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Canadian Scientists Develop Eco-Friendly Substitute for Palm Oil That’s Good for Human Health


By providing a potential solution that everyone was looking for, two Canadian food scientists have created a substitute for palm oil.

University of Guelph

His invention replicates how the body creates triglycerides and can contain liquid vegetable fats in solid form at room temperature, the main advantage of palm oil.

The researchers’ oil could be used as a replacement for the problematic palm product in a variety of prepared foods such as peanut butters, cookies and pizza dough, as well as in cosmetics and even toothpaste.

If you’ve ever seen the words “no palm oil” displayed proudly on a jar of peanut butter or other foods, it’s because palm oil is perhaps the single largest cause of tropical deforestation in the world.

Nations and companies often try to wash their hands of the cultivation of oil palm due to its tendency to generate deforestation. The English city of Chester proudly proclaims the first “sustainable city of palm oil”, while Norway directly prohibited palm oil imports from plantations linked to deforestation.

A combination of previous scientific findings and outstanding natural qualities created a 20-year explosion in the cultivation and use of palm oil in global food production. 34% of the world’s vegetable oil It comes from oil palm, of which 84% comes from just two countries, Indonesia and Malaysia, where a high-biodiversity rainforest has been cleared to make way for oil palm plantations.

RELATED: Sisters successfully lobby Kellogg’s Food Company to sustainably source all of its palm oil to help orangutans

The benefits of palm oil mounted during the 1980s and 1990s, after nutritionists began to widely warn about the disastrous health effects of eating partially hydrogenated oils and trans fats. Producers began to substitute palm oil for these harmful fats for various reasons.

Able to remain a solid at room temperature due to its high saturated fat content, palm oil quickly became the first choice for manufacturers, especially since production is almost 500% more per acre than the next crop. of the most productive vegetable oil, sunflower. Petroleum.

Looking in

by Alejandro Marangoni, a food scientist at the University of Guelph, the challenge was how to create an oil that would stay solid at room temperature and preferably not have as much saturated fat content as something like coconut oil.

Saturated fat, although necessary in many processes of our biology including the synthesis of testosterone, It is capable of exasperating coronary heart disease risks when consumed in large portions by people with unhealthy lifestyles, such as sedentary days or late-night eating habits.

Marangoni is far from the first scientist to try. Last year two former baristas tried to synthesize a substitute of coffee grounds.

Marangoni on the other hand used a process he called enzymatic glycerolysis, inspired by the way the body produces triglycerides naturally. He combined enzymes with glycerin to produce solid vegetable oil without adding additional saturated fat.

MORE: Bill Gates just invested in a company that grows palm oil in a laboratory to save rainforests

The process would allow food manufacturers to avoid destructive oil palm plantations while keeping prices low, as the Marangoni process could use most vegetable oils such as cottonseed or peanut oil, which also contain less saturated fat, reducing the public health burden.

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