Palm oil is a vegetable oil derived from tropical oil palm trees’ fruit. It is distinct from red palm oil and palm kernel oil. It has become popular as a replacement for hydrogenated vegetable oils as it is sufficiently saturated to be relatively solid at room temperature.
Palm oil is 43.5% saturated palmitic acid, 37% monounsaturated oleic acid, 9% polyunsaturated linoleic acid, with various other fatty acids. Analysis of diets using palm oil rather than soybean oil for cooking found palm oil usage to lead to an increased risk of myocardial infarction. A study in rabbits found palm oil to increase serum cholesterol and occlusion of arteries. Other studies have found no effect of palm oil on serum cholesterol or triglycerides in humans, and that it may reduce body fat accumulation. Reviews of palm oil’s nutritional aspects have concluded that the evidence is unclear and difficult to interpret. See: Palmitic acid, Oleic acid.
Palm oil has been condemned as unsustainable and damaging to the local and global environment due to the deforestation associated with its production.
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