Is Palm Oil the problem? Or is it much ado about nothing? #MythBuster

palm oil

Isn’t it amazing, the kind of controversies we see around food today? Whether it is the discovery of new “super” foods or fad diets. On odd days, sugar is bad for us and on even, salt. There’s so much noise around everything we eat that it can drive a person up the wall. And in the crossfire, these innocent ingredients suffer. One such victim of collateral damage seems to be palm oil.

A couple of days ago, I had the opportunity to attend an event around Palm Oil that was organised by the Malayisan Palm Oil Council or the MPOC, in short. Why? Perhaps because Malaysia is one of the biggest exporters of this oil. Now obviously, one would wonder- is it not the same palm oil that got so much bad press in the 80’s? Yes, but that’s exactly it! The more pressing issue around palm oil is the bad press surrounding it than the actual oil itself. The event by MPOC was hosted at Sip ‘n’ Dine in Sector-7 and had various interactive sessions to bust the myths about palm oil. But perhaps
the most informative one was by Dr. Bhavna Vyas Shah, Country Representative, India and Sri Lanka.

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Dr. Bhavna Vyas Shah

As a representative and medical professional she was able to bring out various facts and figures around different types of oils. This really helped me to form a balanced opinion regarding palm oil. For instance, did you know that the perfect ratio of all fats in an oil is 1:1:1? And that olive oil followed by palm oil are the closest to this ‘perfect’ ratio?

Also, the fact that olive oil has the highest water footprint amongst all oils- which means that to produce a certain amount of this oil, a lot (like a LOT) of water is used? On the other hand, palm oil is somewhere in the lower range? It’s not only that. If you visit the official website of the MPOC, you will come across various other benefits of Palm Oil:

  1. It is one of the cheapest oils available in the market.
  2. It is easily digestible and does not remain intact in the digestive tract for long.
  3. It has no taste and smell of its own which is why it is extremely popular in the food industry!
  4. Every day, we have atleast one instance of interaction with palm oil. It is used in lipsticks, ramen noodles, margarine, soaps, detergents, frozen desserts and so much more!

So it does make you think- if something is used so often in our daily lives, can it possibly be that bad?!

Now to ensure that we also got to try palm oil first hand, the bloggers were divided into teams and sent on a food treasure hunt! From the venue location, we were given cue cards to other restaurants around for certain tasks. The first clue led us to Crazytown in Sector-7 where we were given a quiz on palm oil. And we answered questions like the natural color of palm oil (bright orange-red) and so much more.

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Our team in action at Crazytown for a quiz!

From there, our clue led us to Safehouse where a blind tasting awaited us. All our food was cooked in palm oil and we were supposed to guess the ingredients. Honestly, the food tasted no different from the regular food. So it was really hard to tell that it was cooked in palm oil which is again one of its biggest advantages- it brings out the actual flavors of a dish.

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Finishing the blind tasting!

The third clue’s answer was The Finch in Sector-26. There we were given many ingredients out of which we had to use 5 ingredients and make a salad. We used vegetables in three colors and made a dressing using palm oil and different condiments. Because the salad had three colors, we chose to call it the ‘Tiranga Basket’ which was termed as “excellent” by the in-house chef of The Finch and Dr. Bhavna Vyas Shah. In my opinion, the salad tasted really good and was quite flavorsome because of the dressing- which is healthy too!

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Making our salad at The Finch using palm oil as dressing
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The final product- Tiranga Basket

Finally, our final clue brought us back to where we began- Sip ‘n’ Dine where chocolate cereal, syrup, cookies and ice cream awaited us. We had to mix them all together and gorge them down. Who knew palm oil was so delicious, right?!

Now even though we didn’t win, I guess the point of the complete activity was to be sort of an eye-opener when it came to palm oil. And in my opinion, it certainly did succeed because now I think that we might have treated this oil a bit too harshly maybe- it is certainly worth being given a chance and more!

– Mrinaal Datt
Follow me on Instagram here.
Read more about me here.

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