Dr. Mehmet Oz, on a recent episode of his television show, touted the "miracle" of red palm oil. Besides questioning the medical claims, conservation groups are also voicing their concern over Dr. Oz’s recommendation of the supposed diet miracle.
On Jan. 3, Oz said red palm oil could be a diet miracle. The oil can be used much like olive oil, it is high in beta carotene and vitamin E, can boost metabolism, reduces cholesterol and also reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, he asserted. All of these things point to quite the effective product, one that should be bottled by every company possible and bought by every household. Except the science behind these claims is preliminary, at best, and Oz’s recommendation of red palm oil may be a bit hasty.
As previously reported on IBTimes, all the research has been conducted on animals, and as such, there is no real way of knowing how effective red palm oil is as a diet supplement, let alone as a diet miracle. Ingesting large doses of vitamins, well beyond the recommended daily dosage, could also have harmful effects. As stated by the American Cancer Society, too much vitamin E may actually increase the risk of certain types of cancer.
While red palm oil may not pass the scrutiny of science there is another concern surrounding the Dr. Oz "diet miracle." The cultivation of red palm oil may destroy vast stretches of jungle and endanger the wildlife inhabiting those areas.
In a recent announcement, Rainforest Action Network and Orangutan Outreach have set up an online petition urging Oz to retract his support of red palm oil. According to RAN and Orangutan Outreach, the cultivation of red palm oil is destroying jungles in Borneo and Sumatra. According to the two groups, 90 percent of palm oil originates in Indonesia and Malaysia. The increased demand for this product has led to massive forest clearings, putting ecosystems and wildlife in danger.
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In order to meet the demand, RAN and Orangutan Outreach say palm farmers have had to go even further into the jungle and killing off orangutan in the process. According to the press release, “The forests of Borneo and Sumatra are the only place where these gentle, intelligent creatures live, and the cultivation of palm oil has directly led to the brutal deaths of thousands of individuals as the industry has expanded into previously undisturbed areas of rain forest.”
The groups continue, “When the forest is cleared in order to make room for oil palm plantations, every living creature is captured or killed. Adult orangutans are shot on sight.” The groups argue that the Oz endorsement and the increasing popularity of red palm oil could lead to the extinction of orangutans due to the destruction of their habitat in order to find a diet miracle.