Palm Oil, obtained from red fruit of palm tree –which is a tree type growing in the tropical areas of Africa–, is the most widely used vegetable oil in the world. In the last years, agricultural lands dedicated for palm oil production have increased in the world, and people’s interest in palm oil have proportionally increased too. Currently, 15 million hectares of land is dedicated for palm tree production in the world.
According to the statistics, palm oil production quals to almost half of world’s total oil production, and it will exceed 40 million tons in 2020. The reason behind this situation is that current oil need of world is around 120 million tons and will reach 175 million tons in 2020; also efficiency of palm vegetable is way higher when compared to vegetables like canola and soya. Moreover, since palm oil is cholesterol-free, it is preferred in sectors such as cosmetics, cleaning, chocolate and biscuit.
From 1997 to 2001, palm oil consumption increased 31 percent, palm oil trade increased 34 percent, and palm oil production increased 43 percent, which corresponds to half of the vegetable oil trade which was 48 million. One of the reasons increasing the need for palm oil is the obligation that margarine and products containing margarine have to carry tags explaining their trans fatty acid levels. Because, trans level of natural palm oil is really low. Also since it is in solid form, margarine manufacturers will demand it more. There are some speculations on palm oil arguing that it is harmful, however many developed countries still prefer to import this oil. Since most developed countries have begun to import it, these sorts of judgments are now considered speculative themselves. One of the most important characteristics of palm oil is the highly antioxidant Vitamin E content.
Also known as dendê oil, palm oil is obtained from reddish pulp (mesocarp) of palm fruit. Just like olive oil, which is made of fruits, palm oil is also considered as fruit oil. However, palm oil should not be confused with palm kernel oil which is obtained from kernels or seeds of palm fruits. Two different oil types can be obtained from oil palm fruit:
palm oil and palm kernel oil. As a result of reconsidering palm oil based studies, it is understood that when oils used in western countries are replaced by palm oil, cholesterol levels of subjects do not increase, instead, a decrease between 7% and 38% is observed. The reason behind this fact is that palm oil does not contain trans fatty; it just contains lauryl and myristic acid residues increasing cholesterol and a matchless oil molecule configuration containing palmitic acid which is one of major saturated fatty acids pegging the cholesterol level.
Benefits of Palm Oil
- It is a rich in antioxidants (carotenes and tocopherols).
- It is natural, not hydrogenated, not processed under temperature with solvents like hexane.
- It does not contain trans fatty acids. n It contains omega-6, which is an essential fatty acid (linoleic acid).
- It rehabilitates blood lipids and increases HDL cholesterol, which is also beneficial.
- It remains unchanged when cooked.
- It is easy to digest.
This article was taken from “Africa Time” magazine by demanding all necessary permissions for copyright.