Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Blood Cholesterol Controversy - Olive Oil vs Palm Oil

Fried Chicken! Yao Zha Guai! Roti Canai! Cookies! *drooling already*

Yes, oil plays a big role in our daily diet. And I mean edible oil, like peanut oil, palm oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, lard, butter, margarine and etc etc. Can you differentiate them? Can you tell which is the best oil to consume?

Of course, each manufacturer will definitely say that their oil is the best. Regardless of the smell, taste and price, let's look at the essential components of oil - FATS. There are 3 types of fats in each oil, namely saturated fat, monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat.

So the best oil to consume should be high in unsaturated fat and minimal/no saturated fat. This is due to the fact that saturated fat is often linked to the raise of total blood cholesterol and also the LDL cholesterol (aka bad cholesterol) while unsaturated fat reduces LDL cholesterol and increases the HDL cholesterol (aka the good cholesterol).

You can visit Wikipedia - Cooking Oil to compare the composition of different oils.

Okay, back to my question. Which is the best oil to consume? I'm sure a handful of you would answer Olive Oil. I couldn't disagree with the answer. Olive oil is indeed high in monounsaturated oleic acid (~70%) and high content in antioxidants. No doubt at all, it has been labelled as the gold standard among all edible oils today.

There is another oil in the market that caught my attention, the Palm Oil. Do you know that Malaysia is the largest export of palm oil to the other countries? Yet, the palm oil industries is slowly fading and overshadowed by the facts stated by a few parties.
  • The United States' Center for Science in the Public Interest said palm oil which is high in saturated and low in polyunsaturated fat, promotes heart disease.
  • The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, World Health Organization (WHO), and other health authorities have urged reduced consumption of palm oil. WHO states there is convincing evidence that palmitic acid consumption contributes to an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
  • A 2005 research in Costa Rica suggests consumption of non-hydrogenated unsaturated oils over palm oil.

If you look at the composition of palm oil, the percentage of saturated fat is high. So if you're just plainly looking at the figures, you may think that palm oil is bad for health. However, Dr. Tony Ng from Malaysia's Institute for Medical Research's head of Cardiovascular Disease Unit Cardiovascular, Diabetes and Nutrition Centre highlighted:
Palm oil has traditionally been labelled as a saturated fat because of its high palmitic acid content (41%). However the oil has only traces of the cholesterolemic villains, -- myristic acid (1.0%) and lauric acid (0.5%), but a high content of oleic acid (40%) and 10% of the n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, linoleic acid. The major fraction of palm oil consumed, palm olein, in fact has 12% linoleic acid, which is certainly higher than in the much-extolled olive oil which has less than 10% linoleic acid. The impact of palm oil on the cardiovascular desease risk profile would then depend primarily on the impact of its palmitic acid (16:0) content. He expressed surprise that WHO/FAO Expert Group concerned has chosen to ignore this.
The snippet above is cited from Wikipedia - Palm Oil. You may visit the site to read more on it.

Here is a little summary for Olive Oil vs Palm Oil:

1. Fats: Olive oil has ~70% monounsaturated oleic acid while palm oil is made up of ~50% of monounsaturated oleic acid. Studies showed that this oleic acid has beneficial effects on cholesterol but no one is sure of the amount needed by individuals. Both olive oil and palm oil showed good result in increasing the HDL (good) cholesterol level, surpassing canola oil.

2. Nutrition: Olive oil is known to have high antioxidant. Palm oil on the other hand has something extra. It contains many potent antioxidants, including beta-carotene, pro-vitamin A carotenoids and tocotreinols, a form of vitamin E. That is why the colour of palm oil is a bit reddish.

3. Flavour: Olive oil has a strong smell, so it doesn't go well with most recipes especially to us - Asian delicacies. Red palm olein however, is virtually flavourless. It brings out the aroma of the food rather than overpowering or influencing the actual flavour of it.

4. Smoke point: Smoke point refers to the temperature where a cooking fat or oil begins to break down to glycerol and free fatty acids. Olive oil has lower smoke point compared to palm oil. Therefore, palm oil is more flexible for different cooking style as it can stand higher temperature.

5. Price: As oil is quite mandatory in our daily cooking, using olive oil may cost a bomb. However, palm oil is about 1/5 of olive oil's price only (on average).

So next time when you're shopping for your cooking oil and you're concern about your health, why not pick palm oil. It's cheaper and healthier! Billy, out.

References:
1. Healthy Living - Healthy Eating: Palm Oil Rivals Olive for Health Benefits, Beats it for Versatility
2. Palm Oil Truth Foundation - Olive Oil vs Palm Oil
3. Palm Olein... All the Goodness of Olive and More!
4. Cooking oil - Wikipedia
5. Palm oil - Wikipedia


9 comments:

Julez said...

I think either way...we have to eat stuff moderately. ~fat fat~

Xjion89 said...

wow, a formal post@@
olive oil is still the best^^

Skaine said...

US always promotes soy oil as one of the best oil in the world and condemn palm oil as the worst cooking oil.

This is because soy oil is one of the highest production of cooking oil in US but not palm oil.

Research has found that soy oil contains trans fat.

Eat or not, you own choice.

Olive oil is not suitable for high temperature cooking. However, there's a restaurant in Jaya One selling fried chicken which is fried with olive oil.

Eat or not, you own choice.

Billy said...

Thanks for the info Skaine. Yes I know they condemn palm oil because they don't produce palm oil. That's one of the reasons I wrote this post.

Chicken fried with olive oil? Which shop? Mind to promote a bit here?

Skaine said...

Please visit the following link for the info of the fried chicken:
http://www.jayaone.com.my/tenant_view.asp?i=4&b=BBQ%20Chicken


If you wan to make salad, you can choose olive oil.
If you wan to fry, please choose palm oil.
But never use soy oil..

As simple as that.
wahahahahahaha


Another thing is, butter is better then margarine.

Julez said...

Agrees with Skaine...olive oil turns into bad oils when too hot. Thats the reason why people put it in last when they are cooking with olive oil.

Another thing to be aware of is the hydrogenated vegetable oils (especially found in most peanut butter)

World Vitamins Online said...

The first step to getting your cholesterol under control is to have it tested. Once you know what your numbers are and mean, you can measure the success or failure of any cholesterol management program you follow

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In cases of pre-menopausal women, should follow a regimen of tests to take care of your cholesterol?
What kind of oil is recommended and helps to have the favorable cholesterol levels in women 30 years?

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katty said...

The olive oil is great not only for the health but for the the skin too, because have many antioxidants properties.Some investigations say that can improve the sexual life of peoples who consume olive oil. Only in the cases when the problem is very advanced is necesary to buy viagra but is good take care of us when we have the tools.

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