- Where does most palm oil come from?
- Is palm oil nutritious?
- Is palm oil alkaline or acidic?
- Is palm oil gluten free?
- Is palm oil a common food allergen?
- Water footprint of palm oil?
- Carbon footprint of palm oil?
- Is palm oil sustainable?
- Is palm oil vegan?
- Does palm oil have human rights issues?
- Additional info on palm oil
- Foods That Often Contain Palm Oil
- Household Products That Often Contain Palm Oil
- Brands That Add Palm Oil
- Other Names For Palm Oil and Derivatives
What are palm oil benefits and side effects? Is palm oil vegan? Gluten free? Acidic or alkaline? Low fodmap? Good for you? Healthy? Sustainable? Here are palm oil pros and cons: all the info on palm oil that every ethical consumer wants to know…
Food is something we consume every day. If you’re like me, you do all the research you can to make sure you don’t hurt yourself, the planet, animals or others when shopping. As an ethical consumer myself, I am giving you all the info I’ve found on palm oil benefits and side effects.
After learning if palm oil is good or bad for you, the environment, animals and human rights, you will be able to make the best choices you can the next time you buy food.
This post is all about palm oil benefits and side effects that every ethical consumer should know.
Palm Oil Benefits and Side Effects
Palm oil side effects may include:
- increased risk of certain heart disease
- heart and artery damage
- increased LDL (bad) cholesterol levels
- weight gain
Palm oil health benefits may include:
- boosted energy
- strengthened immunity
- brain health
- improved vision
Additionally, palm oil is…
Water footprint: moderate, it takes 4,971 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of refined palm oil / 596 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of refined palm oil
Carbon footprint: high, 3.3 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of palm oil, a car driving equivalent of 7.75 miles or 12.5 kilometers
Destruction: high, palm oil production is relatively destructive, mass deforestation, large-scale devastation of tropical forests, widespread habitat loss for endangered species
Palm oil is…
Kills: none, palm oil production does not require any animals
Harms: none, palm oil production does not require any animals
Indirectly kills or harms: wildlife and ecosystems, through severe deforestation, animals such as orangoutangs, tigers, elephants, rhinoceros and other rainforest creatures’ lives are directly threatened, as their habitats are consequently destroyed, in the past 16 years, an estimated 100,000 orangutans have died as a result of palm oil production
Palm oil is…
- Harmful to wildlife and ecosystems
Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible
Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation
Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits
- Involves worker exploitation, laborer issues, human rights concerns
Where does most palm oil come from?
Indonesia is the largest producer of palm oil, followed by Malaysia.
Both countries account for 84% of the worlds palm production, with China also being a major producer.
The world’s top palm oil exporting country is Indonesia, followed by Malaysia, Netherlands, Germany, Estonia, Denmark, USA, Papua New Guinea, Italy, Honduras.
Is palm oil nutritious?
Palm oil is high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat (the good kind) but is extremely high in saturated fat (the bad kind).
Is palm oil alkaline or acidic?
Palm oil is acidic.
What is the pH level of palm oil?
Palm oil has a 3.5 pH level once digested.
When you eat food, it breaks down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.
Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List
Is palm oil gluten free?
Yes, palm oil is gluten free. Palm oil does not contain gluten. Palm oil is a type of oil, therefore making it a gluten free food.
While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…
Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:
- recurring abdominal pain
- chronic diarrhea
- numbness in hands and feet
- chronic fatigue
- joint pain
- unexplained infertility
- low bone density (osteopenia or osteoporosis)
There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.
Going gluten free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List
Is palm oil a common food allergen?
No, palm oil is not a common food allergen. Some people may experience allergic reactions to palm oil but it is relatively rare by comparison.
A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:
- crustacean shellfish
- tree nuts
Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis.
Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.
Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List
Water footprint of palm oil?
Palm oil has a relatively moderate water footprint.
It takes 4,971 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of refined palm oil / 596 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of refined palm oil.
Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource?
How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?
Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List
Carbon footprint of palm oil?
Palm oil has a relatively low carbon footprint.
It takes around 3.3 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of palm oil, a car driving equivalent of 7.75 miles or 12.5 kilometers.
Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.
When calculating carbon emissions, some factors may include…
- farm equipment
- animal feed production
- hothouses (greenhouses)
- food processing
- package waste and more
But that’s not all!
It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:
- shopping locally reduces transportation emissions
- food without packaging reduces waste as well as the carbon footprint
- refrigerated and frozen foods increase carbon emissions
- seasonal foods reduce carbon emissions from hothouses (greenhouses)
- growing plant-based foods at home is the most environmentally sustainable method with zero carbon footprint
Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List
Is palm oil sustainable?
No, palm oil production is relatively destructive and unsustainable, there is significant damage to air, water, land, soil, forests, etc. Palm oil production means mass deforestation, large-scale devastation of tropical forests and widespread habitat loss for endangered species.
A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.
Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.
Is palm oil vegan?
Yes, palm oil is vegan. Palm oil is a vegetable oil from the fruit of an oil palm and not an animal product or byproduct, therefore making it a vegan food.
However, palm oil is devastating to wildlife habitats, specifically jungle animals in Indonesia whose homes are deforested for palm oil production.
