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Is Red Palm Fruit Oil Healthy?

By Tina Pashley

Red palm oil is made from the fruit of the African oil palm and is a primary cooking ingredient in many African countries. The fruit of this palm tree is comparable to the size of a grape and is reddish-orange in color. Red palm oil is made from the pulp and oil of the African oil palm's fruit and is widely used today for its nutritional value.

History

Red palm oil has been a staple of many diets for over 5,000 years. This cooking ingredient was originally used in tropical regions of Africa as a cooking additive and as the primary medicinal treatment for many illnesses. It was not uncommon for African villagers to drink a cup of red palm oil when feeling sick. Pregnant women were urged to consume the oil to ensure the birth of a healthy baby. Today, the African oil palm is grown in Africa, Asia and many regions of South America, but is used worldwide.

Uses

Aside from traditional medicinal purposes, red palm oil has been recognized in modern times for its nutritional properties. This oil has been used to treat malnutrition and other vitamin deficiency disorders. Cooking with this oil is easy; red palm oil is ideal for cooking vegetables and meats and has even been added to bread preparation steps. The high fat content of this oil makes it very stable for storage.

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Nutrition

Red palm oil boasts the highest content of beta-carotene and alpha-carotene of any known food source. This oil is also rich in vitamin E, lycopene, vitamin K, CoQ10, flavenoids, phenolinic acids and phytosterols. However, red palm oil has a saturated fat content of 50 percent, so you should limit your intake of this oil if you are trying to avoid saturated fat in your diet. One tbsp. of palm oil contains 6.705 g of saturated fat, 2.17 mg of vitamin E, 1.1 mcg of vitamin K, 120 calories and 13.6 g of total fat.

Health Benefits

The fat content of red palm oil helps to easily absorb the wide variety of vitamins found in this food. Recent studies suggest that red palm oil helps to remove plaque from arteries, helping to prevent atherosclerosis. This nutritional source may also help to prevent heart attacks and strokes and could help to lower LDL cholesterol levels and blood pressure. The high antioxidant content helps to protect you from the damaging effects of free radicals in your body and may even reduce inflammation in your body.

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