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Palm oil, used in red velvet cupcake recipes or any other recipes requiring vegetable oil, delivers rich moistness as well as giving substantial amounts of carotenoids and vitamin E
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Use red palm oil as the hot oil treatment for hair! Massage slightly heated palm oil onto hair. Cover with plastic cap and leave for half an hour. Rinse twice if necessary with your favourite shampoo and condition as usual.
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In keeping food fresh, antioxidants, which include palm oil, are used as a common food additive. It contains both tocopherol and tocotrienols (of the vitamin E family) that prevent oxidation of food.
Upon stumbling on this supplement this other day, I tried googling for more details. I knew that it was good for health but have no clear idea on what is actually does.
Co-enzymes Q10 or CoQ10 has an antioxidant function. It naturally occurs in our body but tends to decrease as we age.
CoQ10 continuously reduces oxidation as it carries energy. It is vital for cell growth and provides protection from dangerous chemicals such as free radicals. CoQ10 also regenerates other antioxidants such as vitamin E.
Hardworking organs such as the heart, liver and kidney would have the highest CoQ10 concentrations as they require more energy than others. But some people may feel that our present diet is not sufficient to ensure that our body has the optimal concentration of CoQ10 in our body. Hence you have the supplements being made available on your pharmacy store shelves.
But the supplement does not come without any warnings. As is an antioxidant, CoQ10 may interfere with conventional cancer therapies. So anyone undergoing chemotherapy should consult a doctor first as with any other supplements that one intends to take). Also CoQ10 may lower your blood pressure, which could be a problem if your blood pressure is already low and especially if you are already taking medicine or even supplements that claim to lower your blood pressure.
With these precautions, perhaps turning to natural source of CoQ10 would be best. Best sources of include meat, oils, and fish. Red palm oil is a vegetable oil that is rich in CoQ10.
Many products in the market such as commercial biscuits, potato chips, and ready-made pizzas, contain trans fatty acids (TFAs). TFAs are a third form of fatty acids after saturated fatty acids and unsaturated fats. TFAs are also referred to as ‘trans fats’. Trans fats are formed when edible oils are hydrogenated to turn them into semi-solid nature.
The reason for the needed transformation is because these oils, unlike palm oil, contain high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that render them unstable and easily oxidized. As such, these oils are usually stabilized by partial hydrogenation (a ‘hardening process’) to reduce their PUFA content. Very often, a chemical antioxidant is also added to the oil to improve shelf-life. Without partial hydrogenation, vegetable oil (except for palm oil) tend to turn rancid quickly. The process is carried out at high temperatures, turning the PUFAs in these oils into TFAs which are harmful to health.
TFAs affect our cardiovascular health. So it is good to know what you are consuming by reading the food labels. Your favourite baked products from the bakery, cake shops, including doughnuts and cakes may contain TFAs. To avoid TFA’s ion your own home baking, substitute butter, margarine, and lard with vegetable oils.
Palm oil would be a good choice. But despite palm oil being a vegetable oil, it has always been discriminated due to its saturated fatty acids content. But research has proven that, saturated fats in palm oil are not similar to those in animal fats. The human body is able to metabolize them differently, removing its harmfulness, although numerous viewpoints have been thrown in, making it hard to reach a general consensus.
During frying, at least 3 changes in the frying oil can take place at an accelerated pace. Firstly, the food undergoes a “breakdown” as a result of the splitting of the fat components in the oil.
Secondly, products are oxidized due to attack by air and moisture. When oxidized products are formed, they escape into the atmosphere, polluting the kitchen environment and staining the walls. Palm oil, being highly stable, will not produce excessive smoking, spattering, foaming, and forms less gummy residues in the crockery post cooking.
Thirdly, non-volatiles are formed and accumulate in the frying medium, consequently affecting the quality and taste of the fried food, as well as your health. It has been reported that degraded polyunsaturated frying oils increase risk of hypertension, cancer and heart disease. This is due to oxidised oils increasing oxidative stress and promoting rancidity of the fats in the liver tissues as evident in animal studies.
With the marketing strategy now focussed on getting that healthy twinkle in the eye look, several products in the form of supplements have emerged. To enhance healthy vision, our body requires carotenoids, which is vitamin A.
But if you are not popping even more supplements, consider red palm oil. Red palm oil, which is the deacidified and deodorised form of palm oil, retains 80% of its original carotenoids. It contains at least 10 other carotenes including alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and lycopene – the same nutrients in tomatoes, carrots and other rich-coloured fruits and vegetables.
