Palm kernel oil and coconut oil are among the most popular cooking oils. You might have heard a bit of controversy regarding both choices due to their saturated fat content and the possible impacts to heart health.
Fact is, palm kernel oil and coconut oil have many great nutritional benefits and can be great cooking oils. Still, like any other oil, you want to take care in how much you consume to avoid long-term health complications.
Here, we’ll go over the nutritional differences between palm kernel oil and coconut oil to determine the best option to include in your dishes.
What Is Palm Kernel Oil?
Before we dig into the nutritional differences between palm kernel oil and coconut oil, let’s discuss what exactly palm kernel oil is.
Palm kernel oil is very different from palm oil. While both come from the same source (palm tree), they come from different parts of the plant.
On the one hand, palm oil is made from the fruit of the palm tree. On the other hand, palm kernel oil comes from the seeds of the palm tree.
Regarding the flavor, palm kernel oil has a hint of fruit, grass, and some people might even say eucalyptus. It has a yellow-brown color and a smoking point of 220°C.
What Is Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil comes from the fruit of the coconut tree.
Making it is fairly simple. You can even make it at home. Once the coconuts are harvested, the meat is grounded with water to obtain coconut milk. During its processing, the milk and the oil are separated.
Coconut oil has a strong coconut flavor. It is a white liquid that remains solid at room temperature and has a lower smoking point at 170°C.
Nutrition Facts: Palm Kernel Oil Vs. Coconut Oil
Now that we know the difference between palm kernel oil and coconut oil, go more in-depth on the nutritional properties of each.
The following table compares the nutritional information for one tablespoon of palm kernel oil and coconut oil.
|Nutritional Aspect||Palm kernel oil||Coconut oil|
|Saturated fats (g)||11.1||11.2|
|Polyunsaturated fats (g)||0.2||0.2|
|Vitamin E (mg)||0.5||0.0|
|Vitamin K (mcg)||3.3||0.1|
As you can see, palm kernel oil and coconut oil have very similar nutritional qualities. They are both carb and protein-free. Making them an ideal option to have for those following a low-carb approach.
One of the biggest differences relies on the vitamin E content. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that can help reduce inflammation and keep the skin healthy. Palm kernel oil has a higher vitamin E content than coconut oil.
But coconut oil has medium-chain triglycerides. Since they are shorter fat chains, they don’t need to be digested and can be used as immediate energy in the body. Additionally, it seems to help increase fat oxidation, promoting weight loss.
Since both are high in saturated fats, consume them in moderation to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Smoke Point Of Palm Kernel Oil And Coconut Oil
The smoke point is when the oil starts smoking, meaning it can change the nutritional composition of the oil.
Palm kernel oil has a smoke point of around 220°C, while coconut oil has a smoke point of 175°C.
Due to the higher smoke point, palm kernel oil is a better choice when looking to cook at high temperatures, such as frying. On the other hand, coconut oil is better for low-heat cooking or having it raw.
Uses of Palm Kernel Oil And Coconut Oil
Both palm kernel oil and coconut oil are excellent options to use when baking, cooking, and making sweets or desserts.
Now, when making preparations with palm kernel oil, keep in mind that it has a grassy taste. While it is a mild taste, it might throw the balance off in some preparations.
The same applies to coconut oil. Regular coconut oil has a strong coconut taste. But, if you want to cook with coconut oil without the taste, you can get refined coconut oil. It provides all the health benefits without the taste.
While palm kernel oil is a good option for cooking, it has some controversy regarding its sustainability.
The market for palm oil is so high, in most cases, the production cannot keep up with the demand. As a result, more forests are burned to make some room for palm plantations.
As a result, several people are concerned about the sustainability of consuming palm oil.
However, coconut oil might not be a better alternative.
Due to the skyrocketing demand for coconut oil for coconut and beauty products, nowadays, there is a lot of deforestation to plant coconut trees.
So, in the end, palm kernel oil and coconut oil might not be the most environmentally friendly alternatives.
Palm Kernel Oil Vs. Coconut Oil: The Final Verdict
So, in the end, which is the best option?
Palm kernel oil is the best option if you want to cook at high temperatures. But, keep in mind it has a high saturated fat content, and it has a sizeable negative impact on the environment.
On the other hand, coconut oil is better for low-cooking options (sauteeing, dressings, or baked goods). It is still an option with a high saturated fat content, which means you must consume it in moderation. (Here are some good alternatives for cooking and baking with coconut oil.)
Remember that every oil has a different nutrient profile. So, instead of focusing only on one, include as many as possible in your diet.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, they come from different sources. Kernel oil comes from the palm kernel palm, while coconut oil comes from the coconut palm. Another difference is that kernel oil comes from the seeds of the palm, while coconut oil comes from the fruit of the coconut tree.
Palm oil is a better option since it is lower in saturated fats than palm kernel oil. Palm kernel oil has almost twice as much saturated fat as palm oil. In 100 g, palm oil has around 50 g of saturated fats, while palm kernel oil has 82 g.
Avocado oil, olive oil, coconut oil, and flax seed oil are among the best healthy options for cooking. Each has its unique blend of nutrients and different burning points. For that reason, use them accordingly to prevent them from burning when cooking.