Key facts, Processing, Benefits and uses of palm oil
Palm oil is popularly known as red oil because of its reddish coloration. It is produced from the fleshy fruit of palm trees. There are various palm trees but the major palm tree used for red oil production is the Elaeis guineensis.
A similar breed of palm trees known as Elaeis oleifera is also used in the production of palm oil. In recent times, a hybrid of both palm tree is used in the production of palm oil.
Elaeis guineensis is endemic in Africa (particularly West-Africa and South-Africa) and it is a widely sown crop while Elaeis oleifera is found in South-America (it is less commonly sown).
Though oil palm is endemic in Africa, about 80% of world palm oil production and supply comes from Malaysia and Indonesia (South-East Asia).
What an irony? It is paramount to note that these Asian countries received seeds of the African palm tree about a century ago for production and today, they are excellent in its production.
The red palm oil is derived from the juice of the palm fruits. The palm fruit is first boiled or cooked and the water used in cooking the fruit is filtered and thrown away.
Locally, the cooked fruit is then matched and sometimes pounded for the juice to be squeezed out from the fleshy fruits (there is machinery that has simplified the processes though).
The juice obtained is known as the crude palm oil. This crude oil can be used for cooking various delicacies such as the African notable Banga soup with fresh fish, Banga rice, and many others.
To produce the marketable red oil, the crude palm oil is further heated (distilled) or cooked. It is then allowed to cool for the red oil which is light in weight to separate from the crude which is thick and heavy (color ranges from yellow, orange, and red).
Though the red palm oil is popular and notable; there is also white palm oil. The white palm oil is gotten from the red oil. The red oil is crystallized and fractionated.
This process removes the bulk of the red coloration. In this form, palm oil is added to finished products such as peanut butter and other nut butters (where it acts as a stabilizer).
It is also used in manufacturing industries for the production of baked goods like bread and cookies etc, Protein bars and diet bars Chocolates, Coffee creamers, Margarine, body creams, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant and many more.
Palm oil is often used in frying meat, stew, and other fast food. It is important in the soap making industry where it is locally used for soap production.
It is shocking to know that palm oil is 100% fat right? Most of the fat is saturated. It also a rich source of Calories and the antioxidant- carotenoids and Vitamin E.
The saturated fat in red oil is majorly Palmitic acid and Oleic acid with a small portion of Stearic acid. Other fats are mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fat.
Knowing fully well that palm oil is 100% fat, can it be of health benefits? Let’s find out.
Palm oil is rich in tocotrienols and the antioxidant; carotenoid which helps to support and protect the brain. It reduces dementia and prevents the development of brain lesions. It also prevents the risk of stroke in patients.
Palm oil also prevents cardiovascular and heart-related diseases by reducing bad cholesterol (Low-Density Lipoproteins- LDL) and increases good cholesterol (High-Density Lipoproteins- HDL).
It prevents fats from being deposited in the blood vessels thereby improving and maintain blood flow and heart rate.
Palm oil is an excellent source of Vitamin E and very Paramount to children, infants, pregnant women, and especially for those that are at risk of its deficiency.
The carotenoid present in palm oil is easily and efficiently converted to Vitamin by the human body.
It is important to note that palm oil is used in the production of animal feeds and also used as biofuel in many parts of the world though it produces more carbon than fossil fuel during burning.
Arguably, there are reports that palm oil is not so healthy for the heart because of the levels of saturated fat it contains which is about 40% of the total fat.
Key Facts, Processing, Benefits And Uses Of Palm Oil