Its naturally reddish colour is already a clear indication of it remarkably high beta-carotene content, that our body could convert into vitamin A. In the past, it has been used as a remedy to combat malnutrition as vitamin A deficiency is the major cause of childhood blindness in the world. It all took just a teaspoon of red palm oil as it supplies the U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of both fat and vitamin A for children.
Read somewhere in Yahoo about somebody wanting to try red palm oil as a salad dressing. May not be the most favourable, taste wise, but it is still recommended to just add a tablespoon to your favourite dressing, simply for its high carotene content.
I have read that red palm oil is wonderful not just because of that. It is highly concentrated with tocotrienols, a member of vitamin E family, the greater antioxidant compared to tocopherol, the common sibling found in many supplements and food.
Tocotrienols is said to be great too in delaying skin aging. Now that is an even greater motivation for me to use red palm oil in my salad dressing!
In the family of vitamin E, you would find tocopherol and tocotrienols. Tocopherol is commonly found in the multiple vitamin E supplements in the market. Tocotrienol however, is slowly gaining its deserving place as the more powerful of the two.
The goodness of palm oil is that it contains tocotrienols, which is 40-60 times more potent than tocopherol as antioxidants. Tocotrienols have the ability to suppress lower plasma cholesterol and decrease the amount cholesterol plaque in the carotid artery.
A study, by a team of medical scientists, on vitamin E supplements effects on patients who had suffered a previous heart attack has shown that there is a reduction of second heart attack risk by 75%. Tocotrienols are also able to inhibit human breast cancer cells. Adding to that, an animal test on rats further reveals their ability to prevent development of increased blood pressure after 3 months of supplementation.
Not all oils are suitable for every types of cooking, from sautéing, stir-frying to deep frying. There are some vegetable oils that cannot withstand high heat consequently ending up burnt at high temperature, or worse burning your dinner as well.
As food absorbs the heated oil during frying, the choice of oil is pertinent in also determining whether you would want it to contribute to the taste of your cooked food.
Palm oil is a favourite choice when it comes to excellent frying performance as evident researches done by food scientists.
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It is very stable because of its balanced fatty acid composition; it has moderate amount of linoleic acids and small amount of linolenic acids, which are two polyunsaturated fatty acids that may polimerised or combine into other forms easily. Other vegetable oils may have to be partially hydrogenated as to compete with palm olein as stable frying oil.
Palm oil also has a high content of vitamin E, both tocotrienols and tocopherol. Tocotrienols, uniquely found in palm oil, is a greater antioxidant compared to tocopherol.
Why would that be important, you might ask. Well, having a greater antioxidant means that your cooking oil is more resistant to oxidation at high temperature during frying. These antioxidants serve to protect the frying oil, prolong its useful life, and ensure product quality is maintained during its shelf life.
On an early Thursday morning, I arrived with a few others, privileged to be given the opportunity to tour United Plantations Berhad, an oil palm plantation in Teluk Intan, Perak.
We were greeted upon arrival, by our charming hosts, Dato’ Carl Bek Nielson, the Vice Chairman and Executive Director, and his brother, Martin Bek-Nielsen, Executive Director of Finance & Marketing. An array of homemade local kuih as well as fruit pastries were served as light refreshment. Satisfied, we were then ushered into a meeting room for a presentation followed by a Question & Answer session.
It is here that we learned on the economic development that palm oil has brought to the poor. The farmers have toiled on the land of their forefathers, enabling them to bring a decent meal to the table. And it does not stop there.
Palm oil was not just about improving their formerly subsistence economies. It gave more than they ever dreamed of. It gave them a better life. It has allowed education for the following generations.
The children of these farmers were able to attend schools and learn while their fathers discovered that there was a way out of their hardships.
But such happy endings are never without its trial and tribulation. Some parts of the world remain unimpressed by palm oil, especially the West. They started making unacceptable demands. Some, may have never set foot on the land, even more, may have never even known what an oil palm tree looks like, or even talk to these local small farmers to understand the value of the oil, demanded that it is certified for sustainability in a highly burdensome, bureaucratic and costly manner.
It is actually mind boggling, to blame oil palm planters on the deforestation rate of Malaysia, when it has more than 50% of its areas under cover. Even more insane, to press upon the unlearned natives on the importance of alleviating global warming and keeping forested areas, when their primary concern is for basic survival, something they have trouble maintaining before, to say the least.
It was easy enough to see the fallacy of the whole green cause by those who see environmental issues as the sole problem deserving a good fight for mankind, clouded of course, by biased views of those that come from the land of soya and rapeseed crops.
