18 December 2016

Good fat is good

          I am a believer of balanced diet in every way. I aim to take the goodness of the foods we have and eat everything in balanced proportions. A common habit of most people I have seen is to completely avoid a certain food just because of their perception that it's bad.
          Take cholesterol for eg, the minute the fear of blood cholesterol is instilled in one's mind, the first thing they do is turn away from ghee, butter and oil, especially the former. Likewise with sugar. Sadly though, the same elements make way into their diet through other foods they consume!! The trick is to not avoid but to balance, to work out the ideal proportions to have a bit of everything.
          Any machinery to work well and last long needs proper lubrication. Then why must the most complex machinery of all, the human body be devoid of the same? We all need energy, starch in itself is not bad, the source needs to be good.
          The case of Palm Oil has been similar. Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) arranged a meet to help us understand the mixed perceptions around Palm Oil; facts that our sub-conscious may have heard and registered at some point but faded with time.
           We were given some exhaustive insights into the benefits of Palm Oil by Ms Bhavna Shah, Country Head, MPOC India and Dr. Meena Mehta, well-known nutritionist. Quite a few myths were broken during the session and Q&A that followed.
 Ms. Bhavna Shah
Dr. Meena Mehta
          The usage of Palm oil in cooking has faded in most households in time, what many have not realised is that the same oil makes way into our every day life in one form or the other. Consider this....Palm oil and/or Palm Kernel Oil is/are used in the making of Margarine, vanaspati ghee, soaps, and some personal care products too; Sodium Laureth Sulfate or SLES which is the detergent or surfactant element in most soaps, shampoos and other foaming products is derived from Palm Kernel oil.
Here are a few lesser known facts about Palm Oil :

- Palm Oil is the world's first certified sustainable vegetable oil.
- The Oil Palm tree has a life of nearly 25 years and has one of the highest yields compared to other crops considered for oil production such as, Sunflower, safflower and so on.
- The Oil Palm is known to have comparatively lower water footprint than the Olive trees for eg.
- It is odourless and flavourless, and has a comparatively longer shelf life.
- Palm oil also contributes to the Green revolution by playing its part in bio diesel production
- It has higher content of Vit A &  Vit E tocotrienols (which are also powerful anti-oxidants) than any other plant-based oil.
- Palm oil is resistant to spoilage, are stable at high heat and also trans-fat free.
- Above all, this oil is found to have balanced effects on blood cholesterol levels.

           Now that we see people questioning food practices, aiming to debunk myths and eat what's best, the myths surrounding palm oil need demystifying too. As for availability in India, well known group Adani-Wilmar is rated the largest manufacturer of palm oil in India. At the end of the day, it isnt about which oil is the best. The point is to do away with misconceptions. With Palm oil being a part of our life in so many other invisible ways, it needs to find its way back into our kitchens too!

Note : MPOC is a Malaysia-based organisation that aims to improve understanding of Palm oil, encourage the product diversification and most importantly, seek to clarify the myths and misconceptions surrounding Palm Oil.
You can read more about them at http://www.mpoc.org.in/ and also follow their social media updates at : @thinkpalmoil (Twitter) and MPOC (Facebook)
Last but not the least, there was a sumptuous lunch spread courtesy Vivanta by Taj that marked a perfect end to the session. It was an enjoyable afternoon as much for the enlightenment as for time spent with fellow foodies!