Allergies to Palm Kernel Oil

palm image by koko300 from

Palm kernel oil is a highly saturated fat from tropical regions that is considered healthy by many. This type of oil has been common for years in body products but has, in more recent years, began showing up in food substances.

Palm kernel oil is usually red in colour and can be used in the place of nearly any type of oil, particularly the similarly suited coconut oil.


Palm kernel oil is commonly used when making soap and candles. In recent years it has been used for making detergent, margarine, cooking oil, mayonnaise, and several different kinds of baked goods. Palm kernel is a tropical oil similar to the more popular coconut oil. In many places these two oils can be used interchangeably. Palm kernel oil can also be used as an industrial lubricant, too.


Symptoms of an allergic reaction vary from person to person. However, they are usually comprised of one or more of the following: a red, itchy rash and/or hives, coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, stuffy or runny nose, sinus congestion, facial swelling, and/or itchy eyes. A previous allergic reaction does not always indicate the symptoms that will be present during a following reaction. It is important to stay alert of symptoms as soon as they appear.

In rare cases, a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis, can occur. The symptoms of this problem include difficulty breathing, extremely low blood pressure, and/or confusion. It is important to note that the symptoms of anaphylaxis can come about suddenly and lead to unconsciousness within minutes. If you know you have this condition to palm kernel oil, it is important to see an allergist so appropriate monitoring and medication can be given.


It might appear than any food substance containing palm kernel oil would be completely off limits to someone with this type of allergy, though this is not always the case. In the case of palm kernel oil, it is usually a highly refined oil that has been heated and refined enough for the allergen to be removed. When the oil is highly refined it poses no threat to someone with a palm kernel oil allergy. While most palm kernel oils are highly refined and not allergenic, it is important to verify the refinement process before consumption in someone with a palm kernel oil allergy.

Safety for Those with Nut Allergies

Since the palm kernel is of the same family as coconut, questions often arise if palm kernel is safe for those with nut allergies. This is due partly to the fact that the USDA considers a coconut a tree nut. Those with tree nut allergies generally have more severe reactions to any substances in the nut family. Palm kernel oil is usually considered safe for those who suffer from nut allergies, providing they do not specifically have a palm kernel oil allergy. Allergies are usually caused by an inflammatory reaction in the body to a protein (although this is not the case in a palm kernel oil allergy). Palm kernel oil does not contain any proteins and, therefore, is free of any possible offending nut proteins.

Difference Between "Palm Oil" and "Palm Kernel Oil"

Palm oil is found in the fleshy portion of the palm fruit, while palm kernel oil is found in the seed or the kernel of the fruit. The two oils are very different in their fatty acid compositions In palm oil, only 50 per cent is saturated, whereas 82 per cent of palm kernel oil is saturated. This high saturation makes it more closely resemble coconut oil and will frequently be found in a solid state at room temperature.