Palm oil and its applications

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Oil palm tree, also known by its biological name, Elaeis Guineensis, grow up to 20 meters in height and has an average lifespan of about 25 years, bears palm fruits that contains 50% oil in each one of them. Palm oil can be harvested 12 months a year, and requires less land compared to other oil-producing crops.

Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Colombia and Nigeria are the top producers of palm oil. Although palm oil has several applications and benefits, one of the main negative impacts associated with palm oil is deforestation. Deforestation contributes to climate change and global warming. However many palm oil and other palm products producers in the recent days have started taking steps to curb deforestation.

Coming to the applications of palm oil, the traditional purposes of using palm oil include cooking oil, confectionary fats, shortenings and margarines. Palm oil is used in producing ghee, Vanaspati, spreads and also non-dairy products. Studies have shown that consuming palm oil in the right quantities lowers cholesterol level, improves skin & hair health, boost brain health, improves Vitamin A in our bodies, protects heart etc.

Palm oil finds its applications in non-food industry as well. Palm oil products are used in the manufacture of soaps and detergents, cosmetics, pharmaceutical products etc. Since the nutritional value of palm oil is similar to that of coconut oil, it is often substituted for coconut oil. Many food manufacturers and restaurants have started using palm oil as healthy substitute for butter after Harvard’s nutrition studies, as it is less saturated than butter and contains no trans-fat.

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