Evolving Wellness

Holistic, Natural, and Green Approach to Optimal Wellness

A Guide to Red Palm Oil: Health, Nutrition, Sustainability & Brands

A Guide to Red Palm Oil: Health, Nutrition, Sustainability & Brands

Red palm oil is one of the latest superfoods that has those who are health oriented in our society or within the natural health community talking. In the midst of breaking through the myth that all saturated fat is bad, we are now more willing and eager in fact, to consider tropical oils like red palm oil, which is primarily saturated fat based. The miraculous health claims and nutritious benefits are competing for our attention, but are they telling the whole story? In this essay, I will present to you the numerous sides of red palm oil that need to be considered before you decide whether you will be including this product as part of your diet.

About Red Palm Oil

Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil derived from the fruit of the oil palms. It is estimated that tropical oils, like red palm oil and coconut oil have been safely used for the past 3,000 to 5,000 years. The oil comes mainly from the African oil palm, Elaeis guineensis, which is native to that region. To a lesser extent, it comes from the American oil palm, Elaeis oleifera and the maripa palms of South America, Attalea maripa. The palm oil plant was introduced to South East Asia in 1848, but it did not lead to the start of plantations until the early 1900s. Indonesia is currently the world leader for the highest production of palm oil, but Malaysia is still the world leader for the highest export of palm oil. According to Tropical Traditions, it is the most heavily consumed dietary oil in the world after soybean oil.

When we hear the terms palm oil or red palm oil today, we may not all be talking about the same thing. It can indicate different varieties of palms, different parts of the palm fruit used, as well as different forms of processing. Therefore it is essential that if we are interested in using any palm oil today, we find out exactly and specifically what we are getting, as the differences are vast in both the health and environmental areas.

The first major difference between palm oil—more appropriately termed palm kernel oil, and (red) palm oil is that palm kernel oil is derived from the kernel or seed of the fruit, where as red palm oil is derived from the pulp (flesh) of the same fruit. This fact alone is responsible for their unique color, odor and flavor differences. Red palm oil is typically organge-red due to its rich carotenoid content. Palm kernel oil on the other hand lacks carotenoids and is not red, but rather clear or yellow colored, depending on how it is refined.

The second difference between the two are their nutrition profiles. The saturated fat content of red palm oil is 40% - 50% saturated, while palm kernel oil is about 81% saturated. (Coconut oil is about 86% saturated fat.)

The third difference between the two is how they are each processed, or "refined". Palm kernel oil is normally refined, deodorized and bleached, where as red palm oil is more commonly virgin or unrefined.

These palm oils are also not the same as coconut oil, which comes from the "nut" or "fruit" of coconut palms.

Red palm oil is considered a tropical oil that is liquid to semi-solid at warm or room temperatures, and solid at cooler temperatures. Like other tropical oils, it is rich in saturated fats, and includes some monounsaturated fats. The oil is naturally orange-red in color, due to the high presence of beta-carotenes (the same compounds found in yellow, orange and red vegetables). It has a very pronounced flavor, that may be reminiscent of carrots, although flavor strength will vary based on purity of the product and whether it is used in its raw or cooked form.

Red palm oil is resistant to rancidity, thanks in part to its saturated fat content and its high antioxidant content. Its melting point is roughly 24°C or 75°F. Its smoke point is reported to be anywhere from 150°C or 300°F, to 235°C or 450°F. (This depends on the refinement used to produce the oil, as well as the quantity we use, and the amount of time it is subjected to heat.)

Countries of origin tend to use the oil in its natural form, enjoying the robust color, flavor and odor. In western countries, it is often refined to neutralize its flavor and odor, or bleach its color. This being done simply for the purpose of "improving" its appearance and acceptance by a society used to light colored, tasteless fats and oils. In such a form however, it is not beneficial to our health, but rather harmful.

Red Palm Oil Nutrition

Red palm oil is highly digestible and composed of a mix of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids of the medium and short chain varieties. It is made of about 40-50% saturated fats, about 40% monounsaturated fats, and about 10% polyunsaturated fats.

When unrefined, or minimally refined, it contains the highest amounts of vitamins A and E of any plant-based oil. In fact, red palm oil is known to be the only oil that has a perfect balance of both tocopherols and tocotrienols, which together compose the many unique forms of vitamin E. Red palm oil is also considered the richest source of beta-carotene in nature, with sources citing that it contains anywhere from 13 - 30 times more vitamin A-producing carotenes than carrots.

