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By Oskar Song

Fats play a major role in a healthy lifestyle. They provide energy and are very important because it helps you and your family, the young and the elderly, to maintain a healthy heart, brain and immune system. It is generally accepted that fats take up about 30 percent of an adult’s daily caloric intake or about 60 to 80 grams of fat per day.

The “good fats” are monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. They are good for your heart and to maintain low cholesterol levels in your body. These fats are known to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke by lowering bad Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels and by increasing the good High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL), which makes your blood flow smoothly.

Polyunsaturated fats are required to maintain healthy cells in your body, muscle movement, and prevent blood clotting. In other words, they are vital for most bodily functions, and the only way to get them is from food because your body cannot produce them.

But not all fats are good for you. One typical example is trans-fat. When consumed in high amounts, they can be harmful. This is because research has found that trans-fats can cause inflammation in your body, which is linked to heart disease, stroke, liver dysfunction, obesity, and other chronic conditions. They are also known to increase your insulin resistance, which in turn increases the risk of developing type-2 diabetes.

According to the Harvard Medical School, even a small amount of trans fat can cause harm to your health. The risk of heart disease can increase by 23 percent for every 2 percent of calories from trans-fat consumed daily. Bad fats like trans-fat have the opposite effects of good fats in that they raise harmful LDL level and lower beneficial HDL levels in your body, increasing the risks of heart disease. In short, a balanced diet requires the presence of all fats, except for trans-fat.

Many food manufacturers are now looking for alternatives to help consumers lead a healthy lifestyle with trans-fat-free products. The golden palm oil has been playing an increasing role in this aspect. This is because palm oil is trans-fat-free and, at the same time, plays an important role as a functional ingredient. It is also relatively more stable to high temperatures hence less prone to oxidation. Thus palm oil is very suitable as a frying fat that can be used to fry foods in our daily lives.

“Fat from palm oil is an important functional ingredient, acting as a carrier of flavours, making your food taste better, as well as providing the desirable textures and mouthfeel to food products. Fats also help to satisfy appetites or the desire to eat because they add flavour to foods,” says Patrick Leong, Senior Manager, Group R&D / Application at Novel IDEAS Center.

We all know a healthy body does not rely on fats alone. It also needs to absorb other vitamins and minerals to keep the major organs such as the brain and heart healthy. It is fats that facilitate the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E, and K. Palm oil itself contains natural Tocotrienols essential to vitamin E. Palm kernel oil on the other hand contains Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT). Both tocotrienols and MCTs are vital for nourishing the brain, boosting our immune system, and providing other benefits. Red palm oil contains antioxidants called carotenoids, which your body can convert into vitamin A.

“Trans-fats in food are banned or have their amounts restricted in many countries around the world. As a result, we see many food manufacturers turning to palm oil as a natural alternative for their food applications that require solid or semi-solid fats. This would replace partially hydrogenated oils such as soybean, sunflower, and rapeseed,” says Patrick.

“Many fat-containing food materials possess levels of saturated and unsaturated fats. Musim Mas works with our customers and assists them in balancing nutritional concerns in their formulation while maintaining the required functions,” he adds.