Oil extracted from the different parts of plants is named after that part of a plant or even on that tree from which it is extracted. These extracted plant oils or vegetable oils can be edible or non-edible.
They have a variety of benefits for health, skin, and the environment. But, some vegetable oils are bad for health and the environment.
In this article, the complete focus is on one such oil: palm oil. Here we come up with some vital information about palm oil and why it is bad for our health and environment.
All About Palm Oil
1. What Is Palm Oil?
Palm oil is a kind of plant oil or vegetable oil extracted from the fruit part of the oil palm tree. It is used by many industries in manufacturing cosmetics, soaps, detergents, food items, and even in the making of cooking oils.
This oil has so many purposes of using it along with it is a high yielding vegetable oil than others. Due to its low cost of production, many companies produce palm oil at a high rate.
Palm oil production is very high in Asia, Africa, and Latin America because these continents have favorable conditions to grow oil palm trees. It is used in a wide range, from non-edible items to edible food products.
Not only this but palm oil is also used in biofuel production. As it is used as raw material for various products, that’s why its production occurs at a rapid rate.
But why is this oil really bad if it has so many uses? We will get into this, but let’s learn about palm oil in detail before that.
2. Where Does It Come From?
The oil palm tree is the only source of palm oil. Its scientific name is Elaeis guineensis that belongs to the Arecaceae family of the plant kingdom. It is obtained from the fleshy fruit part of the oil palm tree.
The fruits of this tree are grown in clusters. Generally, two types of oil are produced from this tree. One of them is palm oil, and the other is palm kernel oil.
The significant difference between these two types of oil is the chemical constitute and part of the plant. The fleshy fruit part of the plant is used to make palm oil, whereas the seed part of the plant, also known as the kernel, is used to produce palm kernel oil.
Due to the difference in the chemical constituents of these two oils, their use in the production of products is also different.
Palm oil is mainly used in cosmetics, biofuels, and other non-edible production companies. The use of palm oil in cosmetics, soaps, and detergents is done only after removing free fatty acids from it.
On the other hand, palm kernel oil is used as raw material for many edible products or pharmaceutical products.
Palm trees are grown mainly in tropical regions, including Indonesia and Malaysia. These countries are the largest producer of palm oil in the world.
3. Reasons For Why Palm Oil Is Bad
It is quite challenging to say whether it is good or bad because everything has good and bad impacts. In our daily life, we use various products like toothpaste, cosmetics, lubricants, and other items in which palm oil is used as raw material for their manufacturing.
Despite this, palm oil is also used to cure many health issues or vitamin deficiencies. For instance, it helps treat many health issues like deficiency of vitamin A, cancer, high cholesterol, heart disease, obesity, and many others.
Palm oil also has an antioxidant effect due to Vitamin E and beta carotene. It also has saturated fats and unsaturated fats.
Only unsaturated fat is good for health, while saturated fat is responsible for high cholesterol and blood pressure problems. Along with them, this oil is also rich in palmitic acid.
The content of palm oil is quite similar to coconut oil. That’s why some people use palm oil as an alternative to coconut oil.
In some places, palm oil replaces trans fats because many studies show that trans fats are responsible for health risks. Another good thing about this oil is that it is the cheapest oil than other vegetable oils; however, cheap palm oil can prove to be unhealthier for the body.
Palm oil is one of the most controversial oils as of now because of has both good and bad qualities. On the one hand, it has several health benefits; on the other hand, it has risks to heart health.
So, this article will give you a detailed look at palm oil and how it affects human health or the environment.
Here are the significant reasons that will help you understand why palm oil is bad.
4. Is Palm Oil Bad for Babies?
Doctors recommend breastmilk to feed newborn babies because it contains palmitic acid and many other essential nutrients for the baby’s growth. But some parents avoid breastmilk feeding due to health concerns.
That’s why they use baby formulas to feed their babies. Baby formula contains all the ingredients, including palm oil.
Using this oil in baby formula is because it contains palmitic acid. Although palm oil is a good ingredient for infant formula, it is not digested properly in babies’ digestive systems.
It may cause constipation and complex stool problem in babies. It is also responsible for forming calcium soaps, which are not harmful but floats in a baby’s intestine.
Through various research, it is found that palm is not that much worse for babies’ health, but it may cause constipation in some babies.
Palm oil also decreases bone density because it inhibits calcium absorption. Hence, avoid palm oil-containing baby formulas for your baby.
5. How Is Palm Oil Bad for Health?
Palm oil contains saturated fat, unsaturated fat, trans fat, vitamin E, beta carotenes, palmitic acid, and many more components. Because of this, it is used in many food items or even in cooking. It is also used in processed food products.