It does not require hydrogenation, and naturally contains no trans fatty acids. According to Alpha Health and Okonatur, virgin, red palm oil has the following fatty acid profile:

  • Lauric MCT (medium chain triglyceride) = 0 - 3%
  • Myristic FA (fatty acid) = 1.1%
  • Palmitic FA = 43.3 - 44%
  • Stearic FA = 4.3 - 5%
  • Oleic FA = 39 - 40%
  • Linoleic FA (omega-6) = 10 - 10.3%

According to Alpha Health, it has the following vitamin A and vitamin E profile:

  • Carotenes 100ppm
  • Tocotrienols 400ppm

According to Okonatur, organic, virgin red palm oil contains carotenoid concentrations of 700-1000ppm.

Overall, red palm oil is a source of, or rich in:

  • phytonutrients
  • antioxidants
  • natural carotenes (pro-vitamin A)
  • tocopherols and tocotrienols (vitamin E)
  • co-enzyme Q10
  • omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids

NOTE: The nutrition profile of red palm oil will vary from slightly to drastically depending on the origin of the oil and the processing or refinement applied. The highest quality oils will offer the highest quantities of nutrients, and low quality oils will try to piggyback off of the health claims about the product, without delivering the same amounts of nutrients.

Red palm oil's impressive nutrition profile (for an oil), does not go unquestioned, as there are various health experts, organizations and studies that oppose the health claims associated with red palm oil. It is therefore very important to always know what bias or personal stake your source of information may have, before taking their information or using it as your personal truth.

Red Palm Oil Health Benefits

The nutrition properties of red palm oil work within our bodies to promote and enhance overall good health, including normal growth and cell regeneration, brain health, cardiovascular health, eye health, and skin health.

Based on its high antioxidant activity, beneficial fat profile, as well as some scientific findings, red palm oil:

  • may lower cholesterol levels
  • may protect against heart attacks
  • may protect against strokes
  • may help maintain proper blood pressure
  • may help improve blood circulation
  • may help protect against cancer
  • may help protect against osteoporosis and arthritis
  • may help protect against asthma and enhance lung health
  • may help improve blood sugar control
  • may help protect against cataracts and macular degeneration
  • may help protect against mental deterioration, like Alzheimer's
  • may help protect against liver disease
  • may help improve nutrient absorption
  • may help slow down the premature aging processes
  • may help protect the skin against damaging UV rays
  • may offer immune boosting benefits

To learn in more detail about some of the supporting and refuting studies, I invite you to read the first two resources listed in the further reading section at the bottom of this essay.

Origin & Processing

Origin

Today, red palm oil mainly comes from one of three geographical locations:

  • tropical areas of Africa, like Nigeria
  • south-east Asia, like Malaysia or Indonesia
  • tropical areas of South America, like Ecuador

The source of the location will have a huge impact on how the oil industry is run, the processing used, as well as the possible environmental degradation involved.

Organic or Conventional?

According to Nutiva, most palm oil is non-organic, which results in farmers spraying Roundup™ or other harsh herbicides at the base of each tree twice a year. According to Tropical Traditions and Juka's, it is a challenge to source out a certified organic farmer in Africa.

So while ideally we should aim to always purchase oils that are organic and virgin, this is not a simple task when it comes to red palm oil currently. As you will see from the brand examples I will discuss below, it seems to be either one quality or the other that we can get in the oil, but not both (aside from one example).

At this time palm oil is considered GMO free.

Virgin or Refined?

Virgin red palm oil is traditionally made by being hand-pressed, without the use of extreme heat or any chemicals. This allows it to maintain the natural nutrients of carotenes (precursors to Vitamin A) and the tocopherols and tocotrienols (Vitamin E). It is optimal for our health to always choose a virgin oil.

Until the early part of the 20th century, palm oil was processed only by traditional methods where loose fruits were collected from the ground or a few bunches were cut from the tree. From the 1920s however, experimentation began with steam cookers and hand presses designed to make production at the village level more efficient in terms of labor use and oil yield.

In recent decades, the rapid increase in palm oil production has resulted in large factory settings, where the oil is refined. RBD (refined, bleached, deodorized) palm oil has the nutrients stripped, resulting in a different taste, colour and nutrition profile of the oil.

