The oil palm is the world’s number one oilseed crop in terms of productivity. Nearly 6,000 litres of crude palm oil can be extracted from one hectare of oil palms. As a comparison, soybean can produce only about 450 litres of oil per hectare. It is best planted along the Equatorial where there is ample sunshine and rainfall all year long. One such place where the cultivation of oil palm has flourished is Malaysia, which has become the world’s leading grower of oil palm and producer of sustainable palm oil.

Unlike other vegetable oils, palm oil is naturally semi solid at room temperature. It can be physically fractionated into liquid and solid fractions. These products are used in a variety of products ranging from cooking oil, snacks, pastries, ice-creams, infant formula to detergents, surfactants, pharmaceuticals, toiletries and cosmetics.

Being one of nature’s richest sources of vitamin E, palm oil also contains pro-Vitamin A carotenoids and has been shown to protect the body against a number of illnesses such as diabetes, thrombosis, certain types of cancers, blindness and neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. Moreover, palm oil offers the same effects of lowering cholesterol as olive oil.

Many experts advise using palm oil for deep frying as it has a high smoke point. It is capable of withstanding heat up to 235oCelsius, a temperature that would cause other oils to vaporise. Food manufacturers choose palm oil because it requires little or no hydrogenation; making the foods made primarily from palm oil essentially free of trans fats. Malaysia exports its palm oil to more than 90 countries including Pakistan, which is one of the largest importers of this commodity.

AMMAR MUZAFFAR,

Karachi, December 5.