Palm oil

Also known as: 
dende oil

Palm oil is an edible plant oil derived from the pulp of the fruit of the oil palm Elaeis guineensis. Palm oil is naturally reddish because it contains a high amount of beta-carotene (though boiling it destroys the carotenoids and renders the oil colourless). Palm nuts, the fruit of the African oil palm, are not much bigger than grapes and grow in large bunches. They are orange-red in color, and their pulp and oil give a distinctive color and taste to many African soups and stews. Palm oil is one of the few vegetable oils relatively high in saturated fats (like palm kernel oil and coconut oil) and thus semi-solid at room temperature. Like all other vegetable oils, palm oil has been legally designated as cholesterol-free. The oil is widely used as a cooking oil, an ingredient in margarine, and is a component of many processed foods. Since palm oil is less unsaturated than such highly unsaturated oil as soybean oil, corn oil and sunflower oil, it can withstand extreme deep fry heat and is resistant to oxidation. Palm oil is a very common cooking ingredient in the regions where it is produced such as Africa and South East Asia. Palm oil is a versatile, healthy, trans fat-free oil for cooking, frying and baking.

Commonly used in: 
frying, sautéing, baking etc.

Health benefit: 
Among other things, palm oil is composed of fatty acids, esterified with glycerol just like any ordinary fat. It is high in saturated fatty acids and is the largest natural source of tocotrienol, part of the vitamin E family. Palm oil is also high in vitamin K, carotenoids and dietary magnesium. Red palm oil is known to be healthier than refined (discolored) palm oil. Palm oil is applied to wounds, just like iodine tincture, to aid the healing process.