Regardless of whether it is hand-pressed or machine-processed, all red palm oil production goes through the following 4 steps:

  1. Separation of individual fruits from the bunch

    • may be carried out manually, or mechanically, and may involve some fermentation or sterilizing under steam pressure
  2. Softening of the fruit flesh

    • normally involves various forms of cooking, such a steaming or boiling, along with mechanical intervention
  3. Pressing out of the oily liquid

    • can be done using various manual or motorized presses/expellers (ex: the Duchscher press, hand-operated hydraulic press, motorized hydraulic press, etc.)
  4. Purification of the oil

    • normally involves various settling tanks and centrifuges (and chemicals if RBD oil)

Sustainability Concerns

For starters, for those of us who are conscious and committed to consuming local foods and supporting local economies, red palm oil clearly does not fit that criteria for anyone living outside of the three geographical locations from where it is sourced. If it wasn't for modern, petroleum-based global transport systems, which have numerous sustainability issues themselves, we would not have the convenience of this product. Of course it can also be argued that more good comes from supporting those in developing countries by purchasing fair trade and sustainably harvested goods, like red palm oil. Ultimately, there is no clear cut or black and white answer here. Each one of us will need to decide consciously, after considering all sides, what we feel most represents us and the greater good in making our decision about this product.

Secondly, red palm oil (and palm kernel oil) grown in south-east Asia is today commonly associated with rainforest and Orangutan habitat destruction. It is at the center of a large sustainability debate as rainforests are being cleared in order to grow the palm trees. The trend has accelerated in the last decade as palm oil has been used not just for human consumption, but also as a bio-fuel.

Due to the fact that the palm oil tree was introduced to south-east Asia where it has been growing successfully, they are mainly harvested there in the form of large, corporate plantations. Being produced and treated like a "large farm operation", this is part of the big reason why the practices from this region are considered most unsustainable, being driven primarily by profit. The other reason is that forests, with Orangutan habitats are being clear cut or burned, to provide space for palm oil plantations.

Thirdly, palm oil as a renewable resource substitute for petroleum-derived diesel is receiving criticism from various organizations worldwide. The 3 core issues involve:

  • the extinction of Orangutans
  • deforestation
  • the food vs. fuel dispute

While a Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was formed in 2004 to promote the growth and use of sustainable palm oil products, each one of us who is interested in purchasing this oil needs to look for brands that produce it sustainably. I personally do not support the production, purchase or use of most palm oil products, and always encourage consumers to read all of your food and personal care ingredients, as palm oil today is often found in numerous items.

If your red palm oil comes from any part of Asia, make sure that it is RSPO certified.

Learn more here about the ecological ramifications of red palm oil production.

You can also take an active role in protecting the Orangutans and their habitats by visiting Orangutan Outreach.

Red Palm Oil Uses

Like other tropical oils, red palm oil is credited with being a good cooking oil, as it is considered to be heat stable. This means that it has a high heat tolerance, and does not easily break down or oxidize into harmful compounds, or easily lose its nutritional benefits. To understand this fully though, we have to examine the complete story surrounding this claim.

It is a commonly held understanding that the more refined an oil is, the higher its smoke point will be, and the less refined it is and more "natural", the lower its heat stability and smoke point. Therefore, if you are going to buy red palm oil that is virgin, or of the highest quality, you cannot assume that it is safe to be used for any high or prolonged heat use. However, not all sources agree about these facts. Tropical Traditions red palm oil is virgin (unrefined) yet claims to have a higher smoke point than Nutiva's non-virgin red palm oil.

Secondly, the longer you use high (or even medium) heat, the more you will destroy the natural antioxidants and healthy fats in the oil defeating the purpose of its use in the first place. If your oil starts to smoke, it begins to denature the fats it is composed of, and generates various free radicals that are damaging to your body.

So while the virgin oil can be stable under high heat, it is still best used for light to moderate cooking, like a stir-fry, sauté, or gentle grilling. It is not an ideal option for any kind of cooking or frying, that involves prolonged, high temperature use. (Virgin red palm oil should not be reused after one frying.) Hopefully if we are optimally health conscious, we are not subjecting any of our food to prolonged or high heat, period.

To maximize on its nutrition and health benefits, it is best to consume this oil in its raw form, or gently cooked form, such as adding it into your meal at the end of your cooking.

