The Benefits of Palm Oil for Health, Not Yet Realized by the Public

Rabu, 10 Juni 2020 | 13:51

JAKARTA - A statement stating that the development of the palm oil industry is a risk factor for the spread of non-communicable diseases (NCD) has drawn criticism. The reason is, there is a bias over the selection of the palm oil industry which is said to be similar to the alcohol and tobacco industries, not to mention there are inaccuracies in using scientific writing methods. For this reason, it is necessary to label palm oil products with green campaign attributes that promote the health of palm oil.

Palm Oil Research Center Researcher (PPKS) Medan Sachnaz Desta Oktarina said, as the most efficient vegetable oil commodity, palm oil is worthy of being excellent among other vegetable oils. It can be said that the toughest competitor in palm oil in terms of price is soybean oil, but overall the trend of vegetable oil prices between one another shows the same trend. Vegetable oil is becoming more attractive after being able to become an alternative to animal oil with the consideration of more economical prices and lower health threats. But behind it all, the issue of vegetable oil is also growing, one of which is the relationship between vegetable oil and NCD.

He explained, NCD was suspected to be the heaviest burden on the world, specifically four chronic diseases namely cardiovascular, diabetes, lung disorders, and cancer. One of the risk factors for NCD is a diet with excessive levels of saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. "Specifically the relation between palm oil and NCD is still highly debatable. Palm oil does contain saturated fatty acid levels, but the amount is balanced with unsaturated fatty acids or has an almost unity ratio. The balance of the two fatty acids can be converted into additional energy to meet daily nutritional needs, "he said in Jakarta yesterday.

Other antiradical compounds in palm oil are coenzym Q10 or ubiquinone. Aside from being an antioxidant, ubiquinone is believed to be able to treat cardiovascular disease and cancer because of its ability to help the process of membrane regeneration and stabilization. "The myriad of health benefits brought by palm oil make the findings of the article in the WHO Bulletin unreasonable when compared to soybean as the toughest rival of palm oil, negative externalities from soybean oil are actually more appropriate for the topic in the article," Sachtaz said.

The development of soybean genetically modified organism (GMO) varieties as the main competitor of oil palm should be considered a commodity risk factor for NCD. For shortening and margarine products, soybean oil requires a hydrogenation process that has the potential to cause cancer-causing trans fat. In this gap, palm oil again can provide benefits. "Therefore, it is necessary to label palm oil products with green campaign attributes or campaigns that prioritize the health of palm oil," he explained.

According to Sachnaz, customers can catch tagline messages, such as bromote social empowerment, free from child labor force, free from animal cruelty, and free from biodiversity loss. Labeling will attach the altruistic utility attributes of consumers. At the same time, fend off negative externality hoaks that are often addressed to palm oil. This green palm campaign package must naturally be accompanied by government commitment through fiscal policy support. Related policies can be implemented by providing incentives for companies or smallholders who comply with the green campaign values, "he said. Another incentive is to reduce palm export tariffs that not only provide a domino effect on palm oil downstreaming, but build farmers' awareness of the importance of environmental and health aspects.

Meanwhile, Director of the Medan Palm Oil Research Center (PPKS) Hasril Hasan Siregar added, the campaign could fend off negative attacks on palm oil. The writings of the PPKS researchers are expected to help the government and stakeholders align, both directly and indirectly, the negative and black campaign impacts on oil palm. "It is certainly very urgent and must be done immediately. Although, we are also grateful that the government (Menko and Ministers) and stakeholders, such as Gapki, GIMNI, Aprobi, and the oil palm association have and continue to try to face the negative and black campaign, "Hasril said. (eme)

Source GAPKI