Tropical Oils - Safer Than You Think.txt
Tropical Oils - Safer Than You Think
Gabe Mirkin, M.D.
"Tropical oils" refers to oils made from palm, palm kernel and
coconut oils. In the 1980s, the American soybean industry was
worried that foreign tropical oils would replace their oils as the
number one fat, and take money from the American farmer.
A public relations firm working for the American soybean industry
devised a campaign that would help to convince consumers that
tropical oils were unhealthful. Foods made with soybean oil were
labelled "contains no tropical oils." Later the U.S. Federal Trade
Commission made that label illegal because there was an implied
health claim that tropical oils are harmful and there is no evidence
to back it up. the total amount of tropical oils in the U.S. diet
was about two percent, so anything that caused consumers to avoid
them would have a negligible effect on cholesterol. The whole issue
was a trade war and not about health effects.
Tropical oils are used in foods for functional reasons. They are
excellent for shortening because they don't get rancid easily, they
produce flaky pastry and good color on fried foods, and they don't
give a greasy feel to crackers. It is difficult to substitute most
other vegetable oils for the tropical ones because their
polyunsaturated fats have a short shelf life. To prolong the shelf
life, manufacturers convert soybean oil in your food to partially
hydrogenated oils which are known to be harmful to your health
(increasing risk for a heart attacks and certain cancers).
The countries with the highest palm oil intakes in the world are
Costa Rica and Malaysia. Their heart disease rates and serum
cholesterol levels are much lower than in western nations. This
never was a real health issue.