Although these food items are good for health to some extent, on the other hand, they may be responsible for heart diseases, obesity, diabetes, and other heart risks.
Fats are the essential nutrient of a healthy diet. That’s why they use oils like olive oil, and sunflower oil. Similarly, this oil is also used as cooking oil in many everyday products.
But do you know that besides all the benefits of palm oil, it is also responsible for cardiovascular health issues?
In many countries, refined palm oil is restricted due to its harmful impact on human health.
It also causes respiratory issues in humans not directly but due to the burning of the rainforest. Palm oil consumption also causes liver problems like liver dysfunction.
6. Palm Oil And The Skin
In many cosmetic products, palm oil is used. Now, the question is whether it is good to use products containing oil for skincare.
Well, the answer is both yes and no. Now, why is that? It is because raw palm oil, also known as red palm oil, is good for the skin.
But, refined palm oil is not suitable for the skin. When refining palm oil, chemicals are added to it to use in cosmetic products.
Many reasons show that it is bad for the skin. For example, it blocks skin pores due to the high fatty acids. That results in acne on your skin. Palm oil is used in making soap because of its cleansing property, but it makes your skin drier.
You can see palm oil in various products like shampoo, soap, detergent, personal care products. But they are not suitable for your skin. They can cause skin inflammation, redness, or eczema.
So, avoid products containing palm oil or palm oil extracted chemicals.
7. Palm Oil and The Environment
Oil palm plantations have a hazardous impact on our environment. The rise in the palm oil sector is ultimately an issue of concern for many environmentalists.
But how can a tree cause such damage to our environment?
The major issues that arise due to the use of palm oil and its industries are like:
Pollution always remains a big problem in the world for the environment. The government tries many things to control their level. Big industries and the chemicals released by them are the primary water and air pollution source.
Palm oil is not directly obtained from the tree, but it goes through refining and extraction in the palm oil industry.
These industries release their effluent in freshwaters that ultimately pollute water and soil. This results in water pollution and soil pollution.
As we know, deforestation is another issue globally responsible for other problems like soil erosion, flood, and other disasters. Malaysia and Indonesia are the leading countries where deforestation occurs for growing palm trees. Many other countries where deforestation occurs are India, Kenya, Brazil, and Papua New Guinea.
It is reported that 2.3% of global deforestation and 5% of tropical deforestation are only due to palm oil.
7.3. Climate change
Every country around the world is facing a climate change problem. Greenhouse gases emission is responsible for climate change. The burning of forests for plantations is responsible for releasing more carbon dioxide into the environment.
We are still facing so many issues due to climate change. If the situation of climate change is not going to improve, we will see the hazardous effect in the future.
7.4. Loss of Animal Habitat
For the plantation and requirement of more land to grow palm trees, industries cut down trees and forests. This results in deforestation and loss of biodiversity. But is palm oil bad for endangered species?
Because it is responsible for the loss of habitat of animal species, they become unable to protect themselves from poachers and predators due to the loss of habitats.
Around 50% of the Orangutans population become extinct due to cutting forests. Not only Orangutans but many other endangered animals are at the stage of extinction. These endangered species are as Sumatran elephant, Bornean pygmy elephant, Sumatran tiger, and rhinos.
8. Palm Oil and The Indigenous Community
Palm oil production will become the cause of many social issues like child labor, migration of local communities from their places due to palm oil plantations, and many others.
Due to the establishment of the palm oil industry in Indonesia, it captures indigenous peoples’ land without giving them money for their land. Child labor issues are also one of the major concerns in Indonesian palm oil companies.
The Indigenous community of Indonesia is completely dependent on the forest for their livelihood. But the cutting of forests for plantations affects their life as well. This results in the generation of many social issues in Indonesia.
They are struggling to live on their lands. That’s why it is a major issue in Indonesia, the world’s leading exporter of palm oil.
9. Certified Sustainable Palm Oil Production
Unsustainable production is the leading cause of so many problems. Hence, sustainable palm oil production is a good idea to resolve these issues. By keeping health and the environment in mind, the idea of sustainable palm oil comes to mind.
The main aim of this is to use and produce palm oil that has no harmful effect on humans, animals, and the environment.
WWF (World Wide Fund) works in the direction of saving the environment from climate change, deforestation, or any other issues. This organization jointly works with companies of palm supply chains to spread awareness about sustainable palm oil.
I hope you will understand why palm oil has been a bad choice till now.
Do let us know what you think about palm oil and its effects in the comment section.