Over time, palm oil has become one of the popular ingredients that are being used in a wide variety of products. It’s the most used vegetable oil in the world. The palm oil tree mainly grows in Malaysia and Indonesia because these trees flourish in tropical climates. Although at present, around 85% of palm oil comes from these areas, in Africa as well as Latin America, fresh plantations have also emerged.
Seventy-two percent of the global use of palm oil is in the food industry. Cosmetics and hygiene items are accounted for an estimated 18% use, while in biofuels and animal feed sectors, palm oil trees contribute10%.
Palm oil plays a leading role as a fat element in foods such as biscuits and cakes. For soaps & cosmetics, it proves to be providing the best fat that improves the thickness or moisture content of the product and allows the skin to preserve moisture.
Palm oil, as well as its variants, are often covered under 200 different categories. More specifically, it can be referred to as palm kernel, palmitic acid or sometimes even plain vegetable oil too. Let’s take a look at the usage of palm oil-
Why is palm oil used?
Palm oil is economical to grow that also make a reason why they are widely used. However, the entire palm fruit, including flesh and stone, are used to produce oil, and it’s around ten times as efficient as soya bean or rapeseed. Plus, it’s a super versatile grain, which means it’s around nine times more competitive per hectare than any other effective oil.
It also does not call for any fertilizers and pesticides as necessary. Many other vegetable oils may be partially hydrogenated to make them more potent, but in the food cycle, they emit trans fats or trans fatty acids that boost cholesterol. But on the other side, the use of palm oil is considered to be more productive.
What are the valuable properties of palm oil?
Palm oil is oxidizing resistant and thus allows baking items a longer shelf life. Oil oxidation is an oxygen-degrading chemical reaction. In the oil, carbon oxidation causes rancidity, giving it a flavor and fragrance.
In texture, the palm oil feels smooth and a bit creamy that renders it the best to use with chocolates. If we talk about palm oil, then unlike vegetable oils, it perhaps appears odorless and colorless; making it the best ingredient for edible and non-edible items such as lipsticks.
Palm oil has a natural preservative effect, enabling foods to maintain their flavors, their texture and their taste over a long period. Another attribute of palm oil is that it becomes stable at high temperatures making it best to bring a crispy and crunchy flavor in fried foods.
Palm oil in food
- Biscuits/Cookies– Palm oil tends to “shorten” the dough, creating a cracking and breaking feel in the food texture. This leads to the transformation of cookies into soft and lightweight. Cookies made with palm oil are also regarded as healthy than others since this oil is free from Trans Fatty Acids (TFA).
- Bread– Since palm oil becomes solid at room temperature, hence it is widely used in baking processes. Palm oil increases the consistency of the loaf and effectively makes the bread to remain soft and fluffy.
- Cake– Because the oxygenation of palm oil is intense, so it also increases the cake shelf life. It also leads to an increase in the texture, the volume of the cake and moistness and smell of the cake.
- Chocolate/Chocolate spread– Palm oil offers cookies and chocolate a seamless and polished feel. This also helps to keep them from freezing at warmer temperatures easily.
- Crisps – Since palm oil is easier to use as opposed to other vegetable oils, it is therefore used to fry crispy potato chips.
- Doughnut& Dried nuts – Palm oil is used for frying doughnuts and also used to roast nuts because it is the cheapest vegetable oil.
- Fast food– Palm oil improves the flavor of fried foods. It’s also used for baking because it has a strong melting point. It also ensures the processed food is less greasy.
- Instant noodles– The standard pack of instant noodles comprises 20% palm oil. However, instant noodles are also fried in palm oil.
- Microwave popcorn– Palm oil provides the buttery flavor to microwave popcorn which allows the kernels to pop.
- Non-dairy creamer– Palm oil tends to add a rich, creamy flavor and texture to non-dairy creamer.
- Dog food/cat food– Palm oil is often used as a filler because it is both nutritious and heat tolerant, allowing it longer shelf life. Since pet food is highly processed, palm oil serves as a useful preservative.
- Pizza base– Palm oil keeps the dough from binding and makes it easier to enhance the quality of the bread. It also gives the crispness to the pizza foundation.
- Stock cube– Palm oil is applied to the stock cubes because of its nutritional advantages related to antioxidants such as carotenoids & vitamin E.
- Vegetable shortening– Also, Palm oil is used in the production of vegetable shortening since it remains stable at room temperature. It also provides a dense texture that makes the shortening perfect for cooking & baking. This also helps the shortening to stay well-balanced.
Palm oil in non-food items
- Biofuel– Palm oil has also been used as a very durable substitute for gas.
- Candle– Palm wax burns smoother, which ensures that it will not emit a ton of ash/smoke into the room. Palm wax has a robust coating, and the candles can survive in summer heat despite cracking or melting. Palm wax absorbs colors quickly and retains the scent properly.
- Cleaning products – Palm oil is used to make soaps, laundry powder, and other cleaning products. It is often used to produce industrial materials.
Although, some products such as lipstick, shampoo, conditioner, skin moisturizer, shaving cream, soap, and sunscreen also incorporate the use of palm oil.