Red palm oil is considered as a superfood that keeps you healthy and young. But hold your horses: red palm oil is also in associated with impending distinction of the orangutan! Don’t be fooled: this even counts for some organic brands …
Health benefits of red palm oil
[dropcap]Red[/dropcap] palm oil is just like cacao butter and coconut oil high in saturated fatty acids (not to confuse with unhealthy trans fats) and is high in carotenoids and other powerful anti-oxidants. Red palm oil differs from ‘regular’ palm oil by the manner in which the oil is extracted. Red palm oil comes from the oil palm fruit, which has a bright red color. ‘Regular’ palm oil comes from the kernel of the palm fruit. The latter lacks carotenoids, which is why red palm oil is considered as a healthier choice than ‘regular’ palm oil.
Red palm fruit from which red palm oil is processed. Copyright: WNF
Although scientific data is limited and the health benefits of red palm oil are primarily due to extrapolation of results, nutrients in red palm oil are associated with fighting vision loss from age related diseases, possible inhibition of many kinds of cancer – such as lung, liver, breast and prostate cancer – from forming, improvement of heart health, stimulation of weight loss by sparking metabolic rate, improvement of digestion and brain health. Whether it is true or not that red palm oil has the power to inhibit the formation of cancer, it is true that red palm oil is an extremely healthy gift from nature. I do not have any doubts that incorporating red palm oil into your diet will leave you with health benefits.
Impendence of native species
Now, before you hurry to your local store or favorite webshop to buy red palm oil … here’s something to consider: to cultivate oil palms for palm oil production, massive conversion of rain forest into oil palm plantations is necessary. Most of these plantations are situated in South East Asia, in Malaysia and Sumatra. These plantations once were the habitat of the elephant, tiger, rhino and orangutans …
The natural habitat of these animals disappears rapidly by incineration and deforestation, even giving the Sumatran orangutan the ‘critivcally endangered’ IUCN Red List Status (list of threatened species) and seriously threatened with extinction. Moreover, there is a serious threat that animals get injured due to burning down their habitat.
BBC’s coverage on an orangutan in Borneo that burned in the flames
Due to the disappearance of their habitat and in search of food, orangutans access the habitat of the inhabitants of Sumatra and Borneo. This makes them an easy prey for the villagers, which are often poor and consider an orangutan as a source of protein. Baby orangutans are captured, kept in cages and traded.
The malnourished juvenile orangutan was captured after his mother was beaten to death. Copyright: Paul Hillton
What you can do
The RSPO-certificate is earned when a palm oil company produces its palm oil according to a set of criteria composed by the RSPO (Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil, established to promote the production and use of sustainable palm oil for People, Planet and Prosperity), or when a company uses palm oil in it’s products (palm oil is also found in cosmetics, soap, cookies etc.) that meets the RSPO criteria. These criteria assume that oil palm cultivation only takes place when there is no expense of people and valuable nature.
The below video gives a quick overview about the RSPO’s core business:
“The Nature of Business – Transforming the market for palm oil”, about the roll of palm oil in our food and how the RSPO works on increasing the supply of sustainable palm oil.
100% safe, RSPO-certified
To help you to shop safely, here’s a list of 100% safe, RSPO-certified red palm oil brands:
- Some brands that carry the RSPO certificate are beauty brands L’Occitane En Provence cosmetics, Unilever, Ferrero and IKEA.
- Heinz, Johnson&Johnson (eg. Vaseline), Haribo, Iglo, L’Oréal, Nestlé, Oriflame, Remia, Friesland Campina, The Body Shop, Albert Heijn, Lidl, Coop Sweden & Switzerland and Boots had a criteria score of 11 out of 12, making them a rather safe choice.
- Brands that had a very low score and ( 0-4.5/12) are ALDI, Burger King, Coop Denmark, Subway and Kellog’s.
Download score cards
To view the full list of 100% RSPO-certified safe brands and brands that have a low ‘orangutang safe’ score, download the below pdf:
- Palm oil WNF Scorecard 2013 international (pdf)
- Palm oil Scorecard 2013 Dutch companies and companies operating in the Netherlands (pdf)
- Oyewole OE, Amosu AM. Public health nutrition concerns on consumption of red palm-oil (RPO): the scientific facts from literature. Afr J Med Med Sci. 2010 Dec;39(4):255-62; discussion 263-5. Review. PubMed PMID: 21735991.
- “Why You Should Give Red Palm Oil a Try” by Bryce Wylde
- Transforming the market to make sustainable palm oil the norm
- Primates Helping Primates
- World Wilde Life
Share with your friends or donate to stop non-certified palm oil production!