How many times have you caught yourself unaware, reading the ingredients at the back of the packet of chips you are munching on and realizing that you really don’t know what you are feeding your body. We were hit by a similar realization one fine night, while cooking instant Ramen noodles. While waiting for the noodles to boil, we happened to chance upon the ingredients used and saw Palm Oil printed. That’s when it hit us, we had seen Palm Oil at the back of so many food wraps. Curiosity got the better of us and we couldn’t help but research on Palm Oil. We were astounded at how versatile the oil is, given how commonly it is used in our day to day usage products. We couldn’t help curate a list of everything we found about Palm Oil to share it with our readers, so here it goes:
First things first,
What is Palm Oil?
Used in about 50% of all supermarket products, from Instant noodles, chocolates, cookies, lipstick, shampoo and even biofuel, Palm Oil is quite an important and versatile part of our life.
Originally native to the land of Africa, Palm Oil has been a part of human diet for more than thousand years. Produced from the fruit of the oil palm, the oils are obtained from both the flesh and the kernel of the fruit: palm oil from the fruit flesh and solid palm kernel oil from the seed of the fruit.
Here are the benefits of Palm Oil Usage:
Health and Nutrition Benefits of Palm Oil
• Rich in beta-carotene which converts to Vitamin A and Vitamin E, Palm Oil increases the levels of Vitamin A in body which helps in fighting dry eyes, infections, blindness, maintaining the health of the eyes.
• Vitamin E enhances the skin and health of hair & boosts brain health.
• On the health front, Palm Oil is reported to have helped reduce Cholesterol levels, slowing the progression of heart disease and antioxidant reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.
Food Security and Land Use Efficiency with Palm oil
Yes, these two points go hand in hand especially in the developing world.
Fact is that Oil Palm is extremely efficient (yes we read the uses), uses lesser land and needs less fertilizers & pesticides. The production of palm oil is more environment friendly because it requires less land. Did you know, Oil palm has the highest yield per hectare of all oilseed crops. India is one of the major consumer of palm oil as a source of energy and vitamins. Imagine, if Palm Oil is to be replaced with another crop, the amount of land and resources that would require. Palm Oil produces more food using less land which is very vital in today’s time given how the pressure on other resources is increasing with the rising population.
Many facets of Palm Oil
From being used as a cooking or frying oil in our kitchens to pharmaceuticals, here’s a list of all the sectors where Palm Oil plays an integral part:
• Packaged food and snacks: From instant noodles, namkeens, cookies, pizza dough, fast food, palm oil is everywhere.
• Cosmetics and Beauty Products: Made mainly from palm kernel oil, a lot of our daily usage beauty products like lipsticks have Palm oil.
• Biofuel and Energy: Palm Oil is known to be one of the more energy-efficient biodiesel fuels. In fact, diesel engines don’t have to be modified to run on palm oil biodiesel, and is more environment friendly as this releases less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than gasoline.
• Animal feed: This one point really caught our attention. Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE) is a quality stock feed containing high levels of crude protein and medium energy levels, and happens to be a by-product of the palm oil extraction process from the fruit of the palm.
• Pharmaceuticals: Given the health advantages, Palm Oil is used in the pharmaceutical industry a lot more than we can imagine.
But we came across a point that left us thinking,
Is Palm Oil’s success it’s greatest enemy?
Before you jump to any conclusions, this is an oxymoronic take! Given its numerous uses and versatility, the demand for Palm Oil is in a boom phase in quite a lot of sectors. Truth be told, Palm Oil produces more oil per land area than any of its substitute vegetable oil crop. And isn’t it great, because it’s quite in demand in our day to day life. It’s usage in food, cosmetics and 50% of our supermarket needs goes on to show that it’s nearly irreplaceable. If we resort to alternative oils like soybean or coconut oil it would require at least 4 more times the land which would add to the pressure on the uses of available and already limited resources – namely land, water furthermore putting the GDP of developing countries (which are large producers of the Oil ) in jeopardy. So let’s embrace this versatile oil which is produced all year round.
Phew, and trust us when we say this, we haven’t even touched upon quite some more uses of Palm Oil.
To read everything about Palm Oil, please visit – http://www.mpoc.org.in