In its melted or liquid form, it can be used to make salad dressings, or drizzled directly on salads or as part of soups and stews. Note, that the deep color will be reflected in your meals, and will naturally "dye" various shades of yellow any light food items like quinoa, white mushrooms, popcorn, rice, etc.

In its solid form, it can be substituted for similar fat spreads like butter or margarine, where it trumps in health benefits over such choices.

Red palm oil does not need to be kept in the refrigerator, and will typically stay fresh for months, if not years, under the right storage conditions (cool, dark place).

Red Palm Oil Brands

There are several, what can be considered "reputable and high quality" red palm oils on the market today. I will share with you about four brands, which generally meet this criteria. Each however possesses quite distinct differences that we should compare and contrast to make the best choice for our optimal, personal use. As you read about each one you may come to the conclusion that it is not necessarily easy to pick the "best" one out of them. What one makes up for in perhaps better quality, it may lack in professionalism or transparency. Ultimately, all of them do try to make their product sound outstanding, as is the natural tendency for anyone trying to sell a product. It is therefore up to us to be well informed and discerning consumers, and make sure we get what is not only the best for us, but also for our planet. (See more brands in the FAQ section below.)

Alpha Red Palm Oil

Alpha Health Products is a company out of British Columbia in Canada, founded by Siegfried Gursche. They have specialized in high quality oils for over 50 years and have been leaders in the natural health movement.

Alpha Red Palm Oil comes from Asia. The founder shares that "Our suppliers are a Malaysian subsidiary of a German company." The oil is unrefined and cold pressed, but no other information is available about the oil's processing beyond that. It is kosher and halal certified, and comes in a glass jar.

Alpha Red Palm Oil:

  • is unrefined (though not labelled virgin)
  • is cold pressed
  • is not certified organic
  • is non-hydrogenated and trans fat free
  • is Kosher certified
  • is Halal certified
  • comes from an RSPO certified source

Packaging:

  • small size (16 fl oz) comes in a glass jar

Nutrition composition per serving (1 TBS/14g) is:

  • 130 calories
  • 14g fat
  • 0g cholesterol, sodium, fiber, carbohydrate, protein
  • unknown exact quantities of vitamins A and E

Nutiva Red Palm Oil

Nutiva is a company out of California in the US, founded by John Roulac. The company has specialized in providing high quality superfoods since 1999, while being environmentally conscious and sustainable.

Nutiva's Red Palm Oil comes from Ecuador. Nutiva shares that the palms grow on small organic, family farms in north-west Ecuador. They ensure that no deforestation or habitat destruction results from the growing or harvesting process. To extract the oil, fresh-harvested organic palm fruit bunches are steamed to release the oil from the fruit then expeller-pressed to further separate the oil. Nutiva uses a proprietary cold-filtering process that maintains the beneficial nutritional qualities while removing most of the strong scent and flavor. The end result is a buttery oil, rich in antioxidants and with a mild carroty flavor.

Nutiva Red Palm Oil:

  • is not virgin, but mildly refined
  • is steamed and expeller pressed
  • is certified organic
  • is non-hydrogenated and trans fat free
  • is hexane free
  • has a smoke-point of about 150°C or 302°F

Packaging:

  • small size (15 fl oz)comes in a glass jar
  • large bulk size (1 gallon) come in a plastic bucket

Nutrition composition per serving (1 TBS/14g) is:

  • 130 calories
  • 14g fat (7g saturated, 1.5g polyunsaturated, 5g monounsaturated)
  • 0g cholesterol, sodium, fiber, carbohydrate, protein
  • unknown exact quantities of vitamins A and E

Okonatur Red Palm Oil

Okonatur is a division of Organics Overseas Inc. out of Florida in the US. There is no information provided about the founders or much information about it, aside from sharing that their "philosophy involves the respect and care for the land and the environment" and that they "assumed the commitment of achieving certified organic products in keep with European and American standards." They have been producing red palm oil since 2006, and are also a producer of other health foods and products.

Okonatur's Red Palm Oil most likely comes from some part of Asia, given that they have an RSPO certification. While their product sounds the "best" of the four discussed here—being both organic and virgin, they do not provide clear information about where it comes from, or how it is processed. They simply share that "it is not processed with heat or solvents such as hexane".

