Kitchen Tips

Why is Palm Oil Central to Malaysia?

Did you know? Malaysia is the second largest producer and exporter of palm oil and accounts for 39 % of world palm oil production after Indonesia. In fact, palm oil production is vital to the Malaysian economy.

The country produces about 90 million tonnes of palm oil every year including empty fruit bunches, oil palm trunks, and oil palm fronds.


Image Courtesy: Lou Gold used under the Creative Commons Licence

How is Palm oil made?

Palm oil is derived from the fruit of the oil palms. You will be surprised to know that the oil palm produces two types of oil – palm oil from the flesh of the fruit, and palm kernel oil from the seed or kernel. For every 10 tonnes of palm oil, about 1 tonne of palm kernel oil is obtained.

The palm oil goes through several processing operations to reach the user’s requirements. The first step in processing is where the crude palm oil is extracted from the fruit and further refined to get a wide range of palm products of specified quality. The partly and wholly processed grades require little further treatment before use, offering end-user a saving in processing costs.

What are its uses?

Palm oil is one of the common ingredients used in cooking in Southeast Asia, parts of Brazil, Africa and Europe. Its consumption in the commercial food industries is growing day by day due to less costs.

Red Palm Oil (the unrefined variety) is widely used across the world as a substitute for butter and trans fat, cooking oil and shortening and in the manufacture of butter, non-dairy creamers and ice cream. It is also used in products where animal fats are unacceptable on religious grounds. Palm oil has a high resistance to oxidation and therefore a long shelf life.

Palm oil has also been used in non-food products like soaps and detergents and in the production of greases, lubricants and candles. More recently, it is also been used as a biofuel for the production of biodiesel and as an alternative to mineral oils for use in power stations.

The fatty acid derivatives of palm oil are used in the production of cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and water-treatment products.


Image Courtesy: oneVillage Initiative used under the Creative Commons Licence

Health benefits of Palm oil

Palm oil is known to be better than any other plant based oil since it has Vitamin E and A in abundance. Vitamin A is known to prevent cancer and strokes, while Vitamin E is known to nourish and protect the hair.

Red palm oil is widely used across the world since it is used in its crude form. Red palm oil has beta carotene which gives it the orange-red tint which is also present in carrots and hence it is rich in Vitamin A and is very good for the eyes.

The natural antioxidants present in palm oil act as free radicals and are believed to play a protective role in cellular aging, atherosclerosis, cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease.

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