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Palm Oil – Introduction, Benefits, and Usage

Often when we think about making some healthy changes to our lifestyle, the first thing that comes to our mind is switching to a healthy cooking oil.  We normally hear a lot about sunflower and groundnut oil but today I am going to introduce you to a lesser-known oil called palm oil which is a healthier version of the trans-fats-laden cooking oil that we normally use.

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Image Courtesy: National Geographic

What is Palm Oil?

Palm oil is the oil derived from the fruit of the oil palm trees. The flesh of this fruit is rich in natural oils that are rich in carotene. These carotenes give a rich orange colour to the unprocessed oil. It has a high percentage of saturated fats so the oil is semi-solid at normal room temperatures.

Health & Nutritional Benefits of Palm Oil:

Here are some of the main benefits of using palm oil in your cooking:

  1. It is rich in carotenes and vitamin E that are very beneficial for the skin and body and strengthen our immune system.
  2. The oil is free of trans fatty acids that are considered harmful for the heart and can cause cancer.
  3. It supplies all essential fatty acids to the body in addition to vitamin D and vitamin K.
  4. The composition of this oil is stable at high temperatures so it can be used for frying purposes.
  5. The oil is vegan and is a good alternative to vanaspati which is very harmful for the body.

How Palm oil helps in food security?

Palm oil needs comparatively less land to cultivate as compared to other commercial oil crops. It also uses less fertilizers and pesticides and hence gives more yield which in turn adds to the food security of the nation. Research studies have revealed that the cultivation of palm oil does not lead to deforestation as it is a high-yielding oil crop and consumes lesser resources to produce the same amount of oil.

Palm oil and Land use efficiency :

As stated above, since the cultivation of this oil requires less land as compared to other oil crops, the remaining land can be used to grow more crops or fruits and vegetables to get more yield. This helps in generating more revenue for the country without compromising on its commercial oil production.

This oil has multiple uses and some of the main uses of palm oil are listed below:

  • It can be used for frying as it is stable at high temperatures.
  • It can be useful for creating desserts since it does not have a flavour of its own.
  • The oil enhances the taste of breakfast recipes.
  • It does not trans-fats so it is good for cooking for people with heart diseases.
  • It is economical as well because it is cheaper and is a good option for creating frying oil blends.

Is palm’s success it’s greatest enemy?

With all these benefits stated above, why do you think palm oil is not as popular as its other counterparts? The reason is that this oil is targetted as it offers more benefits at a lesser cost.  This makes the more commercial oils less efficient and this is why this oil is targetted and not as popular as it should be.

Now that you have read all about this oil and its benefits, who is excited to make the switch to this healthy trans-fat free cooking oil?

Read more about this oil at MPOC website.

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