Palm oil, like all fats, is composed of fatty acids, esterified with glycerol. Palm oil has an especially high concentration of saturated fat, specifically the 16–carbon saturated fatty acid and palmitic acid its name is derived. Monounsaturated oleic acid (CH3(CH2)7CH=CH(CH2)7COOH) is also a major constituent of Palm Oil. Unrefined Palm Oil is a significant source of tocotrienol, part of the Vitamin E family.
After milling, various Palm Oil Products are made using refining processes. First is fractionation, with Crystallization and Separation Processes to obtain Solid (Stearin), and Liquid (Olein) Fractions. Then melting and degumming removes impurities. Finally, the oil is filtered and bleached. Physical refining removes smells and coloration to produce “Refined, Bleached and Deodorized Palm Oil” (RBDPO) and free fatty acids, which are used in the manufacturing of soaps, washing powder and other products. It is the basic palm oil product sold in the world’s commodity markets. It fractionates further to produce RBD Palm Olein for cooking oil, or processes it into other products.
Health Benefits on Palm Oil:
- Palm Oil is one of the seventeen edible oils possessing an FAO/WHO food standard under the CODEX Alimentarius Commission Program.
- Palm Oil has had a long history of food use for over 5,000 years.
- Palm oil is extracted from the flesh of a palm fruit solely by cooking and pressing. It should be clearly distinguished from palm kernel oil and coconut Oil because it has lower levels of saturated components with no significant content of capric acid (CH3(CH2)8COOH), lauric acid and myristic acid (CH3(CH2)12COOH).
- Palm oil contains an equal proportion of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids with about 44% Palmitic acid (CH3(CH2)14COOH), 5% stearic acid (C17H35CO2H) (both saturated), 40% oleic acid (monounsaturated), 10% linoleic acid (COOH(CH2)7CH=CHCH2CH=CH(CH2)4CH3) and 0.4% alpha Linolenic acid (both polyunsaturated).
- Like all other vegetable oils, Palm Oil is cholesterol–free.
- Presently, it is consumed worldwide as cooking oil, in margarine and shortenings and is also incorporated into fat blends and wide variety of food products.
- For most food uses, palm oil does not require hydrogenation, thus avoiding the formation of trans–fatty acids. Refined palm oil, as used in foods, is a rich source of Tocopherols and Tocotrienols having Vitamin E activity. Red Palm Oil is the only commercially available rich source of Carotenoids and can be used as a pro–vitamin A activity.
- Palm oil without hydrogenation is an excellent frying oil. Unlike unsaturated oils such as Soybean oil, Corn oil, and Sunflower seed oil, it has lower tendency to oxidize and is resistant to the formation of polar components and cyclic polymers.
- Like other common edible fats and oils, Palm Oil is readily digested, absorbed and utilized as a source of energy.
- A number of recent controlled human studies in Europe, USA and Asia have confirmed that there is no significant rise in serum total cholesterol when using palm oil, and can be used as an alternative to other fats in the habitual diet.
- In the above mentioned studies, the level of HDL cholesterol, regarded as beneficial, was unaltered or was not significantly enhanced.
- The content of Lipoprotein (a) in blood plasma, a potent risk indicator for coronary heart disease, was significantly reduced when palm oil provided most of the dietary fat.
- Palm oil has been demonstrated to be a necessary component in current dietary recommendations to achieve a balanced distribution between saturates Monounsaturates and Polyunsaturates. When humans consume diets having such fatty acid distributions, there is a tendency to improve the overall cholesterol lipoprotein ratios.
- The minor constituents in palm oil namely; Carotenoids, Tocopherols and Tocotrienols have beneficial health properties including antioxidant, anti–cancer and cholesterol lowering effects. In addition, Carotenoids in palm oil are biologically active as pro–vitamin A.
Standard Specification of Refined Bleached Deodorized Palm Oil: