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When it comes to cooking oils, you have choices aplenty. But there's a fantastic one you probably haven’t heard of yet—red palm fruit oil.

Don’t confuse it with palm kernel oil. This oil from the oil palm tree (Elaeis guineensis) is pressed out in a dark red color and in its virgin (or unprocessed) state, it’s got super nutrient qualities.

Just 1 or 2 tablespoonfuls incorporated in your daily diet is all you need to reap the benefits of red palm oil.

Benefits of Red Palm Oil

  • Lots of Carotenes

    Red palm oil gets its red color because it’s chock full of beta-carotene and lycopene, the nutrients that give tomatoes and carrots their bright colors and help fight vision loss from diseases such as age-related macular degeneration.

  • Cancer Inhibitor

    This superfood is packed with tocotrienols, one of the more potent forms of vitamin E, which may inhibit many cancers, including liver, lung, breast, and prostate, from forming.

  • Heart Health

    Red palm oil surprised researchers. Instead of contributing to clogs in the arteries as expected, red palm oil removed the build-up of arterial plaque, thus lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) levels, preventing blockages, and helping to avert heart attacks and strokes. A National Institutes of Health (NIH) study showed the alpha tocotrienol in red palm oil reduced the effects of stroke by as much as 50 percent by protecting the brain’s nerve cells.

  • Metabolic Boost

    Most fats in vegetable oils are slow metabolizing and can end up stored in the body as fat. Red palm oil goes directly to your liver, sparking a higher metabolic rate that burns fat calories more quickly than from other oils.

  • Improved immunity

    Red palm oil fosters nutrient utilization. The result: improved liver detoxification channels and better immune system functioning.

Sourcing Red Palm Oil

The oil palm originated in tropical West Africa, but palm oil is now grown mostly in South America and Asia. Most palm oil comes from commercial plantations, which are destructive to the environment as well as species such as the orangutan and its habitat. Look instead for fair trade-certified red palm oil. It will be unrefined, and a deep, rich orange-red color.

Sources: 

"Public Health Nutrition Concerns on Consumption of Red Palm-Oil (RPO): the Scientific Facts from Literature" by O. E. Oyewole and A. M. Amosu, Afr J Med Med Sci, 12/10

"Why You Should Give Red Palm Oil a Try" by Bryce Wylde, www.doctoroz.com

“Alaffia Indigenous Resource: Red Palm Oil,” www.alaffia.com, 2013

“Cosmetics Industry Going Fair Trade,” Organic Monitor, www.organicmonitor.com, 10/08