The Versatility of Palm Oil: What is Palm Oil Used For?

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In the past few decades, palm oil has managed to earn itself a largely negative image in the media, strictly seen as a product that only contributes to mass deforestation and unethical exploitation of workers. Although these effects have absolutely been a product of the palm oil industry, they are almost entirely the product of harvesting and manufacturing that has unfortunately become riddled with corrupt practices, negatively affecting both the environment and the people working within the supply chain. 

Despite its destructive reputation, palm oil’s versatility is what makes it an incredible product, an asset that can’t be replaced by any other vegetable oil. When harvested and produced sustainably, decreasing the unfavorable effects, organic palm oil has countless benefits, allowing it to be a multifaceted resource. Curious about palm oil’s uses and merits? Keep reading to discover just how powerful this natural vegetable oil is!

  • Palm oil in food

We can’t talk about palm oil’s usages without mentioning its prevalence in the world of food. Not only can palm oil be incorporated into your recipes in your home kitchen, it’s also already found in countless prepackaged food products in the grocery store. Some of the commercially made foods containing palm oil include:


  • Instant noodles
  • Ice cream
  • Cereal
  • Peanut butter
  • Margarine
  • Cookies
  • Non-dairy creamer
  • Chocolate 

The list goes on. Walk down any grocery aisle, and you’re bound to find endless products containing palm oil. In fact, over 50% of packaged foods contain the incredible oil. Why is palm oil so excellent for use in these packaged foods? Its cooking properties are exceptional, allowing it to maintain its properties in higher temperatures than other comparable oils. Because of this, it remains semi-solid at room temperature. It has a creamy texture but not a strong taste or odor, which is why it’s perfect to enhance the texture of various products without affecting its taste or smell. It also has natural preservative qualities, improving shelf life

Packaged foods aside, palm oil has a rich history in the dishes of many cultures. Especially in West Africa, Southeast Asia, and parts of Brazil, natural palm oil is a crucial part of many dishes. These traditional dishes – from Brazilian Moqueca to Muamba Nsusu (Congolese Peanut & Palm Oil Stew) – hold a meaningful part of the cultures they belong to.

  • Health benefits of organic palm oil

Palm oil has various properties that can benefit your health. First, it serves as a wonderful source of vitamin E, an antioxidant. Vitamin E can promote brain health by protecting brain tissue. Additionally, it can aid in heart health, helping patients to fight against heart disease. It can even aid in maintaining a healthy balance of cholesterol. 

Next, palm oil contains beta carotene, notoriously found in carrots. The body converts beta carotene into vitamin A, meaning it increases the amount of vitamin A your body can absorb. Vitamin A is great for eye health, specifically for the health of your retinas. It also contains healthy unsaturated fats, as opposed to saturated fats, which many oils contain. 

As such a nutrient-rich oil, this incredible vegetable oil can help your body in many ways, especially as compared to other oils with similar properties. These oils do not offer nearly the same health benefits as organic palm oil.

  • Cosmetics

In addition to being found in countless food products, palm oil is also present in a multitude of cosmetic items. Let’s take a look at these items and examine why palm oil is needed in their ingredient lists to create the best products possible.

  • Shampoo: Because many shampoos strip the hair of its necessary nature oils, palm oil is added to add conditioning properties to counteract the drying nature of this product.
  • Soap: Similar to shampoo, soap is needed to clean, but it can strip the skin’s oils. Putting palm oil into the formulation creates a smoother product with more nourishing properties, balancing the soap out. The moisturizing elements of palm oil make it a great addition to these types of products.
  • Lipstick: As previously mentioned, palm oil has a creamy texture – which is perfect for lip products that consumers ideally want to glide on seamlessly. It also does an excellent job of holding the pigment.


  • Other commercial goods

Aside from the aforementioned categories, palm oil is found in various other products. It is used in the production of detergent, biodiesel, inks, and resins, among plenty of other things. This oil plays a significant role in a wide range of industries.

Although many people have pushed for an alternative to palm oil, the truth is that it would be much worse for the environment. Palm oil has a high yield, meaning that more of it can be made in a smaller area of land than other vegetable oils. Its high output allows for a much more effective use of land. 

Palm oil as a necessity

Ultimately, palm oil plays an important part in so many products globally. Nothing can compare to its versatility and effectiveness, despite efforts to find a replacement. With awareness being raised regarding the unethical practices in the palm oil industry, many organizations have pushed for improved standards, rather than attempting to rid the world of palm oil. Included in this effort is Natural Habitats, a leader in organic, sustainably produced palm oil. These endeavors by activists who care make a difference in the industry, creating a higher yield of fully traceable, deforestation-free palm oil. 

Interested in learning more? Check out Natural Habitats today for more information on palm oil’s benefits and the people who care about reforming natural palm production.

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