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What is Palm Oil: Pros and Cons of Palm Oil

Updated on November 6, 2011

Palm Oil, also called Red Palm Oil, is a Reddish-Orange Oil extract from the Pulp of Palm Tree (Elaeis guineensis) Fruit. Although there are other types of Oil such as the Palm Kernel Oil (PKO) produced from Palm Nuts of Palm Kernels, and Coconut Oil; that are sometimes collectively referred to as Palm Oil.

Fatty Acid Content

Palm Oil contains both saturated and unsaturated Fatty Acid, though saturated fatty Acid makes up a large part of the bulk of the Oil. The Carbon content of most of the Fatty Acids ranges from 14 Carbon to 18 Carbon. The saturated Fatty Acid Contents includes: 44.3% Palmitic Acid (16-C), 4.6% Stearic Acid (18-C), and 1.0% Myristic Acid (14-C).

The Unsaturated Fatty Acid is made up of 18-C Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid (Linoleic Acid) and Monounsaturated Fatty Acid (Oleic Acid). Oleic Acid makes up 38.7% while Linoleic Acid makes up 10.5% of the total fatty acid Content.

Nutritional Value

Palm Oil contains large amount of Fatty Acid that plays important role in Metabolism. Fatty acid Oxidation can go as far as the Citric Acid Cycle and the Electron Transport Chain through the Crucial AcetylCoA. The large amount of ATP produced from this Pathway indicates the importance of Fatty Acid in providing Energy for the Body. Hence, it is safe to Infer that Palm Oil which is a Reserve of Fatty Acid provides Bulk of Energy for the Body.

Palm Oil also contains Carotene and Tocopherol (Vitamin E). Both have powerful Antioxidative Properties that helps to mop up free radicals or Reactive Oxygen Species, thus reducing all sorts of Ailments and delaying the aging Process. The Cosmetic Industry is known to have tapped into this Area where they extract Carotene and Tocotrienols to make body creams that keeps the Skin young and Fresh.

Uses of Palm Oil

There are so many uses of Palm Oil that extends through all Area of Life. Here we are focusing on some basic uses that we can easily relate with. Both The Red Palm Oil and Palm Kernel Oil Became important Factors during the Second World War from where napalm became popular. Palmitic Acid which is a major Component of Palm Oil was one of the two most important Ingredient of the dreaded napalm.

Palm Oil is also a major part of Food Processing. Margarine, Mayonaise and Salad Cream Oil are some of the Food Products that are made with Palm Oil.

The Abundance of Palm Oil also makes it a Potential Bio-fuel Source. While it's possible to process Palm Oil for Bio-diesel or for direct use, the high demand in food and other convectional uses that dates back to several tens of years; might be affected in terms of higher cost and Availability. Still, countries like Malaysia and Indonesia are producing Bio-diesel from Palm Oil.

Palm Oil is also an important part of Saponification where it is combined Industrially with Lye to produce Soap and Washing Powder. Soaps produced from Palm Oil extends to all Area of washing that includes from Kitchen Sink through Bathing to washing of Clothes.

Also, Palm Oil is important in making Cosmetics such as Body Cream and Hair Cream. While it is directly used in some cases, some Cosmetics are made with the Antioxidative Extracts of Palm Oil.

Finally, Palm Oil is an Important Ingredient in home Cooking, Industrial cooking such as frying and in Restaurants.


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    • James Agbogun profile image

      James Agbogun 5 years ago

      RTalloni, You are surely right! There are so many Health Debates on the consumption of Palm Oil. Reputable Institutions like the WHO reported that palm oil Consumption could increase the Risk of Atherosclerosis. While this was Debunked by some other National Institutions, the Question of the Risk still persist.

      But I would love to relate any affirmative findings to the frequency of Cardiovascular Diseases in places where Palm Oil makes up a large part of the Diet. This should include African Countries like Kenya, Benin, Ghana, Nigeria, and the Cameroun.

      Thank you for including this position.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Interesting to read this about Palm Oil. There are pros and cons on it, and I like to look at both sides. Thanks!

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