The oil palm tree Elaeis guineensis originated in the tropical rainforest of West Africa but quickly spread to Asia and America. The leaves and palm fruit are the two most economically important parts of the tree.
Palm kernel oil differs from palm oil, as it is obtained from the kernel of the fruit by cold pressing while palm oil is extracted from the fruit’s fleshy part.
Also, its physical and chemical properties differ significantly from palm oil. It is light and amber-colored with a sharp melting point and a fruity smell, while palm oil is bright red and thick.
However, it is similar to coconut oil in chemical composition – they both contain lauric acid and other saturated fatty acids.
Palm kernel oil Nutrition
Palm kernel oil is high in saturated fats, mainly lauric and myristic acid. It does not contain cholesterol or trans fats.
It remains stable at high cooking temperatures and has a longer shelf life than other vegetable oils.
100 grams of palm kernel oil approximately provides:
- Calories: 862
- Total fat: 100g
- Total saturated fat: 82 g
- Lauric acid: 48 g
- Myristic acid: 16 g
- Palmitic acid: 8 g
- Capric acid: 3 g
- Caprylic acid: 3 g
- Stearic acid: 3 g
- Total unsaturated fat: 17 g
- Oleic monounsaturated acid: 15 g
- Linoleic polyunsaturated acid: 2 g
- Vitamin E: 4 mg
- Cholesterol: 0 g
- Trans fatty acids: 0 g
The oil also provides unsaturated fatty acids like oleic and linoleic acid, making it highly beneficial in skincare.
Benefits for Hair
Palm kernel oil’s rich content of fatty acids like lauric acid, palmitic acid, oleic acid, and linoleic acid is responsible for its diverse use in hair care products.
The following are its benefits in hair care:
Palm kernel oil helps seal moisture in the hair. It lubricates the hair, removes dullness, and improves hair shine.
It is also very light and softens hair without leaving any grease residue.
The diverse fatty acid content of palm kernel oil helps to strengthen weak or damaged hair.
It penetrates easily into hair roots to stimulate hair growth and reduces hair loss.
Palm kernel oil has a cooling effect that helps to relieve itching from dandruff and eczema.
It is ideal for newborn babies suffering from dermatitis or itchy scalp; as it is light, easy to wash off, and does not leave any sticky or greasy residue.
Benefits for Skin
Palm kernel oil is immensely beneficial in skincare. The following are its benefits:
The newborn skin is highly sensitive and prone to dryness.
Palm kernel oil serves as a natural protective barrier to the skin and protects baby skin from drying out.
Also, it serves as an emollient that moisturizes a baby’s skin and promotes healthy growth.
Palm kernel oil’s content of vitamin E and oleic acid (omega-9) helps prevents the appearance of wrinkles associated with aging.
The oil also helps to maintain the softness and radiance of the skin.
Palm kernel oil is rich in lauric acid, linoleic acid, and other fatty acids that help to treat and prevent the spread of acne.
Applying it to acne-prone skin will soothe acne, reduce inflammation, remove dead skin, and prevent future outbreaks.
However, it is best to apply it for only short periods on oily skin.
Cleansing and moisturizing
Palm kernel oil is the major constituent of hard soaps and shampoos due to its lauric acid content. It helps soaps lather easily and cleanses more effectively.
It is also non-allergenic and leaves the skin soft, deeply cleansed, and moisturized.
Benefits for Health
Palm kernel oil is incredibly useful in different health conditions. The following are its benefits:
Cold and cough
In African medicine, a mixture of palm kernel oil and garlic is an effective remedy for treating the common cold in babies and toddlers.
The mixture is applied to the chest, forehead, and back to relieve cold and reduce mucus. It works very fast and is relatively non-expensive.