Palm oil comes from the fruit of the Elaeis guineensuis tree, also called the African oil palm tree. Native to Malaysia, the tree bears a fleshy fruit which is the source of palm oil. Palm oil is the most versatile of all vegetable oils. Consisting of 50% saturated fat and 50% unsaturated fat it is semi-solid at room temperature. It is also odorless and tasteless. These two properties have made palm oil ideal for baked goods and packaged foods. Palm oil also works well with fried foods and stir-fry, because its quality doesn't diminish under extremely high heat. Unlike most nutritional oils, palm oil is highly resistant to oxidation, giving it a longer shelf life.
Along with other tropical oils, palm oil has been written off for decades because of its saturated fat content. The saturated fatty acids of palm oil, like coconut oil, are actually not as harmful as the public believes, and in fact actually have health benefits. They are medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCT's are only found in mothers milk, tropical oils, and milk fat. They are extremely easy for the body to digest, increasing energy efficiency. Medium chain fats can be directly converted into energy in the liver, unlike other fats which must be processed in the intestine and then absorbed into the bloodstream. MCT's are a valuable source of nutrition for people who cannot easily digest other fats, as well as athletes who can benefit from the highly efficient energy.
Not only is palm oil a rare source of medium chain fatty acids, it is also a source of healthy unsaturated fats. As a vegetable oil, palm oil is a cholesterol free food. It is a well-balanced fat, with 39% oleic acid (omega-9) and 10% linoleic acid (omega-6). These essential fatty acids help to lower blood cholesterol levels in the body. They are necessary for bone, joint, and skin health.
Palm oil is a rich source of antioxidants. It is the richest vegetable oil source of tocotrienols - which are a potent form of vitamin E. Vitamin E strengthens the immune system, and protects skin cells from toxins and UV radiation. From its reddish-orange hue, palm oil is also a good source of beta-carotene, a nutrient found in sweet potatoes, carrots, and other orange foods. Like all vegetable oils - it is cholesterol-free. Furthermore, it contains no trans fatty acids.
Palm fruit oil increases 'good' HDL, compared to other saturated oils, such as coconut oil to promote a healthy cardiovascular health.
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