With the record set straight, we were then brought to an experiment lab. Here vigorous experiments are conducted to achieve high-yielding oil palms through among others, cross-breeding techniques. Apart from that, experiments on seeds of other fruit and vegetable plants were also performed.
Next stop was the school, where the children of plantation workers attend. It was well kept, orderly, well-equipped and clean. The schoolchildren quickly greeted our host with respect and admiration. Other classes were attentively listening to their teachers, eyes trailing our movements as we passed their classrooms. Another class was cheerfully singing with their teacher to the music that was coming from a small radio, gaily opening their arms then clapping their hands. We left them soon, smitten by the promising future that was now within the reach of these young minds.
It was only natural to now visit the homes where they are raised. Amazingly, they live in semi-detached brick houses, so unlike the squatters of the poor. It was easy to see the root of their dedication and commitment in work. They were sincerely thankful for the changes in their lives.
After visiting their homes, it was time to go and see the work that they do. Our vans zoomed through the dusty road, passing multiple railwork tracks, the mode of transportation that connected various areas of the plantations. The whole railway track is the second longest after Malaysia’s national railway track.
We made several stops. We were shown the colourful flowers by the roadside, meant to attract the weevils, who contributed in pollinating the seeds. Next, we saw the high bird houses on poles. They were the nests of owls, predators of pesky rats. Some chemical filled containers that hung on poles were intended to turn off pests.
Then it was time to inspect the much-talked about tree. We were shown one that had a few fruits already dropping on the ground, signalling the time to harvest.
A skilled worker manually detached a fruit bunch with a harvesting tool consisting of a long pole that was attached with a sickle at the end. It took a minute before the fruit bunch fell, and within a day, 300 fresh fruit bunches could be harvested. In comparison, a demonstration on a motorized cutter called ‘cantas’ enables 2000 bunches to be detached from the oil palm trees in a day.
Fresh fruit bunches are collected in a wagon pulled by a tractor. Once on the main road of the plantation, a lifting machine took 30 seconds to place the heavy fresh fruit bunch-filled wagon onto a flatbed, present on the railway track. The wagon train would end at the mill, which was where we were going next.
With our protective headgear, we were given a tour in the exceptionally clean mill (Dato’ Carl even proved it by wiping his hand on the floor, and showing us his residue-free palm!)
The wagon cargo train had gone into the mill.
Fresh fruit bunches were transferred into a hot steaming sterilizer to soften and sterilize before moving into a thresher for loosening its fruits.
Subsequently the fruits were channelled into a digester to be mashed and separated from their nuts.
Further pressing, screening, and clarifying were to separate mash into liquid and solid fractions, remove coarse solids, and separate oil and fat sludge, respectively.
Centrifuging then recovered remaining oil, followed by purifying to remove impurities and moisture, and finally vacuum drying to attain palm oil that has a specified moisture level (please refer to “Getting Palm Oil” for a thorough process of extraction).
After the mill, we were brought to a bakery, for an aromatic selection of Danish cookies, moist fruitcakes, and fresh wholemeal herbed breads, among others. The bakery products were produced by a Danish chef specially brought in for authentic Danish teatime snacks.
A splendid lunch held at the clubhouse by a swimming pool, was the closing of our eye-opening trip. If only more people were given the opportunity to be there that day. Then they would have learned to understand before passing unwarranted judgement on the palm oil industry.
Three main types of breakfast spreads available on our supermarket aisles are butter, margarine, and pure palm-based spread.
Margarine is basically vegetable oils, either in combination or as the sole main ingredient. It has higher “good” fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) than butter. But unfortunately the oils needed to be processed to be turned into a solid state. The process is called hydrogenation, which forms trans fat. The more solid the margarine is, the more trans fat it had, meaning margarines are not created equal. Stick margarines contain more trans fat than tub margarines.
Butter on the other hand, has contains animal fat content. It has cholesterol and high levels of saturated fat, two factors that are a cause for concern for health enthusiasts.
In comparison, the trans fat in margarine is touted as the greater evil, scientifically linked to clogged arteries and heart diseases. To counter this, formulations with blends of different oils emerge. Palm oil becomes the popular choice to be blended into the margarine formulations. Palm oil after all has a naturally semi solid state, not requiring hydrogenation in solid fat formulations.
The availability of a third breakfast spread in the form of pure palm oil blend allows one to enjoy several adavantages. Pure palm oil blend has the spreadable consistency of butter yet, with lower saturated fat content, minus trans fat and cholesterol. Making it even more desirable is the existence of carotenoids and tocotrienols (more and more studies are praising this powerful antioxidant, which is part of the Vitamin E family in comparison to the common tocopherol).
(Butter on bread: Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net)