and palm oil firms. “The RSPO will not certify palm oil grown on land that had been deforested to grow the crop,” he said.
Mr. See said Carotech strives to ensure only sustainably produced crude palm oil (virgin red palm oil) from plantations within Peninsular Malaysia is used in the production of its products. “These plantations are RSPO members committed to the Principles and Criteria of RSPO,” he said. “In Peninsular Malaysia, oil palm plantations are grown on existing crop lands which have been around for more than 20 years. Customers who buy red palm oil or dietary supplements made with phytonutrients extracts produced in Peninsular Malaysia can be assured that these products do not come from palm trees grown on new plantations or plantations from newly cleared rain forest.”
For details about Carolein from Carotech, click this link. For more information about E&I’s Cold Pressed Palm Oil, follow this link.