From Prof Ekpa: Palm oil is another black gold
Prof Ekpa: Palm oil is another black gold. Going by the magnitude of natural and human resources with which Nigeria is blessed, there is no doubt that the nation is a giant in coma probably occasioned by bad leadership and followership. Everything she needs to become an industrial great is within her, yet, names like ‘third world country’, ‘poor nation’, ‘backward nation,’ still cling to her like leprosy.
In this chat with Vanguard Learning in Calabar recently, Professor Okon Douglas Ekpa, professor of Industrial Organic Chemistry at the University of Calabar, says that only Nigerians can sincerely make Nigeria great if they believe in themselves. Excerpts:
According to Professor Ekpa, some years ago, he and his team began a research on Palm oil as an industrial raw material. “Palm oil is not only edible, it is also of interest industrially so we decided to look at it as a means of creating raw materials for what we wanted to do in the area of paint, soap, detergent, cosmetics and bio-fuel production.”
Apart From fatty acids, Palm oil contains carotenoids which are sources of vitamin A; it contains the eight components of vitamin E (four tocotrienols and four tocopherols) and co-enzyme Q10, a very strong antioxidant, especially for the heart muscles which other oils do not contain. These are removed during processing of Palm oil. That means that the value of Palm oil is greatly reduced when it is processed.
It is the most prized oil in the international vegetable oil market, the only red vegetable oil on earth as a result of exceptionally high carotene content, very stable to auto-oxidation due to the presence of tocopherols and tocotrienols, and contains probably the most balanced fatty acid composition of any vegetable oil. It has almost the same composition as body cells which are made up of about 50 per cent unsaturated and 50 per cent saturated fatty acids.”
“When you take Palm oil, you are taking a complete food that will not only feed you, but will feed your cellular system and help to fight the so-called aging process.” Ekpa said people get ill either through infection or cellular degeneration caused by free radicals which make cells feeble and unable to stand stress. “It takes about 10 to 15 or even 20 years for the effects to manifest.
That is why when cancer, diabetes, hypertension, or old age manifests, there is not much one can do. Luckily, some who are reading this now have these facts and therefore do not have to grow old because if you can do something to protect yourself From free radicals which cause cellular degeneration, you won’t grow old fast,” he said.
When you look at olive oil (from Mediterranean) or soybean oil (US), Palm oil yields more oil per hectare than any other oil so the cost of production is much lower. Therefore, in this era of biofuel, Palm oil is the best in terms of cost effectiveness. The fruit has the outer layer that gives us the Palm oil and the nut that gives us Palm kernel oil. When you add the two oils From one fruit, no other source of vegetable oil in the world can match it. So in terms of cost of production and the amount of oil produced per hectare of Palm plantation, there is no other source of oil that matches it.”
However, despite all the goodies in Palm oil, there is a death sentence hanging over its head occasioned by western propaganda. Said Prof. Ekpa: “As we were going into the research, we realised the very serious fabrications by the industrialised world against Palm oil.
“Unfortunately, it is a product mostly cultivated by Third World countries. The entry of the US with soybean oil in the early 1960s brought about the issue of polyunsaturated fatty acids and human diet. They started by implicating palmitic acid as the acid that raises blood cholesterol. The white man simply took palmitic acid portion of the oil and tested it on rats and said ‘oh, palmitic acid raises cholesterol level’ but Palm oil is not just palmitic acid.
“There is what is called synergistic effect. If you take all the components of Palm oil and put them together, the effect of palmitic acid will be cancelled. When it was countered that Palm oil and olive oil have similar effects on blood cholesterol, they came up with the issue of bad and good cholesterol (LDL and HDL) but Palm oil by itself, does not contain cholesterol,” he said.
He continued: “In the late 1990s, researchers From Japan, Malaysia and other level-minded elements From US and Britain came out with results to show that up to 50% of the so-called bad fat came From unseen diet sources dear to the industrialised world like pastries, meat, sausages, eggs, milk, butter, shortenings, margarines, etc.”
He pointed out that hydrogenation of oil produces trans-fat which has been implicated in some forms of breast cancer. Egg yolk and most of the meat we eat contain so much cholesterol but nobody is saying anything about them.
Prof. Douglas Ekpa
“They then began to bring in environmental issues, ‘oh, you are clearing so much forest that could absorb carbon dioxide to plant Palm trees. When they were planting soybeans and olive trees, they had to clear the forest, so what is wrong with Palm trees?” he asked adding: “This is a perspective From a Nigerian who was raised in the US and knows the politics of the world now telling you this is what it is.”
Free radicals are unstable electrons that can cause a chain reaction of decay in the environment around them. Generally, free radicals attack the nearest stable molecule, stealing its electron. When the attacked molecule loses its electron, it becomes a free radical itself, beginning a chain reaction.
“Free radicals are very reactive so the body has three enzymes that are capable of fighting them but when they are too much, probably due to stress, environmental exposure etc., the body cannot handle them anymore and that is why you need external supplementation. Our forefathers used to eat whole Palm oil which contains all the antioxidants.”
Mode of operation:
“Vitamin E is soluble in fat so it attaches itself to the fat and moves around with it to ensure that it does not oxidize. Bad or good cholesterol is nothing more than cholesterol esters just moving around the body. Cholesterol is not bad until it has been oxidized because of the presence of free radicals in the body. So if you have enough antioxidants to take care of the free radicals, then the issue of bad or good cholesterol does not arise. Palm oil contains very powerful antioxidants so if we take whole Palm oil, we will not have these problems,” he said.
“The human body uses what it sees to replenish what is going out because the cells go through a lot of stress. Therefore, if you have say 50 per cent saturated and 50 per cent unsaturated fatty acids that make up the cell and then you start eating something that contains almost 80 per cent unsaturated fatty acids, it means that along the line, the body will not find the saturated fatty acids to use in building up the cells so it will have to use the unsaturated fatty acids to replenish whatever is missing.
“The implication is soft skin, soft cells etc. and we have discovered that these are the sources of some forms of skin cancer because the soft cells cannot withstand much of the environmental situation and nature was not foolish when it made the cells to be almost 50-50.”
From Prof Ekpa: Palm oil is another black gold
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