Okonatur Red Palm Oil:

  • is virgin (extra virgin based on US labelling allowance)
  • is pure, natural and raw
  • is certified organic
  • is non-hydrogenated and trans fat free
  • is Kosher
  • is RSPO certified

Packaging:

  • small size (16 fl oz)comes in a glass jar

Nutrition composition per serving (1 TBS/14g) is:

  • 130 calories
  • 14g fat
  • 0g cholesterol, sodium, fiber, carbohydrate, protein
  • unknown exact quantities of vitamins A and E

Tropical Traditions

Tropical Traditions is a company out of Wisconsin, US. It was founded by Brian and Marianita Shilhavy. Marianita is from the Philippines, and the couple have a direct understanding of traditional tropical oil production, especially coconut oil. Today the company has several offices throughout the US, as well as a licensed Canadian distributor. They are dedicated to providing wholesome, natural food products and many other health-related products. They have a strong commitment to family farming and organic standards, as well as sustainable practices.

Tropical Traditions Red Palm Oil comes from west Africa. The company shares that the oil is produced by small-scale family producers in Africa. On their Canadian website they share: "The source is certified by the *African Wildlife Society for preserving wildlife, and in 2002 was awarded in the World Summit for promoting sustainable agriculture.Child labor is not allowed, and there is a firm commitment to social values and the environment in West Africa."* Their oil is labelled as "virgin", meaning unrefined, however they do not offer any details on how it is processed. They simply state that it is "made in the traditional way". When I called the Canadian division and asked about what this means, I was informed that it means the oil is extracted by hand pressed/manual means, not any mechanical use. On the Canadian website the oil is marketed as certified organic, but not on the US website. When I inquired about this on my call, the representative explained that they used to have a farmer who was certified organic, but lost that contact and are in the process of sourcing out a farmer who can get organic certification. At this point however the oil cannot be certified organic, hence the reason why the Canadian site shows an ongoing backorder of the product.

Tropical Traditions Red Palm Oil:

  • is virgin (unrefined)
  • is manually extracted
  • is currently not certified organic
  • is non-hydrogenated and trans fat free
  • has a smoke-point of about 218°C or 425°F

Packaging:

  • small size (16 fl oz)comes in a glass jar
  • medium size (32 fl oz/1 quart) comes in a glass jar
  • large bulk sizes (1 & 5 gallon) come in a plastic bucket

Nutrition composition per serving (1 TBS/14g) is:

  • 130 calories
  • 14g fat (3.5g saturated)
  • 0g cholesterol, sodium, fiber, carbohydrate, protein
  • 8480IU Vitamin A
  • 4.1mg Beta Carotene
  • 1.9mg Alpha Carotene
  • 2.9mg Other Carotene
  • 1.3IU Vitamin E (mixed tocopherol)
  • 1mg Tocopherols
  • 5mg Tocotrienols

Where to Buy Red Palm Oil

To support "local" and increase our actions of sustainability, I recommend Alpha (Canadian company) for Canadian customers, and Nutiva or Okonatur (US companies) for US customers. Tropical Traditions is a US based company, but also has a Canadian division, so that can be an option for both. You will also find that while Nutiva is widely available in Canada, Alpha is not widely available in the US, and Tropical Traditions or Okonatur are not widely available in Canada. So which one you choose will depend on your personal preference, price point, and ease of purchase. Depending on your location, they can be found at your local health food store, or select online stores, such as the options below:

Canadian Customers:

Alpha Red Palm Oil from Well.ca — $14.99 per 475ml jar (regular price at time of posting)*

Nutiva Red Palm Oil from Well.ca — $11.49 per 444ml jar (regular price at time of posting)*

*Well.ca offers both of these products on sale at select times throughout the year, and has free shipping on orders over $25.

US Customers:

Nutiva Red Palm Oil from Nutiva.com — $8.99 for 15 fl oz (regular price at time of posting)

Nutiva Red Palm Oil from Amazon.com - $11.93 for 15 fl oz (regular price at time of posting)

Okonatur Red Palm Oil — $14.00 for 16 fl oz glass jar (regular price at time of posting)

Tropical Traditions Red Palm Oil — $19.95 for 16 fl oz (regular price at time of posting)

My Personal Experience

Red palm oil has become the "latest" talked about and promoted health food that has many curious about its use and rushing to add it as part of their dietary options. After some questions from readers, and out of curiosity myself, I purchased a jar of Nutiva's Organic Red Palm Oil.

