When talking about palm kernel oil it’s important to note the distinction between palm kernel oil and palm oil. It’s easy to think these are the same thing, but they are, in fact, notably different. Palm oil is extracted from the palm fruit, whereas palm kernel oil is extracted from the palm seed. They have been used in the food industry for a while and both, along with some other tropical oils, were used as the main replacement for trans fats when they were removed from the market. They both have ideal melting properties, are useful for high-temperature cooking, are used to stabilize other oils in processed foods, and can increase shelf life. Although they both come from palm fruit they actually have very different nutritional values.
Palm Oil has some potential health risks such as possible effects on heart health and raising LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, but it also has some good properties. It is high in vitamins A and E and has a lot of good antioxidant properties.
While palm oil isn’t entirely bad and does have some good qualities, it is much better for you than palm kernel oil (which is very prevalent in the bar industry). Palm kernel oil is far more processed than palm oil because it must be extracted from the seed itself. It also has a much higher concentration of saturated fat and can raise your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Some research has also shown that the specific fatty acids in palm kernel oil can create resistance to appetite-suppressing hormones your body creates. This can lead to you eating more even though you are no longer hungry.
Besides these facts, the sourcing of palm oil and palm kernel oil inflict some very negative effects on the environment. Mass production of them has led to massive deforestation, destruction of habitats, millions of tons of greenhouse gases, as well as the exploitation of workers and child labor. If you buy a product with palm oil (or palm kernel oil) in it, be sure it is sustainably sourced to ensure that the oils have been grown, produced, and processed ethically.