Tropical oils like the coconut oil and palm oil are both used for commercial food purposes. Both contain high amounts of saturated fat and lasts longer compared to traditional vegetable oils that we are used to. By comparing both, we can see how they differ and how they are used. Let’s begin.

Coconut Oil

  • Coconut oil, as the name suggests, is an oil that came from coconuts harvested from coconut palm trees, a tree that can only be seen in tropical and subtropical regions all over the world. Most coconut oils are made from copra (the meat) of the coconut. It undergoes a series of processes starting from refinement down to purification, and lastly, bleaching. We also have the “virgin” coconut oil which didn’t come from copra, and also contains fewer chemicals compared to the standard coconut oil.

Where it’s Used

  • Coconut oil is mostly used in blended oils and shortenings to create a subtle coconut flavor on dishes. Popular snacks such as hash browns and popcorn are all made with the help of coconut oil. A coconut oil’s smoke point only reaches up to 351 degrees F which is below high temperatures of frying oils like the ones used in cooking peanut oil.

Palm Oil

  • Palm oil came from the fruit of the oil palm, a plant that can only be seen in Africa, but now expanded to tropical regions across the globe. Palm oil splashes a reddish color because of its high levels of carotenoids. And just like coconut oil, palm oil also has a high amount of saturated vegetable fat as well. Palm oil became popular because of its affordability, stability, and its ability to blend well with other oils, and lastly, its resistance to oxidization.

Where It’s Used

  • Palm oil is used for baked goods, margarine, and our favorite snack—ice cream. Almost all processed foods contain palm oil as part of their ingredients. It can also be used as cooking oil as well for frying noodles, donuts, potato chips, and more. Don’t have butter? Palm oil got you covered! You can use it on pastry dough and baked goods thanks to its solidity at room temperature mainly because of its high levels of saturated fat content.

Health Considerations

  • Coconut and Palm oil contains high amounts of saturated fat; 92% for coconut oil, and 50% for palm oil. However, nutritionists don’t see these oils as healthy alternatives compared to olive oil, but they are not harmful when used in smaller quantities. In fact, not all saturated fats are created equal. Take lauric acid as an example. It is the main saturated fat in coconut oil but doesn’t negatively affect the ratio of the low and high density of lipoprotein in our blood. Research also shows that both palm and coconut oil poses less of a health risk compared to animal-based fats. And most dietitians also recommend coconut oil and palm oil for a healthy balanced diet.

Life Span

  • Because of their high saturated fat content, coconut oil and palm oil can resist oxidation naturally. Which makes these oils perfect for high-temperature cooking and survive for up to 1-2 years on the shelf without turning rancid.

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