What is Red Palm Oil + Is it Healthy?

What is red palm oil? Is it healthy?
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Virgin red palm oil, sourced from the fruit of the oil palm tree, is being hailed as a superfood that may help fight heart disease, prevent Alzheimer’s and promote fat loss. However, with a fat composition of 50% saturated, 40% monounsaturated and 10% polyunsaturated, the oil’s ability to promote good health is questionable. Limited quality studies have been done on red palm oil, with some promising findings on specific nutrients it contains.

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The health benefits of red palm oil come from its red color as it is very high in the antioxidants beta-carotene and lycopene, as well as tocotrienols, a form of vitamin E that has shown to be cardio-protective. Whereas virgin red palm oil has a dark red color and strong flavor, refined red palm oil is white and neutral-flavored. The refining process also strips the oil of its beneficial antioxidants. Organic virgin red palm oil can be part of a clean-eating plan, but we recommend that you look for brands that produce the oil in a sustainable manner (such as Nutiva Organic Red Palm Oil) and that you limit your consumption to 1 to 2 tablespoons per day.

Registered dietitians Tiffani Bachus and Erin Macdonald are the co-founders and creators of URockGirl.com, a website dedicated to promoting wellness and a healthy, balanced lifestyle.