Modified Palm Oil :Good or Bad?

Keeping Ahead of the Food Industry’s Devious Ploys.

So, again I was stuck at the supermarket for 2 “friggin” hours reading labels. Does this sound like you? I noticed that I wasn’t seeing “hydrogenated” anymore…anywhere! Instead, I was seeing a lot of ” modified palm oil or modified palm kernel oil. What was this new word? Was it bad for my family? Just the word “modified” kind of scared me. Changing something into something else that is desired sound like tampering with nature. So, I started inquiring around the store. No one seemed to know what it meant. So, I thought I would investigate and put it out there to inform any one who was interested.

Palm oil is the second-most consumed oil in the world and it is quickly replacing the partially hydrogenated fats (or trans fats) in many of your favorite treats. But there’s a dark side to palm oil. Read on to discover what you need to know about this controversial oil.

Palm oil, derived from the fruit of the oil palm tree (Elaeis spp.), is abundant and inexpensive. It is also odourless, tasteless, and solid at room temperature, which makes it ideal for use in packaged foods, margarines, and shortening.Palm oil is trans fat- and cholesterol-free, making it an ideal replacement for those pesky partially hydrogenated oils.

Good Oil, Bad Fat

In its purest form, palm oil is a source of valuable nutrients, including beta carotene, vitamins E and K, magnesium, and essential fatty acids. However, this form is rarely used, says Patricia Chuey, registered dietitian and manager of nutrition affairs for the Overwaite a Food Group.

Instead, food manufacturers use modified palm oil, which is high in saturated fat and no more nutritious than the partially hydrogenated oils it is replacing, says the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). In fact, a recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition found a link between the consumption of palm oil and an increased risk of heart attack.

Current recommendations to reduce saturated fat intake have led to listing palm oil among the foods to avoid, says Dr. Jennie Weisenburger, a naturopathic doctor at the Bellevue Natural Health Clinic in West Vancouver. “There are different schools of thought when it comes to saturated fats and the health benefits and the health risks associated with consuming them,” she says. At issue is palmitic acid (the main saturated fat in palm oil); some studies have linked it to high cholesterol and heart disease and some have not, Weisenburger explains.

Palm Oil and the Environment

It’s not just the saturated fat in palm oil that is raising concerns. Palm oil is grown predominantly in Malaysia and Indonesia, where palm oil plantations contribute to the destruction of Southeast Asian rain forests, says a CSPI report released in 2005. Rather than using abandoned agricultural land, which is costly to rehabilitate, palm oil producers clear rain forests and peat swamp forests to create plantations. The soil and water from these lands are polluted by pesticides used on the plantations and the release of effluents into the environment. According to the CSPI report, they are also endangering the lives of the Sumatran tiger, orangutans, elephants, and rhinoceros.

The American Palm Oil Council (APOC) calls the CSPI’s report “highly inaccurate,” accuses them of “excessive exaggeration,” and suggests the study’s authors have never been to Malaysia to study the oil palm industry. Strict laws are in place in Malaysia to ensure the protection of the environment and its wildlife, says the APOC. They point to the Malaysian Palm Oil Industry’s involvement in the Round-table for Sustainable Palm Oil, an initiative focusing on the development and maintenance of responsible, sustainable palm oil plantations, as evidence of their commitment to the environment.

Finding Balance

Though some palm oil producers likely shirk their responsibilities, others take every step necessary to protect the environment and its wildlife. Palm oil and the issues that surround it serve as a good reminder of the importance of being mindful of the impact of our food sources on the earth.

There is no question that palm oil, in its purest form, contains valuable nutrients and can be part of a healthy diet. But, as always, be cautious of consuming too many processed foods. Look for organic expeller-pressed palm oil that is minimally processed. Avoid palm kernel oil, which is less healthy because the oil is extracted from the pit with a hydrocarbon solvent.

Healthy living means not only making choices that are wise for our species but also making choices that keep the Earth and the rest of its inhabitants safe.

Easy Ways to Limit the Palm Oil in Your Diet

  • Get your dietary fats from polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids (fatty fish, flaxseeds, nuts, nut butters, liquid egg products), and monounsaturated fat (avocados and vegetable oils such as canola, olive, and soybean oils).
  • Limit your consumption of processed foods.
  • Bake homemade cookies and treats instead of buying commercially prepared treats.
  • Daily calories from fat should represent only 20 to 35 percent of total calories (about 45 to 75 g per day for women and about 60 to 105 g per day for men), recommends the Canadian Heart and Stroke Association.

Hormone Therapy and Stroke – 10 year Study Report

ABSTRACT Principal findings on stroke from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI)clinical trials of hormone therapy indicate that estrogen, alone or with a progesterone, increases a woman’s risk of stroke. These results were not unexpected, and research during the past decade has tended to support these findings. Consistent evidence from clinical trials and observational research indicates that standard-dose hormone therapy increases stroke risk for post menopausal women by about one-third; increased risk may be limited to ischemic stroke. Risk is not modified by age of hormone initiation or use, or by temporal proximity to menopause, and risk is similar for estrogen plus progesterone and for unopposed estrogen. Limited evidence implies that lower doses of transdermal estradiol (≤50 μg/day) may not alter stroke risk. For women less than 60 years of age, the absolute risk of stroke from standard-dose hormone therapy is rare, about two additional strokes per 10 000 person-years of use; the absolute risk is considerably greater for older women. Other hormonal active compounds – including raloxifene, tamoxifen, and tibolone – can also affect stroke risk.


Gompel A, Santen RJ; Climacteric 15 (3), 241-9 (Jun 2012)

  • Climatric Journal of Medicine

In a study trail over two thousand and five hundred women aged 45 to 84 researchers found that women who had early menopause before the age 46 were more than twice at risk of heart attack and stroke. It is due to lessening in natural supply of oestrogen at earlier stage than it would normally happen at the menopause.

According to researchers’ oestrogen protects women against heart disease. The average age for menopause is fifty-one years. It is expected that around one in five women undergo hysterectomybefore the age of fifty-two that can cause an early menopause though their ovaries are retained.

It is vital for women to know that early menopause is a possible riskfactor for cardiovascular diseases. They can work harder to improve their adjustable risk factors such as blood pressure and high cholesterol by exercising and following healthy diet, said Dr Melissa Wellons from the University of Alabama, Birmingham.

The study presented at The Endocrine Society’s meeting in San Diego found that no women had heart attack or stroke before the age of fifty-five. After that, women who had early menopause had twice likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease than those who had not.


Why the 50 Plus Woman Makes a Better Entrepreneur!


A study is currently underway in the UK with some information trickling in already. Women age 50 and beyond make the best entrepreneurs. Why? Because these women now know what they want, have a desire for self-actualization and fulfillment, and also have a need to give back to humanity(philanthropy). This is what sets them apart from the younger crowd below 50 who are more self centered and busy to even think of giving back.

More and more women of this age group are starting up their own business’. Their kids have left home and now they have an urge to follow their life’s passion as well as to give back to society. When I saw that these women chose the retail and service industries, I was not surprised as most of them have been care takers and nurturers anyways so it would come natural to them. Do you recognize these names?

  • Irene Rosenfeld, Kraft CEO, aged 57
  • Angela Merkel, German Chancellor, 56
  • Hillary Clinton, 63
  • Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo CEO, 55
  • Gail Kelly, Westpac CEO, 54
  • Nancy Pelosi, 70

Is it possible that older women not just have the advantage of experience and authority, but also are taken more seriously once they are no longer perceived as biologically necessary for group survival?