Palm oil and palm kernel oil are very different, even though they both come from the same oil palm tree (Elaeis guineensis). The most nutrition is found in palm oil, which is made by simply steaming and pressing the fleshy part of the fruit. This is similar to how olive oil is made. Palm oil has a heart-healthy 50/50 balance of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. But palm kernel oil, which is extracted from the fruit’s seed, contains about 85 percent saturated fatty acids and is thought to raise cholesterol.
Palm oil and palm kernel oil are both tropical oils which come from the fruit of the oil palm trees grown sustainably Malaysia, a country which adheres to a strict, nationwide sustainability certification program. These versatile oils, however, have very different chemical compositions and physical characteristics.
- Palm oil, sometimes called palm fruit oil, is the most widely consumed vegetable oil on the planet and is found in about half of our packaged foods. It is naturally cholesterol-free, trans-fat free and non-GMO. Palm oil is also nature’s richest source of vitamin E tocotrienols, which support heart, liver and brain health. Red palm oil gets its beautiful orange color from its high beta carotene content. It has more carotenes (pro-Vitamin A) than carrots.
- Palm kernel oil, which has a chemical composition similar to coconut oil, is now mainly used for non-edible purposes such as making soaps, cosmetics and detergents.
Palm oil is a versatile substitute for other vegetable oils. It has a buttery texture and is flavor neutral. It can be used in most recipes including baked goods. It stands up to high heat without breaking down, which makes it an excellent choice for BBQ marinades, stir fry and fried foods.