June 14, 2011 § 4 Comments
Let’s begin with the more commonly known oil to the parrot community, palm oil or palm fruit oil. This oil is orange to orange/red in color and is derived from the fruit of the palm fruit, not the kernel. It is dense, rich in carotenoids, the stuff that gives it rich color. Palm fruit oil contains about equal parts of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. The unsaturated fatty acid is about 38% oleic acid and 11% linoleic acid. Therefore palm oil cannot be “technically” classified purely a “saturated” oil or purely as an “unsaturated” oil because it is equally both. The fatty acid derived from palm fruit oil is commonly known as Palmitic acid.
Palmitic acid, however, is generally classified as a major saturated fatty acid because of its density and the rich flavor it has. But it gives very little affect to any rise in blood level lipids and lipoproteins. It fails to impact plasma lipids when total fat intake is within recommended levels. This is a very important factor to remember because so many people are fearful in feeding oils to their birds for the very reason of raising the “fat content” in their bird’s diet, thus causing a high cholesterol blood panel. This is virtually an untrue effect when feeding palm oil to your feathered friend if you are feeding oils in moderation. Even if you are feeding a little more than what is considered “moderate” it is difficult to overuse, read on and you’ll learn why. Pay close attention to how these fatty acids interact with blood, arteries and cholesterol .
Fatty acids are responsible for moving oxygen through the body. They also aid in cell membrane development, and they are necessary for strong organs. Fatty acids rebuild tissue keeping the skin healthy, hydrated and supple. One of the main functions of fatty acids is to actually rid the arteries of cholesterol build up. They also assist the adrenal and thyroid glands regulating weight.
Oleic acid is an odorless and colorless monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid and is responsible for protecting the brain and adrenal glands as well as regulating blood pressure.
Linoleic acid is a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid necessary for proper skin and feather health.
In addition, because of the carotenoids, palm fruit oil is a rich source of natural vitamin A. So many birds are deficient in this vitamin and are in need of supplementation. But I am a strong supporter of natural supplements, not laboratory-produced, synthetic vitamins that are found in highly processed diets. There is still no concrete proof that organic living creatures can appropriately digest, absorb and fully metabolize laboratory produced, synthetic vitamins. It’s always best to use what Nature supplies as the organic means of basic nutrition. And Nature has provided a wide array of natural nutrients, why not use them? –Vitamin A is an antioxidant and it is responsible for good skin, proper feather growth and replacement, bone health, eyesight, a healthy respiratory system, healthy, moist mucous membranes, and it may affect overall energy as well as support the thyroid and assist with diabetes related problems.
Palm fruit oil also contains Vitamin E and is an antioxidant responsible for skin health especially body tissue and blood cell growth and repair. It also helps to defend the immune system. Palm fruit oil contains both the tocopherols and the tocotrienols by virtue of the presence of Vitamin E. Palm fruit oil is one of the richest natural sources of tocotrienols.
Tocopherols contain anti-inflammatory properties, thus help the skin heal faster when bruised or wounded. One of the side benefits of tocopherols are their antioxidant properties as a natural spoilage retardant. This is good to know because you can be sure that your palm fruit oil, although you will need to refrigerate it once opened, will have a long and lasting shelf life in your refrigerator.
Tocotrienols help prevent brain cell damage, prevent cancer, and reduce cholesterol, thus improving cardiovascular health. These functions are not performed by tocopherols, so it’s easy to see why Nature placed both tocopherols and tocotrienols side-by-side in the same food, palm fruit, together they work miracles!
It is easy to see why palm fruit oil is so good for our birds. This should be a staple item in our bird’s health program, fed in moderation along with other oils we will soon be discussing on The BEST Bird Food blog. It’s absolutely imperative to know how to keep our birds healthy and vibrant! Palm fruit oil is only very small part of that plan. Palm fruit oil, when you can find a good, reliable source, can help resolve many problems you may be experiencing with your bird from dry skin, to feather problems, to mood disorders, to respiratory problems and even offer a fair amount of cardiovascular health benefits. It’s worth a try. Alone palm fruit oil may not solve all of your bird’s problems completely; however it may start eliminating some of the problems. But don’t expect miracles overnight; give a month or even three or four before you begin to see a real change.
Start out with just anywhere from just a pinch on the end of toothpick once a week for the very small Budgie, to a 32nd of a teaspoon for a Ringneck size bird once a week, to a 16th of teaspoon for an African Grey to Cockatoo sized parrot, or similar size, once a week, to an 8th of a teaspoon for the larger parrots like the Macaws once a week if you aren’t feeding any other oils. If you are feeding other oils, cut it back by just a couple times a month.
Some people will say that’s not enough, others will say it’s too much. Everyone has their preferences. I personally believe that these wonderful creatures need more oil in their lives than generally believed. Out in the wild they would naturally forage for items containing these oils to keep their skin and feathers well-oiled and also to give them the amount of energy their high metabolism calls for, which brings me to another very important point.
Do your birds receive the amount of exercise they need? This is a vital and necessary part of their daily lives. Just like a small child who begins to go “stir crazy” if they stay in the house all day and doesn’t receive a chance to run off their energy, our birds are the very same way. If they don’t get a chance to get out of their cages and exercise, play and flap their wings they are going to go “cage crazy” and begin to give you behavioral problems. If you are beginning to have “behavioral problems” with your bird, think about the amount of time you allow your bird out of its cage to play and interact with you, its favorite playmate!
*If at any time you begin to see black spots on your bird’s feathers, you may be feeding too much oil or fat to your bird, back off and consult your licensed avian veterinarian. You may need to have your bird’s blood lipid / lipoprotein panel checked and/or checked for fatty liver disease and/or place your bird on a liver detox regimen.(Or this may this may be a sign of “Iron Storage Disease”)
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