A Backlight to an emerging oil – PALM OIL

We all know Palm tree… Right ? The picture shown above is of palm tree. and the oil which comes from the fruit (Elacis Guineensis) of palm trees is called palm oil. Oil palm trees started from Africa and were brought to south East Asia to now almost all over the world (Majorly tropical regions). The most important thing is that we mostly don’t even know that Palm oil is in everything now. Yeah, thats true…!!!

Unrefined palm oil is sometimes referred to as red palm oil because of its reddish-orange colour. It is important to note that palm oil should not be confused with palm kernel oil. While both originate from the same plant, palm kernel oil is extracted from the seed of the fruit. It provides different health benefits.

Palm oil is in close to 50% of the packaged products we mostly buy from supermarkets, starting from Pizza, doughnuts, chocolates, deodorants, shampoo, toothpaste, lipsticks, cleaning products, fuels and what not.

Palm oil is an extremely versatile oil which is having so many properties that has make it so useful and widely used oil. It is semi solid at room temperature, resistant to oxidation, hence gives longer shelf life. It also remains stable at high temperatures and due to this property, it helps fried products to be more crispy and crunchy.

Palm oil is colourless and odourless, hence it doesn’t change the look/smell of food products. Palm oil is widely used as a cooking oil.

Its crop is highly efficient one, as it produce more oil per land area than any other such vegetable oil crop. The oil palm is a highly versatile plant. Most of the palm oil which is produced ends up in our vehicles in the form of biofuel. Because of such unique properties, it is very difficult to find substitutes of palm oil.

Health Benefits

Palm oil is the most widely produced tropical edible oil. Not only is it versatile, palm oil is uniquely productive crop. There are benefits of Palm oil which cannot be ignored. 

Health benefits includes –

  • Decreasing Cholesterol levels
  • Reducing Oxidative stress
  • Provides protection against heart diseases
  • Rich source of anti-oxidants and beta-carotenes
  • Boosting brain health
  • Reduce the risk of stroke
  • Heal the inured part while cut
  • Increasing Vitamin A

Food Security

Like other saturated oils palm oil doesn’t need hydrogenation to increase the shelf life of its products, as all its carbon atoms are linked to each other and a pair of hydrogen atoms, means thats fully saturated. The solid form, stearin is used to make solid fats such as margarine. The liquid form called olein is more healthy and used by food makers. Some other vegetable oils, if heated to high temperatures will lose their nutritional values , but with palm oil, studies have shown otherwise, suggesting it can be heated during cooking without eliminating its content. Palm oil can be used as a substitute for cooking needs like greasing, shortening and frying. The high saturated and monounsaturated fatty acid content makes palm oil heat resistant and stable at high cooking or frying temperatures.

Land Used

Its crop is highly efficient one, as it produce more oil per land area than any other such vegetable oil crop. The oil palm is a highly versatile plant. Every oil palm tree requires approximately 3m diameter clear around the base of each tree to allow full growth. One oil palm tree will product ongoing fruit for upto 30 years deeming the crop. At 66 million tons annually, palm oil is the most commonly produced vegetable oil. Oil palm plantations currently cover more than 27 million hectares of the Earths surface. Harvested all year round, oil palm trees produce up to nine times more oil per unit area than other major oil crops. Its estimated that the worlds demand for palm oil for food will roughly double by 2050. While this is lot, the demand could met by increasing yields in existing farmlands and planting on human-made grassland.

The oil palm is now the most successful and the most productive of all our plants as of now. The largest importer of palm oil is India (around 22%) and they used for cooking majorly. Most of the palm oil which is produced ends up in our vehicles in the form of biofuel. Because of such unique properties, it is very difficult to find substitutes of palm oil. RSPO – The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil is an organisation committed to making oil production as environment friendly, culturally sensitive and sustainable as possible. Palm oil has provided livelihood/jobs to many and millions of small farmers. 

Palms successes its greatest enemy…may be the reason is it’s most widely consumed vegetable oil on the planet. Palm oil is cheap and its used in thousands of everyday products. Palm trees can produce oil all year round and can grow greatly in soils that many other plants can’t.  

For more details on palm oil & Malaysian Palm oil Council (MPOC), please visit their website on https://www.mpoc.org.in

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