What all you need to know about the benefits of Palm Oil

The main use of vegetable oils are of course cooking. What are the common oils that you use? Sunflower oil, canola oil, mustard oil, coconut oil, palm oil, etc etc. However have you ever pondered upon the benefits of these oils? Or researched which oil has maximum nutrients and is much beneficial to your health? Here I would like to elucidate the benefits of palm oil and bust the myths surrounding it.

There are two types of palm oil:
Crude palm oil and crude palm kernel oil. Both these oils are chemically and nutritionally different from each other. Also the uses of these two oils are different. 

Now there are many uses of palm oil. 

Nutritional: Palm oil is very rich in calories. One teaspoon (4.5 gms) gives 40 calories. So it's an important component of daily diet. It is rich in Vitamin E in the form of tocotrienols. The distribution of Vitamin E in palm oil is 30% tocopherols and 70% tocotrienols. Crude palm oil contains 500-700 mg/kg of carotenoids and 800 mg/kg of tocopherols.
Carotenoids are a precursor of Vitamin A. It contains a balanced proportion of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. 

Therapeutic: It is used to treat malaria, dementia, high cholesterol and cyanide poisoning. It is used to prevent Vitamin A deficiency, Cancer, Brain disease and ageing. It increases body metabolism and hence helps in weight loss.

Daily Use: Knowingly or unknowingly we use palm oil on a daily basis. It is contained in lipsticks, toothpastes, margarine, frozen desserts, etc etc. Palm oil provides stability to the product. Like it prevents the lipstick from melting as it has a high melting point. It makes the frozen dessert creamier and smoother. It is a component of major processed foods.

Excellent for cooking: Palm oil has a high smoking point. That means it is ideal for cooking especially Indian cooking.

Benefits of Palm oil plantation:

Positive Oxygen Balance: Since palm trees have a large leaf area index, their photosynthesis is more efficient which means they absorb more CO2 and release Oxygen. Their leaf area index of 5.6 makes it equivalent to rain forests.

Reduce Global Warming: The large canopies of Palm plantations are more effective in absorbing CO2 and other Green house gases than a tropical rainforest and hence this would help alleviate global warming to a large extent.

Prevent soil erosion: The palm plantations are cultivated through contour landscaping, which prevents soil erosion. 

Effective land utilization: The palm oil yield is more per hectare when compared with other oilseed crops. A study has revealed that a hectare of oil palm yields 10 times more oil than other major oil crops.  An average yield of 4 – 5 tonnes of crude oil per hectare of land with best fields give as high as 7 – 8 tonnes of crude oil per hectare. This makes palm oil the most efficient oil crop in the world.
Also less fertilizers and pesticides are required for their cultivation. Hence the resources can be used for cultivation of other crops.

Food security: This is an alarming topic especially in the developing world. With rising population, more and more land is being taken up for urbanization from the farms. Palm plantations take up less land, lesser amounts of pesticides and fertilizers than other crops. Thus this ensures more efficient usage of land.

Summing up, Palm oil is indispensable in terms of land use and food security. Visit Malaysian Palm Oil Council for more information.


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