Nutritional value of Amazonian palm oil is similar to olive oil
UN/DICYT Analysis carried out on sehe palm oil determined great nutritional similarities with olive oil. Furthermore they discovered high Omega 3 and 9 levels, superior to African palm oil.
As deduced from a UNal Food Science and Technology Institute (ICTA, for its Spanish acronym) research project which focused on obtaining sehe palm (Oenocarpus bataua) oil and its uses. This palm originally found in the Amazonian region also thrives in the Provinces of Chocó and Boyacá and the eastern plains.
“Sehe oil has 77% Omega 9 content and African palm oil only has between 36 and 44% and the same range as olive oil,” said José Wilson Castro, ICTA Plant Processing Area Researcher.
These results are important as consumption of products with Omega reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Therefore for this palm which is also present in countries such as Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, researchers analyzed yield percentages, quality, chemical composition, action in the human body, nutritional and caloric value, among others. Likewise they prepared a dressing and other products.
One of the purposes of this research project headed by Professor María Soledad Hernández is to maximize oil extraction carried out by Amazonian Indian communities, who obtain the oil by traditional methods, but this impacts the shelf life of the product.
“They macerate and cook the fruit to separate the pulp from the seed, which is then boiled to collect the supernatant, which is the oil,” he said.
These native communities use the whole palm tree. For instance, the leaves are used for roofing material for malokas (Indian word for "house") and the trunk is used for fences and making handicrafts. Along with the seeds, the fruit pulp is used for beverages. Although its effectiveness has not been scientifically proven, Indians also have a medicinal use for this plant to treat flu and tuberculosis outbreaks.
Sehe palm is native, wild and does not have great area extensions; furthermore its production is carried out in chagras, small crop lands. Precisely the latter is one of the reasons why they are promoting its sustainable farming.
This project was performed jointly with the Amazonian Scientific Research Institute (SINCHI, for its Spanish acronym), the Universidad Central de Venezuela and the Hospital Militar de Venezuela.