Published on: August 10, 2022
When you think of palm trees, what comes to mind? Probably tropical places, sunny vacations, and trips to the beach. Oil most likely isn’t the first thing you think of, but despite that, the beautiful staple of tropical paradises offers an incredible product – palm oil. What is it?
Palm oil is a vegetable oil sourced from the fruit of oil palm trees, scientifically known as Elaeis guineensis. These trees originated in Africa and have since been planted in Southeast Asia, with Indonesia and Malaysia now accounting for the majority of palm oil production globally.
Although palm oil has gained a negative reputation in the mainstream media in recent years due to negative environmental impacts and unethical production practices, there is much more to the story about this versatile vegetable oil. When palm oil is harvested and produced sustainably, these negative effects are minimized, instead bringing focus to its diverse benefits. Read more to find out five important things to know about palm oil!
One aspect of sustainable palm oil that makes it ideal for harvesting is its incredibly high yield. Palm oil is much more efficient than other comparable vegetable oils. What does this mean? This means that oil palm trees yield more oil in a smaller area of land, meaning palm oil production makes better use of land comparatively. Studies have shown that up to nine times more oil per unit area is produced by oil palm trees. Palm oil even accounts for 36% of food oil worldwide, but it only uses 8.6% of the land taken up for vegetable oil production. Although activists have called for a switch to different types of vegetable oils as substitutes, these oils would require a larger area of land than what is currently used for palm oil production.
Take a stroll through your local grocery store and peruse the labels on some of your favorite foods. Chances are, you’re likely to see palm oil featured in more than a few of those items, listed under one of its derivatives. From instant noodles to pizza dough, cookies to bread, chocolate to margarine – these items all contain palm oil.
Why is palm oil a staple in so many prepackaged foods? This vegetable oil is relatively tasteless and odorless in the forms used for these products, making it adaptable to many products. Texturally, it adds smoothness and makes products like ice cream have a creamy texture. Palm oil is solid at room temperature, preventing items like chocolate from melting. It can even extend the shelf life of foods too.
Palm oil isn’t only an ingredient in foods. Added to cosmetic products, palm oil adds a unique set of properties that allow it to balance these items with moisture. For example, this oil is used in soaps and shampoos. Because these products are made to clean, they can end up stripping natural oils from the skin while serving their purpose. This is where palm oil comes in. Because of the nature of this ingredient, it can balance the products by supplementing them with moisture to hydrate the skin.
Additionally, palm oil can be found in lip products such as lipstick. Its smooth texture and moisturizing elements work perfectly to hydrate the lips while offering beautiful, consistent pigment.
Aside from its other perks, palm oil also provides crucial health benefits. Let’s explore the three major health aspects that palm oil improves.
Palm oil contains beta carotenoids, which is known for being found in carrots. When the body processes beta carotene, it converts to vitamin A. This vitamin is mostly commonly regarded as being beneficial for eyesight. In addition to its vision benefits, vitamin A also bolsters skin health and fortifies the immune system.
This vegetable oil also can help with heart disease. Studies have found that palm oil may increase good cholesterol and decrease bad cholesterol. Balancing these two types of cholesterol is extremely valuable in improving heart health.
Due to the prevalence of vitamin E – specifically tocotrienols – in palm oil, it can improve brain health. Various studies have shown a correlation between this form of vitamin E and improved cognitive function. It can even slow the growth of brain lesions.
Finally, one of the most important things to know about palm oil is that this vegetable oil is not inherently bad for people or for the environment. When sustainability and high ethical standards are prioritized down the supply chain, the negative aspects of this oil are diminished. With recent efforts to improve the standards in the palm oil industry, sustainable palm oil is pushed to the forefront, displaying its positive elements in full force.
Now that you’ve learned some of the most important basics regarding palm oil, its properties, and its benefits, you can understand why it’s become so prevalent globally. Interested in finding out more about palm oil and the people working to improve its sustainability? Discover Palm Done Right and the importance of organic palm oil with full traceability.Tags: palm oil
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