An Exceptionally Good Fat


The Palm Oil Miracle
An Exceptionally Good Fat
Asmat, age 9, like many children living on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. Earthquakes, flooding and tsunamis that devastated the area in recent years have made life in his village difficult. When the sun goes down, Asmat is afraid to step outside his home. At night, he is in total darkness. Asmat suffers from night blindness caused by a vitamin A deficiency. Without sufficient light, he is totally blind. If caught outside when night falls, he could wander aimlessly - a terrifying experience to a child.

Night blindness is so common in many areas of Indonesia that the people have a special name for it; buta ayan, which means "chicken eyes". The name comes from the fact that chickens are unable to see at night. Mothers seeing their children wandering about, stumbling, and falling because they can't see is heartbreaking. When the sun goes down, many children just sit on the ground like chickens throughout the night waiting for sunlight to reappear.

Like other children in the village, Asmat has difficulty in school. Vitamin A deficiency has affected not only his ability to see but to learn as well. Other symptoms include anemia, growth retardation, painful joints, weakened teeth, hyperkeratosis (hard white lumps on the skin), and low immunity resulting in frequent illness.

Vitamin A deficiency is the major cause of childhood blindness in the world, destroying the vision of a quarter of a million preschool children each year in Asia alone. It is estimated that more than 5 million children worldwide are affected by vitamin A deficiency.

In order to stop this disease, governments have initiated nutritional programs with varying degrees of success. One of the difficulties in treating this disease is that food sources of vitamin A are generally expensive and vitamins are beyond the financial means of many. Unrefined or red palm oil is now being used with great success in reversing this devastating disease. The oil is relatively inexpensive and can even be produced locally in many of the affected areas. It is used in cooking, replacing other oils with essentially no extra expense.

How does red palm oil correct vitamin A deficiency? Red palm oil contains a rich source of beta-carotene, which the body can convert into vitamin A. As a result, Asmat and other children like him are given a second chance at life. Blindness is stopped, growth rates increase, bones and teeth become strong, illness is less frequent, and learning improves. All these benefits occur without changing the diet in any appreciable way except to add red palm oil.

The benefits of using red palm oil extend beyond just supplying a source of vitamin A. It also improves the body's ability to absorb other fat-soluble nutrients such as vitamins D, E and K and improves the body's ability to absorb important minerals such as calcium and magnesium, all of which are essential for normal growth and development and overall good health. Because of the success of pilot programs like the one that saved Asmat, palm oil is being used in many countries around the world to fight malnutrition.

Even in countries where vitamin A deficiency is not considered a major health problem, like in the United States, palm oil is finding a place as part of nutritionally improved dietary programs in schools. Schools seeking to provide children healthier meals are cutting back on sweets, sodas, and foods fried in hydrogenated vegetable oils. Schools are providing children with more fresh fruit and healthier beverages, and are cooking in trans fat-free palm oil. The biggest problem with the hydrogenated vegetable oils used in restaurants and schools is that they contain harmful trans fatty acids. With medical authorities now encouraging us to avoid hydrogenated vegetable oils, food manufacturers and schools are looking for healthier alternatives. Palm oil provides a perfect solution.

In the wake of an increased awareness over child obesity and diabetes, school districts are retooling lunch programs, hoping to boost nutrition while meeting tight budgets. Troy School District in Michigan, for example, has made the switch from hydrogenated oils to palm oil. "Our school lunch program is a leader in ensuring our students develop healthy lifestyles," says Superintendent Janet H. Jopke. It does not have any of the negative features found in other oils such as artificial colors, preservatives, trans fatty acids or cholesterol. In addition, it provides many nutrients such as vitamins A, E, K and CoQ10.

French fries are among the most popular lunch items. Cooking in palm oil, they are now more healthful then they used to be. "We always try to give kids what they want in the healthiest way we can," says Jennifer Haglund, a cook at Larson Middle School. "Fries are a big thing. We offer other stuff, but they want those fries."

As knowledge of the health aspects of palm oil become more widely known, it is being used more frequently in place of other vegetable oils and animal fats, particularly as an alternative to health destroying hydrogenated fats and shortenings.

While it makes sense to replace hydrogenated oils with healthier alternatives, some people may ask: but why choose palm oil? The answer is that palm oil is a very healthy oil, which provides superior cooking and baking qualities compared to most other oils.

The health aspects of palm oil have been extensively studied over the past couple of decks. Consequently, palm oil is emerging as one of the premier oils - superior to most of the fats and oils currently used in out diet. Some of the benefits associated with palm oil reported in recent studies include:

1. Helps protect against heart disease.
2. Improves blood circulation.
3. Helps protect against many forms of cancer, including breast cancer.
4. Improves blood sugar control in diabetics.
5. Aids in the prevention and treatment of malnutrition.
6. Is a heat stable cooking oil.
8. Contains no trans fatty acids or cholesterol.
9. Supports healthy lung function.
10. Helps strengthen bones and teeth.
11. Supports healthy immune system function.
12. Supports eye health.
13. Protects the liver.
14. Helps protect against mental deterioration, including Alzheimer's disease.
15. Provides a rich, natural source of health protecting antioxidants.
16. Is the richest dietary source of vitamin E and beta-caroten.
17. Has the highest natural source of health promoting tocolrienols.
18. Helps stabilize cells and tissues.
19. Protects against destructive action of lipid per oxidation.
20. Help protect against premature aging.

At one time palm oil was criticized as being unhealthy because of its high saturated fat content. It contains as much saturated fat as it does unsaturated fat. Consequently, palm oil was lumped together with other saturated fats by the media and many health care professionals as contributing to heart disease. We now know that palm oil does not contribute to heart disease and should be considered as one of the "good" fats. Unfortunately, many people are still misinformed and continue to criticize it. This has created a great deal of confusion and prejudice against palm oil.

The primary purpose of this book is to educate the reader about the true character of palm oil and encourage its use in place of other, less healthy fats. As you will discover, palm oil, and especially red palm oil, is an exceptionally good fat that is superior in many ways to most other dietary fats.***

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1 comment :

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