What are the beneficial properties of palm oil?
- Since palm oil has a high melting point of 35oC, it is a semi-solid at room temperature.
- Palm oil is considered to be healthier than other vegetable oils since it doesn’t contain Trans Fatty Acids (TFA). This is because it is semi solid at room temperature. Other vegetable oils have to be partially hydrogenated to make them more solid but in food process creates trans fats or trans fatty acids, which raise cholesterol.
- Palm oil is resistant to oxidation therefore it gives a longer shelf life to bakery products. Oil oxidation is a chemical reaction involving oxygen that degrades the quality of oil. Oxidation produces rancidity in the oil, giving it an off flavour and smell.
- Palm oil is smooth and creamy in texture making it the perfect ingredient for chocolates and spread
- Unlike other vegetable oils, palm oil is odourless and colourless, making it the perfect ingredient for edible as well as non-edible products such as lipsticks
- It has a natural preservative effect allowing the products to retain their flavours and structure for a longer period of time
- Palm oil helps to increase the viscosity of a product which in turn helps the skin to retain moisture
- It is stable at high temperature so it helps to give fried products a crispy and crunchy texture.
Palm oil in food
Biscuits/Cookies - Palm oil helps to ‘shorten’ the dough which results in a crumbly and melt-in-the-mouth texture. It helps to produce cookies that are softer in texture and more compact. Cookies and biscuits made with palm oil are considered to be healthier than other cookies/biscuits produced with other vegetable oils because it is free from Trans Fatty Acids (TFA).
Bread - Since palm oil is solid at room temperature and a cheap ingredient, it is commonly used for baking. Palm oil improves the loaf volume and helps to keep the bread soft.
Breakfast bar - Palm oil keeps breakfast bars from melting during transport and is a healthier alternative to hydrogenated oils.
Butter/Margarine - Palm oil prevents butter and margarine from oxidation. Oil oxidation is a chemical reaction involving oxygen that degrades the quality of oil contributing to off flavour and smell. It provides consistency, texture ad structure. It is solid at room temperature and has no trans fats.
Cake - Since palm oil has high oxidative stability it improves the shelf life of cake. It also helps to improve the texture of the cake by making them softer and airier and increases the moistness and volume of the cake.
Cereal - Palm oil helps to keep the cereal crunchy and fresh.
Chocolate/Chocolate spread - Palm oil gives a smooth and shiny appearance to chocolate and chocolate spread. Also, it helps to stop it melting as easily in warmer temperatures.
Cracker - Palm oil is used to give crackers a creamy texture and flavour.
Crisps - Since palm oil is cheaper to produce compared to other vegetable oils, potato chips/crisps are fried in it and palm oil helps to make them more crispy.
Doughnut - Palm oil is used to fry doughnuts.
Dried nuts - Palm oil is used to roast nuts because it is the cheapest vegetable oil.
Dry/canned soup - Palm oil functions as a natural preservative in processed meals.
Fast food - Palm oil enhances the taste of processed food. It is also used for frying because it has a high melting point. It also leads to fast food being less greasy.
Frozen meal - Palm oil is added to frozen meals to prevent them from sticking and it functions as a natural preservative in processed meals.
Frozen waffle and pancake - Palm oil is used as it is cheaper than other vegetable oils.
Gravy granules - Palm oil gives a thick consistency to the gravy when hot water is added to the granules.
Ice cream - Palm oil increases the melting point for ice cream. It also provides a suitable replacement for dairy fats as they help give ice cream a thicker consistency wile keeping it smooth and creamy.
Infant formula - Palm oil is used in infant formula to replicate a fatty acid that is present in human breast milk. It is the primary fat present in instant formula. It is also used to make it creamy in texture.
Instant noodles - The average pack of instant noodles contains 20% palm oil. The instant noodles are fried in palm oil.
Microwave popcorn - Palm oil gives a buttery taste to microwave popcorn and helps the kernels to pop.
Non-dairy creamer - Palm oil aids in giving non-dairy creamer, a creamy flavour and texture.
Peanut butter - Palm oil keeps the nut oil from separating from the solid part of the nut. Adding the palm oil results in peanut butter that does not require to be stirred and spreads more evenly. It is also used to top up the nut content of peanut butter.
Dog food/cat food - Palm oil is used as fillers as it it both edible and heat resistant, giving it a longer shelf life. Since pet food is heavily processed, palm oil acts as a natural preservative to it.
Pizza base - Palm oil prevents the dough from sticking and helps to enhance the texture. It also adds a crispiness of the pizza base.
Salad dressing - Palm oil is a very stable oil due to its high content of vitamin E, a natural anti-oxidant.
Stock cube - Palm oil is added to stock cubes because of its health benefits due to nutrients like carotenoids and vitamin E.
Vegetable shortening - Palm oil is used in producing vegetable shortening because it is solid at room temperature. It also gives a thick texture that makes shortening good for cooking and baking. It also allows shortening to be very shelf-stable.
Vitamins - Superior nutrient profile which makes it useful in vitamins.
Whipping cream - Palm oil is used in whipping cream because of its superior stability and it has adequate stand-up properties in summer weather.