Palm fruit oil, generally known as palm oil, is one of the edible oils cited by the Codex Alimentarius Commission of the joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme.
The oil is pressed from the orange pulp of palm fruits. Palm fruits are about the size of small plums and grow in bunches on the tropical palm oil tree. Each bunch contains a thousand or more palm fruits that are harvested throughout the year.
Originally found in West Africa, the oil palm tree is now mostly cultivated in Indonesia and Malaysia, the world’s largest palm oil-producing nations. In more recent years oil palms are also cultivated in South America and in particular in Colombia.
Like all fats and oils, palm oil is a concentrated source of energy for our body. One gram of fat provides 9 kcal, while carbohydrates and proteins provide 4 kcal per gram. Fat is the main storage form of excess energy in the body. Fats also cushion organs during movement, insulate the body and help to maintain a normal body temperature. Fats are structural components of cell membranes and hormones. Some types of vitamins (A, D, E and K) rely on fat for absorption and storage.
The World Health Organization recommends that in a healthy diet between 15 and 35% of the daily calories should be obtained from fat. This percentage varies according to the health situation of people as well as to the sort of diet (especially which staple foods are consumed). Of the total fat intake a maximum of 10% saturated fatty acids is recommended.