Even claims of ‘sustainable palm oil’ are problematic. Purchasing palm oil of any sort is simply demanding more palm oil. ‘Sustainable’ palm oil groups have developed negative reputations for having relaxed requirements and not following through with checks and regulations.
Don’t buy ‘sustainable palm oil’ which is yet another marketing term similar to ‘cage free’, ‘grass fed’, ‘free range’ and the like, as they attempt to ease the instinctual and accurate guilt of consumers. It’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid palm oil and palm products entirely, as palm oil is not even an essential ingredient! In fact, there are many substitutes for palm oil like coconut oil, sunflower oil, rapeseed oil and more.
Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non Vegan Foods List
Does palm oil have human rights issues?
Yes, palm oil is bad for laborers and is associated with human rights issues.
“Many [palm oil laborers] are children who work in unsafe conditions for far below the minimum wage. Others have been deceived by laborer brokers into being caught in debt-bondage like situations, and are trapped in remote areas with no ability to pay for a passage home.” according to the International Labor Rights Forum.
Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized.
Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation.
Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards.
We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade.
Additional info on palm oil
- 50% of all packaged foods contain palm oil, which adds up to thousands of products.
- Even products listed as ‘Vegan’ and ‘Organic’ can still contain palm oil.
- ‘Sustainable Palm Oil’ is an oxymoron. There can be no such thing.
- Many eco friendly brands that insist on using ‘sustainable’ palm oil state they joined the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and other similar groups which have developed negative reputations regarding very relaxed requirements for palm oil farming.
- Using terms like ‘sustainable palm oil’ is like ‘free range’ or ‘grass fed’…mere marketing tactics to make harmful ingredients look good and lessen consumer guilt in order for companies to cut corners and justify profits.
- Buying ‘Organic Palm Oil’ is not better. It simply demands more palm oil production.
- No foods require palm oil. No one needs palm oil. There are an abundance of palm oil alternatives that brands can use instead.
- Palm oil is so prevalent simply because it’s cheap when compared to palm oil alternatives…yet ultimately costs us our health and planet.
Foods That Often Contain Palm Oil
- chips (crisps UK)
- french fries
- ice cream
- instant noodles
- nut butters (almond butter, cashew butter, hazelnut butter, peanut butter)
- packaged foods
- pizza dough
- tortilla wraps
Household Products That Often Contain Palm Oil
Brands That Add Palm Oil
- Bagel Bites
- Balance Bar
- Barcel USA
- Bird’s Eye
- Blue Bonnet Table Spreads
- Boston Market
- Burton’s Foods
- Butterball Turkey
- Canada Dry
- Chef Boyardee
- Clif Bar
- Cool Whip
- Count Chocula
- Country Crock
- Crunch N‘ Munch
- Dr. Pepper
- Earth Balance
- Egg Beaters
- Eskimo Pie
- Flora Buttery Spread
- French’s Mustard
- Girl Scout Cookies
- Gulden’s Mustard
- Harmony Premium Trail Mix
- Hawaiian Punch
- Head & Shoulders
- Hebrew National
- Heinz Baby Food
- Heinz Ketchup
- Jack Daniels
- Jell-O No Bake Homestyle Cheese Cake Desert
- Jiffy Pop
- Johnson and Johnson
- Kit Kat
- Knott‘s Berry Farm
- La Choy
- Lea & Perrins
- Little Debbie Snacks
- Luna Bar
- Marie Callender‘s Frozen Meals
- Maryland Cookies
- Max Factor
- Mrs. Fields Cookies
- Nature Valley
- Newmans Own Organics
- Nissin Noodles / Ramen
- Ore Ida
- Orville Redenbachers
- Pepperidge Farm Cookies
- Peter Pan
- Post Cereals
- Power Bar (Powerbar)
- Quaker Oats
- Ritz Crackers
- Russell Stover Chocolates
- Simple Truth
- South Beach Diet foods
- Soy Milk (various)
- Sun Ridge Farms
- Sweet’N Low
- Trader Joe’s
- United Biscuits
- Zone Perfect
- Coca Cola
- General Mills
- Johnson & Johnson
Other Names For Palm Oil and Derivatives
- Any ingredient containing the word ‘palm’ typically contains palm oil
- Octyl Palmitate
- Palm-Kernel Oil
- Palm-Fruit Oil
- Palmitic Acid
- Palmitoyl Oxostearamide
- Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3
- Palmityl Alcohol
- Sodium-Dodecyl Sulfate
- Sodium-Dodecyl Sulphate
- Sodium-Laureth Sulfate
- Sodium-Laureth Sulphate
- Steareth 2
- Steareth 20
- Stearic Acid
- Vitamin A Palmate
- Cetyl Alcohol
- Cetyl Palmitate
- Elaeis Guineensis
- Etyl Palmitate
- Glyceryl Stearate
- Hydrated Palm Glycerides
This post was all about palm oil side effects and benefits.
The palm oil industry and noncommunicable diseases – NCBI
BBC: How do we go palm oil free?
The dangerous ingredient you’re eating—and don’t even know it
Global Demand for Natural Resources Eliminated More Than 100,000 Bornean Orangutans
Adriane MarieHi, I'm Adriane, creator of HEALabel! I organize info for you to comprehensively see how purchases impact health, environment, animals and laborers. Stay aware because you care! Subscribe below to get my weekly newsletter with tips, new info and other ethical consumer insight.
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