Palm Oil Tax: Is France Trying to Undermine its Athletes? Fortunately for Me, I Live in Belgium!

The French Parliament is currently debating a proposal to increase the tax on palm oil. This proposal has been motivated on several grounds, including a ‘supposed’ harmful impact on health. Scientific evidence, and daily consumption of this ingredient, simply make me think that this tax is a not a good idea and should not be adopted.

During my years at University, I have been taught to separate facts from fiction. Especially about the food that you eat that is going to make you run faster or live healthier.

I am not a health expert, nor a doctor. I am an athlete who discovered palm oil a few years ago when my nutritionist suggested that I use it for cooking. From that moment, I found not only a perfect oil to prepare my dishes with, but a great support for my training regime and my healthy lifestyle. Let me explain why.

Oils and fats are a key component of our diet. We all need them, not just athletes. Palm oil is a source of fat like butter, but is also a rich source of carotenoids and vitamins, especially vitamin A and E. These are really important vitamins, that are also contained in carrots, and tomatoes. But even in bigger amounts than in those vegetables. Palm oil is a perfect ingredient for when I want to cook a healthy meal before my training sessions or competitions.

Thanks to my studies in Chemistry, I was able to understand the chemical properties of palm oil and how to best integrate it to my diet. It really helps to understand the beneficial effects that different ingredients can have – and it means when I read negative claims about some foods (like palm oil) in the media, I know for certain that it is not accurate.

Food is an essential part of an athlete’s performance. Our body doesn’t need for instance much short carbohydrates and sugar, as it is a waste of energy to process them, if we are not doing a long training or competition. It doesn’t need protein and carbs mixed in the same meal either, but it always needs fats. Fats help us to get more energy and recover faster.

I use palm oil to cook all sorts of foods, including meat, fish and vegetables. It has a semi-solid consistency at normal temperature, which makes it a perfect ingredient to fry because it doesn’t burn at high-temperatures, unlike other vegetable oils.

I am extremely surprised that France is pursuing this new tax: although I read recently that there are some French politicians who have realized that the tax is not a good idea. Frankly speaking, palm oil and fats in general have been widely misunderstood here in Europe. Each oil can have a place in our diet. People use olive oil because it has a nice taste. I use palm oil because it helps me to run faster and compete against world-class athletes. Taxing palm oil more doesn’t make any sense. It’s for the best for French athletes, and everyone else, if France just drops this idea altogether. It doesn’t make sense to discriminate against one specific oil, and especially palm oil… luckily I don’t live in France otherwise I would become poor! Of course, it could also disadvantage French athletes ahead of the Olympics if their important fat intake becomes more expensive. Lucky for me, all round, that I live in Belgium!