WHY IS PALM OIL TARGETED FOR SMEAR CAMPAIGNS?
T his incredible yield, competitive pricing, health characteristics and versatility made palm oil a marked commodity. Competitors were hapless in the face of the market onslaught of palm oil for the oil was to prove highly sought after by food manufacturers and bio-fuel producers.
Phil Sokolof's "Poisoning of America"
However, in truth the first attacks against palm oil probably started innocently enough. In the mid-eighties, American millionaire industrialist, Phil Sokolof suffered a heart attack and the industrialist on being advised by his doctors that it was caused by consumption of saturated fats, began a misguided campaign against tropical oils in processed foods; targeting mainly palm oil and coconut oil.
Sokolof's campaign, "The Poisoning of America," featured nationwide full-page newspaper ads describing the 'dangers' of saturated fats found in tropical oils. 16 Palm oil was subsequently linked to increasing blood cholesterol levels as well as heart disease risk among Americans; a reputation that looms to this day.
Palm oil and health
Palm oil does in fact contain a higher %age of saturated fat in comparison to 'heart-healthy' fats, like olive oil, but half of palm oil's fat content is monounsaturated and polyunsaturated – known to increase HDL, 'the good cholesterol' and benefit the cardiovascular system. Palm oil is also a rich source of vitamin E. Crude palm oil has a deep red hue and is rich in vitamins such as vitamin A (beta-carotene), minerals, antioxidants and other phytonutrients.
Sokolof was correct to belief that palm oil and other tropical oils are high in saturated fats but, in contrast with animal fats, plant sources do not contain cholesterol. Twenty plus years later, countless research has proven that animal sources of saturated fats and trans fats pose far greater heart disease risk than their green counterparts which can be a healthy addition to a varied and balanced diet – something Sokolof's campaign wasn't aware of.
Sokolof's views now discredited
Sokolof's views on palm oil are now largely discredited as reams of scientific studies have shown that palm oil is, in fact heart-friendly as the saturated fatty acids in the sn-1 and sn-3 position (typically found in palm oil) have very different biological consequences than animal fats such as lard and milk fats whose saturated fats are primarily found in the sn-2 position! 17
Palm oil is also the richest source of the heart-friendly anti-oxidant tocotrienols, a superior form of Vitamin E as well as other heart friendly phyto-nutrients such as Co-enzyme Q10, beta-carotenes and other polyphenols.
Sokolof's campaigns becomes playbook for anti-palm oil forces
However, Sokolof's campaigns did raise eyebrows and attracted the attention of not only food manufacturers and fast food chains but also anti-palm oil lobbyists, who were funded by forces who stood to benefit from halting the edible oil market juggernaut of palm oil.First to jump on the bandwagon was the oddly named Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). Helmed by Michael Jacobson, a microbiologist who curiously started CSPI with 2 lawyer friends in 1971, CSPI has developed a reputation for utter disregard of the truth and scientific facts, frequently exaggerating figures and claims to advance their own agenda (with the help of an annual revenue of USD 16 million.)
For a microbiologist, Jacobson was fond of distributing unsound reports without peer review, which is the way real science operates. These have earned him several unflattering epithets such as "Nutrition Terrorist", "Terrorist", "Food Cop", "Killjoy", and &