Oil palm fruit illustration

Know the Difference Between Palm Oil and Palm Kernel Oil

Oil palms (Elaeis guineensis) produce palm fruits that offer numerous benefits to life. Some of the palm products include palm oil and palm kernel oil. At first glance, they sound similar, but palm oil and palm kernel oil are different. How is palm oil and palm kernel oil different?

A brief introduction to palm oil and palm kernel oil

Palm oil illustration

Palm oil and palm kernel oil are very different, though they both came from the same oil palm. Through steaming and pressing the fleshy part of the fruit, palm oil is obtained. Palm oil contains the most nutrients. The process is similar to obtaining olive oil.

Containing a 50/50 ratio of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, palm oil is good for your heart. However, palm kernel oil which is extracted through the fruit’s seed is high in saturated fatty acids. This high content of saturated fatty acids may lead to increase cholesterol levels, hence increasing the risk of heart diseases.

Both palm oil and kernel oil are versatile oils derived from various parts of the oil palm fruit. The outer part of the oil palm fruit called flesh or pulp is used to extract palm oil. Meanwhile, the seed in the inner part of the oil palm fruit is used to extract palm kernel oil.

Despite the fact that both oils came from the same oil palm fruit, palm oil and palm kernel oil are chemically and nutritionally distinct. Let us find out more about the differences.

The sources to obtain palm oil and palm kernel oil

From the sources, it is concluded that palm oil and palm kernel oil are obtained through different sources. Palm oil is extracted from the flesh or pulp of the fruit. As for the palm kernel oil, it is extracted from the soft part of the seed in the inner part of the oil palm fruit.

As the consequence, the methods to obtain palm oil and palm kernel oil will be different. The fleshy part of the fruit may produce palm oil if it is steamed and pressed under certain conditions.

The applications of the oil and kernel oil

Frying fried food uses palm-related oil

Since palm oil and palm kernel oil are different, the application of palm oil and palm kernel oil are also different. With an approximately balanced ratio of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, palm oil is often used for edible purposes.

To summarize, palm oil is used for consumption since palm oil does not have excessive saturated fatty acids. It will be a different story for palm kernel oil.

Palm kernel oil is generally used for non-edible purposes. The palm industry will utilize palm kernel oil to formulate soaps, cosmetics, detergents, and any personal care ingredients. Edible purposes are often not recommended due to the high saturated fatty acids content of palm kernel oil.

Contents and their characteristics

From its contents, palm oil is a rich source of carotenoids and vitamin E. Carotenoids and vitamin E are important to protect the skin by reducing UV damage in the skin. This is the reason why palm oil sometimes is added as an ingredient in personal care products.

As for the stability, palm kernel oil remains stable at high cooking temperatures. Palm kernel oil is lower in cost and allows for a longer shelf life than other vegetable oils. Though palm kernel oil is popularly used in commercial cooking and frying, we still have to be cautious. The saturated fatty acids content of palm kernel oil is high for edible purposes. This will lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

Saturated acids and unsaturated fatty acids: Health issue

Fried food from cooking

In short, high saturated fatty acids content is risky for the heart if consumed by humans constantly. The saturated fatty acids vs unsaturated acids ratio of the palm oil are balanced. It is reported that palm oil contains 40% monounsaturated fatty acid, 10% polyunsaturated acid, and 50% saturated fatty acids.

The monounsaturated fatty acid is oleic acid, while the polyunsaturated fatty acid is linoleic acid. As for the saturated fatty acids, they are palmitic acid and stearic acid with 45% and 5% of share, respectively. This mixture produces an edible oil that can be used in a variety of food applications.

Palm kernel oil is more saturated than palm oil, hence may increase the risk of health-related diseases. Palm kernel olein and palm kernel stearin can be obtained by fractionating the palm kernel oil. This process is similar to the palm oil transformation into palm olein and palm stearin by fractionation.

Are palm oil and palm kernel oil different?

Yes, they are different. The palm oil and palm kernel are obtained from the same source but in different parts. Both have different major applications, contents, and characteristics. To highlight, palm kernel oil is popular for commercial cooking even though it contained high saturated fatty acids.

However, palm oil has a balanced ratio of saturated fatty acids vs unsaturated fatty acids, which is more suitable to be used for edible purposes. Although the ratio is good for health than palm kernel oil, palm kernel oil is common to be used. The reason is palm kernel oil is stable at high cooking temperatures and low in cost. Thus, this makes palm kernel oil often used in cooking and frying.

Tradeasia International as a global palm oil and palm kernel oil supplier provides various grades of palm oil and palm kernel oil for market and industry solutions. Get crude palm oil or RBD palm oil and crude palm kernel oil or RBD palm kernel oil right now.

By Patricia Ho, Student Academy in Tradeasia Academy Batch 2, Tradeasia International

Proofread and reviewed by Muhammad Derry Luthfi Yudhi, Content Support, Tradeasia International

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