Last Updated : Jan 08,2018
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Palm oil is edible plant oil derived from the pulp of the oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) fruit. Palm oil is naturally reddish because it contains a high amount of beta-carotene; however, boiling it destroys the carotenoids and renders the oil colourless. Palm oil is one of the few vegetable oils that are relatively high in saturated fats (like palm kernel oil and coconut oil) and thus semi-solid at room temperature. Like all other vegetable oils, palm oil has been legally designated as cholesterol-free. The oil is widely used for cooking, as an ingredient in margarine, and in many other processed foods. Since palm oil is less unsaturated than other highly unsaturated oils such as soybean oil, corn oil and sunflower oil, it is resistant to oxidation and can withstand very high temperatures of deep-frying.
Palm oil is a very common cooking ingredient in the regions where it is produced such as Africa and Southeast Asia. Palm oil is versatile, healthy, trans-fat-free oil for cooking, frying and baking.
How to select
• Select red palm oil over colourless (refined) ones as the processing tends to take way the health benefits.
• Choose palm oil only if the recipe requires, otherwise switch to other healthier alternatives like olive, canola or rice bran.
• Check the expiry date and nutritional labelling. Avoid buying if there are signs of cloudiness or bubbles.
• Palm oil is to tropical African cooking what olive oil is to Mediterranean cooking and butter is to northern European cooking.
• Moambé Sauce and Palm Butter Soup are recipes that start with the palm nuts and make use of both their pulp and oil.
• Palm oil is used to sauté vegetables and even in the preparation of soups and stews.
• Its stability at high temperature renders it suitable for deep-frying and even as baking oil.
How to store
Store palm oil in a dark coloured glass or plastic bottle. Keep the bottle in a cool dry place.
• Palm oil and palm kernel oil are composed of fatty acids esterified with glycerol just like any ordinary fat. Both are high in saturated fatty acids, about 50% and 80%, respectively.
• The World Health Organization (WHO) states there is convincing evidence that palm oil consumption contributes to an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Hence, it is better avoided.
• Palm oil is the largest natural source of tocotrienol, part of the vitamin E family.
• Palm oil is also high in vitamin K, carotenoids and dietary magnesium.
• Red palm oil is known to be healthier than refined (discoloured) palm oil.
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