I tried it in its raw form first, just as is on a spoonful. The odor was mild, nothing too distinct or easily describable. The flavor wasn't one that had me thinking anything in the range of delicious, but it wasn't unpleasant either. Since this product was a complete first for me, I decided to be easy with it to allow myself to get used to it. I did not try it in its raw form as a dressing in salads, as I much prefer liquid oils like organic, virgin olive oil, or Udo's oil on my salads. I also did not try it in its raw form for any of my raw desserts, as organic, virgin coconut oil is my only choice there. When I tried it raw, on its own again after a few weeks, not much changed. I can easily enjoy a teaspoonful of organic, virgin coconut oil anytime, but not the red palm oil.

I did not find the consistency/texture of this particular red palm oil in its "raw" form to be like a smooth and silky fat, like one would experience with a high quality coconut oil or dairy butter. I suspect this has to do with the different fat composition, than the examples I just mentioned. It is like a fat, but with a more if I can say, "powdery" texture to it.

When cooked with, it was very pleasant. There was no detectable flavour and the melted consistency was like any other liquid oil. I tried it in place of my usual choice for cooking oil, organic, virgin coconut oil, for light cooking and sautéing. I tried it with various stir-fry combinations of mushrooms, grains, potatoes and vegetables. Each time, it made a fantastic meal, and added a beautiful and rich hint of yellow-orange color to the meal.

I also heard feedback about it being a nice choice for homemade, stove-popped organic popcorn. To make such organic popcorn, I normally heat about a tablespoon of organic, virgin coconut oil on medium heat (setting 4). When I tried doing the same with the red palm oil, it began to smoke before the oil seemed ready for the kernels. Anyway I tried it again with a little more of the red palm oil this time and I also reduced the heat to 3 (low-medium). This resulted in slower popping and can in turn burn the corn kernels, but it got the job done. It gave most of the popcorn a nice yellow hint of colour, but the flavor and residue on the popcorn had a little "fatty-like" substance, which was not pleasant in my opinion.

So after going through a whole jar of it, while it was good for the cooking experiences I tried it in, there is nothing about this oil that stood out for me as being "worth" it to be included in my diet. Not from a nutrition standpoint, or flavour, or consistency, or usage. For someone like myself who eats a 100% plant based diet, composed of whole, natural foods only, there are numerous daily sources of vitamin A, vitamin E, antioxidants, all of the diverse phytonutrients and healthy fats. A diet like that alone supports optimal health and ensures all of the health benefits mentioned above that this oil "may" provide. I get that and so much more without the oil—as can you. As for cooking purposes or raw desserts, I much prefer organic, virgin coconut oil and will be sticking with that.

Conclusion

After researching and personally trying one of the popular red palm oil choices available, I can say with certainty that this is not a food product that we should be rushing out to buy, or including in our culinary practices on any regular basis.

For starters, we should be reducing ALL extracted or isolated oils and oil products in our diets, regardless of how healthy they are claimed to be, and focus instead on whole food sources of healthy fats, like nuts, seeds, avocados, as well as leafy greens, which contain healthy fats, and numerous other plant foods.

Secondly, there is nothing in this oil that we cannot get from other sources of nutrition, that may be more in alignment with your body's needs, as well as environmental sustainability. For example, there are many, better suited sources of vitamin A, vitamin E, and healthy fats from whole food sources like coloured vegetables, avocados, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds, just to name a few.

Thirdly, it does not have a flavor that I suspect will be sought after by most, or a usage that is irreplaceable. Coconut oil, which unlike red palm oil can be easily found in its virgin and organic form from high quality sources, and without the above mentioned concerns, like environmental destruction, can easily do the job for all cooking. Not to mention it has in my opinion a much better overall usage range, consistency and flavor.

However, having said all of the above, it does not mean that it should be completely ruled out, as it no doubt has some wonderful nutrition and health properties. I may personally not be interested in using this oil, but it may be the right choice for you, for occasional use. This is true especially for anyone who:

  • is looking for a healthy oil to cook with, but may have an allergy to, or dislike of organic, virgin coconut oil
  • is looking for a "coconut-like oil", but is uncomfortable for whatever reason with a high saturated fat content (about 86% for coconut oil vs. 40%-50% for red palm oil)
  • has a poor diet, or is lacking in quality antioxidants, vitamin A, or vitamin E
  • has a vitamin A or vitamin E deficiency
  • is pregnant or nursing, and wants to supplement with natural, whole food sources of high quality nutrients, rather than pill forms

In the end, before you make your choice about any new, marketed "miracle health product" our society tries to promote or capture your attention with, you always have to ask yourself 2 important questions:

  1. What are the possible downsides, risks, or negative attributes of this product that are hidden, not focused on, or spoken about?

