Ingredient Spotlight: Red Palm Oil

January 27, 2013
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Ingredient Spotlight: Red Palm Oil

Red palm oil is taken from the fruit of the oil palm tree. It comes from the same part of the palm tree as regular palm oil, but it is less processed and retains the red color from its high concentration of carotenes. It’s rich in Vitamins A and E. Apparently, when processed, creating regular palm oil, the carotenes along with other nutrients are stripped.

Red palm oil retains more nutritional value than regular palm oil, but there’s something else to consider. The conventional creation of palm oil is bad for the planet. In Indonesia, the growing demand for palm oil is driving tropical forest destruction. In Malaysia, peatswamp forests are being obliterated, and the disappearing forests endangering the habitat of the “pygmy elephant — the smallest elephant on earth — the clouded leopard, the long-nosed tapir and many rare birds.”

As the word about the devastation that the cultivation of palm oil can cause spreads, people are beginning to take notice and companies are beginning to make changes. Sustainable palm oil is in its infancy, and according to Worldwatch Institute, palm oil sustainability criteria remain controversial. But it’s a start.
The increased consumer interest due to the overhyped health and weight loss claims in red palm oil has put quite an increase on demand, at least in the United States. Increased demand for a product that happens so quickly rarely leads to sustainability.
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