Wednesday, January 20, 2010
 High blood cholesterol is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that more than 34 million adults in the U.S. have high cholesterol (over 240 mg/dL). Palm oil has long been known to promote heart disease, however there are other reasons to avoid products made with palm oil.Coconut, palm and palm kernel oils are found in commercial cakes, cookies and snack foods. These tropical oils are solid at room temperature and contain a great deal of saturated fat: coconut oil, 92 percent, palm kernel oil, 82 percent and palm oil, 50 percent. The American Heart Association recommends substantially reducing intake of saturated fat because it tends to raise cholesterol levels.
In Cruel Oil: How Palm Oil Harms Health, Rainforest, & Wildlife, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) reports that production of palm oil also promotes the destruction of rainforests. More than 80 percent of the world's palm oil comes from Malaysia and Indonesia, largely grown on land that was once rainforest. When forests are cleared the habitat for endangered species is destroyed, threatening orangutans and other wildlife.
CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson, who co-authored the report with wildlife ecologist Ellie Brown said, "We applaud food manufacturers for moving away from trans-fat-laden partially hydrogenated oils, and … switching to such heart-healthy oils as soybean, corn, or canola. Consumers and food processors should realize, though, that palm oil still promotes heart disease and that producing palm oil has a devastating impact on rainforest and endangered wildlife."
Since the early 1990’s the spread of palm oil plantations into forests on Borneo and Sumatra have helped to make Indonesia the world’s third-highest greenhouse gas emitter. Ironically, the quest for eco-friendly biofuels, of which palm oil is a component, is also partly to blame. Deep in the forests of Borneo environmental groups are fighting the onslaught of palm plantations by reaching out to villagers with common sense and education. Founded in 1991, Yayasan Orangutan Indonesia (Yayorin) is dedicated to saving Indonesia’s forests and the endangered wildlife. Yayorin promotes orangutan conservation through environmental education and outreach, visiting remote villages, local schools and government institutions.
Established in 2007, the Center for Orangutan Protection (COP) runs a guerrilla-style campaign in the Indonesian part of Borneo. According to COP the orangutan population is estimated at 50,000 and up to 3,000 orangutans die each year because loggers and palm oil developers are destroying their primary habitat. COP investigates new clearings, issues media alerts and documents environmental wrongdoing through video, photography, and GPS.
The Borneo Orangutan Foundation Survival (BOS) is the largest primate rescue project in the world with nearly 1000 orangutans in its care. BOS rescues wild orangutans from palm oil plantations and rehabilitates orphaned orangutans, displaced as a result of the destruction of their habitat to clear land for palm oil production.
The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (TIGERS) is a wildlife education organization, dedicated to promoting global conservation with educational and entertaining interactive programs.
TIGERS operates four public exhibits, two in Myrtle beach, SC, one in Miami FL, and one in Boston, MA. Featuring animal ambassadors who serve as living examples of current worldwide environmental issues. TIGERS animal ambassador Suryia the orangutan and Roscoe the dog became best friends upon meeting each other and their amazing video has become a YouTube sensation.
Marie Oser is a best-selling author, writer/producer and host of VegTV, Follow Marie on Twitter: http://twitter.com/vegtv