Palm oil is in almost everything—here’s what you should know about it, including if the most common foods with palm oil and if it's bad for you.

By Lauren Phillips
January 11, 2019

Palm oil isn’t new to the world marketplace, but it’s still not talked about enough for everyone to know exactly what it is—or why palm oil may be bad for you and bad for the environment. If you’re wondering, “What is palm oil?” consider this a crash course in the edible, vegetable-based oil.

The public opinion of palm oil keeps shifting, especially as more information about the cooking oil becomes widespread. A recent study by the World Health Organization (WHO) says that the  palm oil industry has influenced research into the health effects of palm oil, Reuters reports, similarly to how the alcohol and tobacco industries influenced research on the health effects of their respective products to make them seem less harmful than they actually are.

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With some of the research on whether palm oil is healthy potentially biased, it’s possible that palm oil is bad for you—or it may have other health-related effects consumers are unaware of. In the WHO study, published online by the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, the authors write, “The contested nature of the evidence suggests the need for independent, comprehensive studies of the health impact of palm oil consumption.”

The findings of this study make it unclear whether palm oil is good or bad for you—and that kind of uncertainty regarding something people eat is not good. Read on to learn more about palm oil and the other ways it may be bad for you and for the environment.

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