We use vegetable oils in frying, baking, roasting, and cooking in general. When you go the market or Shop, you would find different types of vegetable oils: soybeans oil, canola oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, and palm oil to mention a few. However, there are some oils that have the name “Vegetable oil” being sold for the Nigerian market. Popular brands are the Devon Kings, Mamador, and Power oil. Many of these brands also have refined Palm Olein written on them.
So, what is Palm Olein and how it is made?
Palm Olein is a derivative of the Palm Oil.
Let me tell you a little about Palm oil so that you know the difference between palm oil and Palm Olein.
Palm oil is one of the oils that are commonly consumed in Africa. It is produced from the Palm tree (Elais guineensis) which is common in the tropics. The top three producers are Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. Palm oil is extracted from the pulp of the palm fruit. The high carotenoid content (alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and lycopene) is responsible for the reddish colour of the palm oil. Crude palm oil is pressed out from the pulp and it is purified, clarified and sold in the market place.
Palm oil has always been known mostly for the saturated fats that it contains but in truth, it contains both saturated and unsaturated fats. Crude palm oil contains about 50% saturated fats and about 50% unsaturated fats. A tablespoon (13.6g) of crude palm oil contains 120kcals; 6.7g of saturated fats (mostly palmitic acid), 6.3g of unsaturated fats of which 5.0g is monounsaturated (same oleic acid that is in olive oil) and 1.3g is polyunsaturated (linoleic acid). It also contains about 2.17mg of Vitamin E and 1.1mcg of Vitamin K. The carotenoid – beta carotene – is converted to vitamin A in the body.
Palm oil usually has the semi-solid part which is called Palm Stearin and the liquid part which is called Palm Olein. To get the Refined Palm Olein that is consumed in Nigeria, the crude palm oil either goes through a physical refining or chemical refining. For the physical refining, the palm oil goes through a degumming process to remove impurities. It is then bleached and deodorized. After deodorization, refined Palm Oil is produced. This refined palm oil goes through a process of fractionation to produce Palm Olein and Palm Stearin.
In general, Palm Olein has a higher content of Oleic acid (monounsaturated fatty acid) than palm oil and slightly less palmitic acid (saturated fatty acid) and while the Palm Stearin has more palmitic acid and less of Oleic acid.
The difference between the crude Palm Olein and refined Palm Olein is that the carotenoids have been destroyed during the refining. So if you are looking to get vitamin A from your Palm Olein, you have to look elsewhere.
Palm Olein can sometimes be blended with other oils like soybeans oil; because they are stable, they can give other oils some stability also (depending on the ratios of the blend).
The various brands of vegetable oils made from Palm Olein all say that it is healthy. Is Palm Olein really healthy? Stay tuned.