By Shahfizal Musa
Pix by Shahiddan Saidi
BANGI, 6 Jan. 2012- Producers of processed food in the country should use palm oil based fats in their food products because they are far healthier than animal fats, a food scientist said today.
Prof Dr Aminah Abdullah, from the Faculty of Science and Technology (FST), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia said palm oil based fats have two properties which are beneficial to the human health; Beta carotene and Tocopherol, a type of vitamin E.
Beta carotene is one of the most important natural antioxidants, the nutrients that can prevent or slow down the oxidative damage to the human body.
Tocopherol has healing benefits at the cellular level and also performs as antioxidant by protecting the cell membranes. This can help the cell to grow in a healthy manner.
Giving her inaugural lecture on Sensory and Food here today, she said when the human body cells use oxygen, they naturally produce free radicals as by-products which can cause damage to health. These antioxidants act as free radical scavengers and prevent the body from repairing the damage caused by them.
Health problems such as heart diseases, diabetes, cancers are all caused by oxidative damage.
She said these nutrients found in palm oil based fats should be used by the processed food industry instead of animal fats.
Prof Aminah said food producers who use animal fats in meat products such as sausages and burgers posed two problems. One they are not healthy when taken in excess and the other is the issue of Halal for Muslims.
Using palm oil based fats is not just healthier but also eliminate the issue of the food not being halal as far as the ingredients are concerned.
She said fats derived from palm oil is much healthier because of the nutrients. Moreover the vegetable based fats can retain their nutrients even when kept frozen for up to three months.
Prof Aminah also said that most people made their dietary decisions based on their senses rather than their intellect.
The intention to choose nutritional food is always over powered by desires and cravings. How a particular food look, taste and smell are factors that will always take precedence over their nutritional values.
Such “impulse eating” coupled with a lack of activity like regular exercises is a lethal cocktail that undermines a healthy lifestyle.
She said the problem of choosing foods with ones’ senses is that it often leads to the person taking more food than he needs. If a particular food is tasty, the tendency is to eat more of it.
Overeating causes obesity which can then open up the doors to many diseases. Using palm oil fat can help solve the problem to a certain degree. Palm oil based fats and foods have the same effect on the senses as other less healthy substitutes.
UKM Vice Chancellor, Prof Tan Sri Dato' Wira Dr Sharifah Hapsah Syed Hasan Shahabudin; FST Dean, Prof Sahrim Ahmad, senior staff, lecturers and students attended the lecture.