  2. Can I get the same proposed benefits in some other way, that would be more in alignment with my body, health, wallet, sustainability factors, etc.?

There is no need to fall prey to the lucrative marketing and clever health claims of the numerous products that are pushed in our society today as "healthy" or part of the latest craze. It doesn't matter if the company claims how amazing it is, or Dr. Oz does, or your naturopath, or your best friend. You have to learn about the product for yourself from numerous sources, and decide as a conscious and discerning consumer if it is indeed something that will enhance your health and quality of life, while causing you and our planet the least (if any) harm, or deteriorate it in some way.

Resources, References & Further Reading

  1. Red Palm OilA Daily Dose of Vitamins from a Cooking Oil by Dr. Bruce Fife

  2. History of Palm Oil from The Cambridge World History of Food by Kenneth F. Kiple

  3. Why You Should Give Red Palm Oil a Try - by Bryce Wylde

  4. Organic Red Palm Oil — by the Nutiva Team

  5. Red Palm Oil — on Wikipedia

Questions & Answers

What other brands of red palm oil are recommended or not recommended?

In this section, you will find information about other brands of red palm oil. I will update with new additions as they become known to me. Beside each brand you will see "recommended", "not recommended" or a blank. Recommended will reflect any oils that stand out as superior, not recommended will reflect any oils that are most likely inferior when it comes to quality or sustainability, blanks will reflect oils about which I do not have an opinion due to lack of info, company credibility or other factors. (The brands are listed in alphabetical order.)

Please remember, that just like with coconut oil, new companies and producers are popping up each day and it is impossible to cover them all, or do so accurately with the rapid market changes. Therefore if you do not see an oil you are interested in listed here, apply what I have shared in the guide above and make your own consciously informed decision about the product.

  1. Juka's Organic Co. Red Palm Oil

    Virgin? labelled as unrefined
    Organic? labelled as such, but not certified as such
    Processing? traditional methods (not fully explained)
    Oil Origin? west Africa
    Packaging? plastic jar
    Sustainable? claim to be
    Product Info? fair

  2. Jungle Products Red Palm Oil

    Virgin? labelled as extra virgin
    Organic? labelled as such, and certified as such on some jars (not clear)
    Processing? manual (by hand), fully explained
    Oil Origin? Brazil
    Packaging? glass jar
    Sustainable? RSPO certified, IBD certified
    Product Info? very good

  3. New Roots Red Palm Oil - not recommended

    Virgin? not labelled as such
    Organic? not labelled as such, or certified as such
    Processing? unknown
    Oil Origin? unknown
    Packaging? glass jar
    Sustainable? unknown
    Product Info? poor

  4. North American Herb & Spice Beta Palm

    Virgin? not labelled as such
    Organic? not labelled as such, or certified as such
    Processing? crude, cold-pressed
    Oil Origin? west Africa
    Packaging? glass jar
    Sustainable? fair trade certified, claim to harvest ethically
    Product Info? fair

  5. Wilderness Family Naturals Red Palm Oil

    Virgin? not labelled as such
    Organic? not labelled as such, or certified as such
    Processing? minimal (not fully explained)
    Oil Origin? Malaysia
    Packaging? glass jar
    Sustainable? RSPO certified
    Product Info? very good

Published Aug 12th 2013
Updated May 25th 2014
Evita Ochel
Author Evita Ochel
Evita is a consciousness expansion teacher. Her diverse passions and expertise include being a writer, speaker, holistic nutritionist, web TV host, and author of the book Healing & Prevention Through Nutrition. Her health oriented teaching focuses on natural, whole, plant-based and organic nutrition for optimal health and longevity. Her spiritually oriented teaching focuses on consciousness expansion and heart-centered living for optimal joy and inner peace. Evita is also the creator of several online publications: Evolving Beings, Evolving Wellness, Evolving Channels and Evolving Scenes, as well as Healthytarian—a lifestyle for the well-being of the mind, body and spirit.

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