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You are what you eat and consume. What you put into your body, and what that might do to the world around us is your contribution to the planetary ecosystem. By making intentional eating choices to consume only things that are healthy for our bodies and for the world around us, we can heal ourselves and the environment in which we live.


Unfortunately, palm oil is found in a variety of products, ranging from candy bars to toothpaste to makeup, and rarely is it clearly labeled. In fact, there are more than 170 different names that manufacturers use on their packaging to avoid saying the words “palm oil." That may make purging palm oil products from your cabinets and shopping list sound overwhelming, but I’ve rounded up some easy tips for doing so — ones that don’t include memorizing all 170 names.

Here are six reliable ways to avoid palm oil:

  1. The most common name palm oil is disguised under is “vegetable oil.”
  2. Most prepackaged snack foods made by corporate giants (Nestle, Unilever, etc.) contain palm oil.
  3. If a product's saturated fat content makes up more than 40 percent of its total fat content, it will almost always contain palm oil.
  4. Ingredients with the word "palm" in them are palm oil or are derived from the oil palm fruit.
  5. If you’re not sure whether a product contains palm oil, either type the product name into your search engine along with "palm oil" and scan the search results, or contact the company and ask if they use palm oil.
  6. To avoid palm oil, choose products that contain clearly labeled oils, such as 100 percent sunflower oil, corn oil, olive oil, coconut oil, or canola oil.


You may well wonder, “Is there such a thing as sustainable palm oil?” Unfortunately, less than seven percent of the total production of palm oil is certified as sustainable, as most companies refuse to pay the premium associated with less-destructive farming practices.

Furthermore, many sources involved in the palm oil controversy regard sustainable palm oil as an unreliable and unenforced classification, a disheartening claim that we have heard all too often when it comes to other certifications such as “natural,” “free range,” “humane,” and even "organic."

That said, as of 2012, Whole Foods has pledged to no longer use palm oil sourced from the conversion of rainforest ecosystems or from large companies engaged in the conversion of natural forests and/or peat lands in their 365 Everyday Value™ and Whole Foods Market™ brands. This, at the very least, is a great first step, since palm oil is a common ingredient in many power bars sold in health food stores.

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