What is palm oil?

Palm oil is also known as palm fruit oil. Palm oil is said to be nature's gift to the world. Consumed for more than 5,000 years, its nutritional value, health benefits and value as a natural resource continue to be discovered even today.
Palm oil is produced from the fruit of the oil palm tree Elaeis guineensis. Oil palm is the only fruit that can give two types of oil. Since it is a vegetable oil; not an animal or dairy product, and therefore does not contain cholesterol. Virgin palm oilis rich in carotenoids (pro Vitamin A), tocotrienols and tocopherols (Vitamin E) and it contains no trans fatty acids.

palm oil is sometimes confused with palm kernel oil, but in fact it is quite different compositionally. Palm oil comes from the mesocarp (flesh of the fruit) and the lauric palm kernel oil from the kernel at the fruit's core. The two oils are separated in the oil palm bunches by the thick shell of palm kernels. Palm oil is physically refined without the use of chemical solvents, thereby reducing the risk of residue contamination.
Palm oil itself is reddish because it contains a high amount of betacarotene. It is used as cooking oil, to make margarine and is a component of many processed foods. Boiling it for a few minutes destroys the carotenoids and the oil becomes white. Palm oil is one of the few vegetable oils relatively high in saturated fats (such as coconut oil) and thus semi-solid at room temperature.

Previously the second-most widely produced edible oil, after soybean oil, 28 million metric tons were produced worldwide in 2004. It may have now surpassed soybean oil as the most widely produced vegetable oil in the world. Since its introduction, oil palm is now a leading agricultural crop. Increased planting, cultivation and refinement have led to the introduction of a wide range of processed palm oil products. Today, palm fruit oil and palm oil products are used in many food and non-food applications. They can be used for frying media and for making margarines, shortenings, soap, oleo chemicals and other products.

Palm Oil Chemical Composition - Palm Kernel Olein

Palm kernel oil is obtained from the kernel of the oil palm fruit. The oil composition is very different from that of the palm oil. Palm kernel oil contains 48.2% Lauric acid, 16.2% Myristic acid, 8.4% palmitic, 3.4% Capric, 3.3% Caprylic, 2.5% Stearic (saturated fatty acid), 15.3% Oleic (monounsaturated fatty acid), 2.3% Linoleic (polyunsaturated fatty acid), and 0.4% other acids

The approximate concentration of fatty acids (FAs) in palm kernel oil is as follows:

Fatty acid content of palm kernel oil
Type of fatty acid   Percent
Lauric C12 48.2%
Myristic C14 16.2%
Palmitic C16 8.4%
Capric C10 3.4%
Caprylic C8 3.3%
Stearic C18 2.5%
Oleic C18 15.3%
Linoleic C18 2.3%
Others 0.4%
green: Saturated
blue : Mono unsaturated
orange: Poly unsaturated

Palm Kernel Olein
Palm kernel olein is the liquid component of palm kernel oil obtained from fractionation.
Palm Kernel Stearin
Palm kernel stearin is the more solid fraction of palm kernel oil obtained from fractionation.
Palm kernel oil, palm kernel olein and palm kernel stearin find uses in margarine, confectioneries, coffee whitener, filled milk, biscuit cream and coating fats; with little or no further processing. There is a growing trend to use palm kernel oil products as an ingredient in the production of non-hydrogenated trans fat free margarine.

Palm kernel stearin is widely used to substitute for the more expensive cocoa butter in many of its traditional applications. In some instances, particularly when hydrogenated, palm kernel stearin exhibits performance superior to that of cocoa butter. Apart from their excellent melting properties, hydrogenated palm kernel oil products generally have good resistance to fat bloom and show good resistance to oxidative stress.