The red palm oil is highly nutritious and offers a lot of health benefits to as many that consumes it. In Nigeria today, i doubt if there is any individual that goes a whole week without consuming palm oil, except be it for any medical reasons. Palm oil is particularly popular in the South Eastern region of Nigeria, the Umunneochi Local Government Area of Abia state in the South Eastern part of Nigeria have a high record of production and sales of this precious, red oil product in the country.
The palm oil is an oil that is extracted majorly from two types of oil palm fruit, which are:
- Elaesis guineensis, that is common in African regions, and
- Elaesis oleifera, which is found in South America.
Historical account suggest that red palm oil was part of the diet of indigenous populations especially in African countries. Presently, palm oil have turned out to be the second most traded oil crop in the world, after soy. Malaysia and Indonesia in the Asian continent is the main producers of this oil products in the world today.
The red palm oil is more healthy compared to olive oil and coconut oil, and it has been proven to be potent in reversing the symptoms of heart disease and protect against certain cancers. In ancient civilization, the red palm oil has been celebrated as a healing tonic, but in this present days, it has been overlooked by practitioners as a result of its mistaken similarities to palm kernel oil. Both of the oils (i.e red palm oil and palm kernel oil) originates from the same oil palm tree Elaesis guineesis, but whereas palm kernel oil is derived from the seeds, palm oil is been extracted from the fruit itself. Recent study have suggested that the two type of oil is not similar as previously thought, because the red palm oil has shown superior health benefits not only to palm kernel oil, but virtually every other edible oil in the world today.
Also read: Health benefits of Nigerian local rice
Nutritional Benefits Of Red Palm Oil
The red palm oil is highly rich in phytonutrients, the majority of its antioxidant superpowers is as a result of its high concentration of carotenes and tocotrienols. These nutrient poses a lot of health benefits to humans.
The tocotrienols are superior forms of vitamin E (which is 40 to 60 times more powerful than tocopherols), that controls free radicals and inflammation (which is the primary cause of heart disease).
Tocotrienols are also a very powerful anti-cancer agents which helps in preventing cancers of the skin, pancreas, stomach, liver, lung, prostate, colon and breast. Over 700 published studies have shown that tocotrienols possesses huge amount of health benefits when combined with other super nutrients found in red palm oil.
The red palm oil also carries labels such as "organic" and "virgin". When it is processed or refined, the palm oil does not only loses its dark colours, but also all its nutritional benefits. Whenever you come across a snack food and red palm oil is been indicated as one of its ingredients, just be sure that such oil is not friendly to the heart health.
Health Benefits Of Red Palm Oil
The study to investigate the health benefits of palm oil started about a decade ago, during the early 2000s, in what appears to be an independent research. Researchers from Monash University in Australia and University of Uyo in Nigeria started to analyze the key components that make palm oil to be so unique and both researchers came up with strikingly similar conclusions. Some of the health benefits of red palm oil are as follows:
1. Immune system builder
The red palm oil have been termed as an overall immune system tonic which improves liver detoxification and can help in treating non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NFLAD). It also protects against arthritis and osteoporosis.
2. Improves the health of the skin
Including red pal oil in your diet can assist in maintaining a healthy, supple skin. Both the tocotrienols and mixed carotenes naturally accumulates in the outermost layer of the epidermis, which eventually shields the hair and skin from harmful ultraviolet rays. This fact can also explain why red palm oil has been linked to reduced risk of cancers of the skin.
3. Reduces the risk of stroke
A lot of research have revealed that the red palm oil significantly reduces the risk of stroke attack. First, as a result of its anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-lowering properties, it reverts and prevents plaque build up (atherosclerosis) in the brain's blood vessels, which reduces the occurrence of ischaemic stroke. Apart from that, the antioxidant tocotrienol confers significant neuroprotection on the brain. Which is the main reason it is employed in the treatment of stroke patients.
4. Improves the heart health
The red palm oil have been proven to improve the cardiovascular heart health in many ways. This benefit is also largely attributed to tocotrienol and mixed carotenes which is found in great quantities in fresh palm oil. The unhealthy inflammation that takes place within the blood vessels has been proven to be the necessary precursor for plaque formation (atherosclerosis), leading to increased peripheral resistance to the flow of blood and obstructing its circulation to vital organs, especially the brain and heart. On the lucky side, the various array of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients in red palm oil does not only prevents but can also reverse the process of atherosclerosis and thereby offer protection against hypertension and heart attack.
5. Reduces the risk of cancer
The most potent anti-cancer nutrient known, tocotrienol in red palm oil, blocks and wards off harmful free radicals, preventing them from causing oxidative injury to vital body organs. By this act, it fights against cancers of the pancreas, breast, skin, stomach, liver, liver, prostate and colon. Apart from hindering the growth of cancer, tocotrienol also initiates apoptosis (a process that leads to a programmed death of mutated cells in the body).
6. Improves vision
Night blindness majorly occurs as a result of deficiency in vitamin A. Red palm oil is loaded with alpha-carotenes which are important precursors in the synthesis of vitamin A. Studies have also linked red palm oil to cause a decrease in the incidence of cataracts and macular degeneration, which are the major leading causes of blindness globally.
7. Protects from degenerative brain disease
Neurodegenerative diseases of the brain like Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's diseases and senile dementia can be prevented when we make fresh red palm oil a regular part of our diet. The oil contains powerful antioxidants that reduces oxidative stress and improves blood circulation to the brain. Improved blood flow to the brain provides oxygen and glucose which are indispensable for proper brain functioning. Therefore, the benefits of palm oil can be seen in proper brain functioning. Individuals with adequate regular intake of red palm oil are less likely to suffer cognitive impairment than others who does not consume it.