September 14, 2011

To Palm oil or Not?

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Palm oil is widely used in African cooking, especially in soups and sauces. If you are the health conscious type, you probably already avoid palm oil as much as you can, not yet avoiding palm oil? here is why you should;

While palm oil is trans-fat-free, about half of its fat is saturated, adding about 1.5 grams sat fat to each 2-tablespoon serving—and a diet high in saturated fat has been linked with elevated cholesterol levels and increased risk for heart disease. Though you may have heard that palm oil has less of a cholesterol-raising effect than other tropical oils, the research isn’t conclusive.
In addition, recent research shows that palmitic acid, a saturated fat found in palm oil (and beef, butter and cheese), caused mice to become resistant to the appetite-suppressing hormones leptin and insulin, which in theory could make them eat more.

A teaspoon of palm oil has; 
 Calories 120.2
  Total Fat 13.6 g
      Saturated Fat 6.7 g
      Polyunsaturated Fat 1.3 g
      Monounsaturated Fat 5.0 g

To put things in perspective, if a recipe calls for 1/2 cup palm oil, that means you have  2,884 calories and 54.4Gram of  fat from the oil alone.

What to use instead:

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat and research shows that monounsaturated fats help keep “bad” LDL cholesterol low and boost levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. In addition, extra-virgin olive oil is high in antioxidants called polyphenols that have been linked to heart health. “Pure” olive oil (i.e., not virgin) doesn’t contain these “bonus” antioxidants.
Canola Oil
Canola oil generally doesn’t have many antioxidants, as olive oil does, but it does have a relatively long shelf life. In addition, canola is the richest cooking-oil source of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fat that has been linked to heart health.
Coconut oil 
Although high in calories and fat, CO has a lot of health benefit, I personally havent done enough research to convince myself to use it in my cooking, it is also something to consider though.

Another oil to avoid is Soy-beans oil which is  high in omega-6 fats, which compete in your body with healthy omega-3 fats (the kind that benefit your heart and brain).
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Note: If you are not quiet ready to go cold turkey with palm oil, try using half palm oil/half olive or canola oil for recipes that call for the use of palm oil. I for one can NEVER give up palm oil, it is too delicious!!
Happy cooking!!

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