A Compilation of the Nutritional Effects of Palm Oil and Palm Olein


Long Record of Safe Use

Palm oil has been a safe and nutritious source of edible oil for healthy humans for thousands of years.


Consumed Worldwide

Palm oil and its liquid fraction, palm olein, are consumed worldwide as cooking oils and as constituents of margarines and shortenings; these oils are also incorporated into fat blends used in the manufacture of a variety of food products as well as in home food preparation.


Excellent Dietary Energy Source

Like other common edible fats and oils, palm oil is easily digested, absorbed and utilized in normal metabolic processes. It plays a useful role in meeting energy and essential fatty acid needs in many regions of the world.


Free of Cholesterol and Trans Unsaturated Fatty Acids

Palm oil, like other vegetable oils, is cholestrol free. Having a moderate level of saturation, it does not require hydrogenation for use as a fat component in foods and , as such, does not contain trans fatty acids.


Rich Carotenoids

Red (unprocessed) and red or golden (specially refined) palm oils, the major cooking oils in many parts of the world, are rich sources of beta-carotene, an antioxidant and precursor of Vitamin A and tocotrienols, all of which have antioxidant properties.


Vitamin E Antioxidants

Palm oil and palm oil products are naturally occuring sources of the antioxidant vitamin E constituents, tocopherols and tocotrienols. These natural antioxidants act as scavengers of damaging oxygen free radicals and are hypothesized to play a protective role in cellular aging, atherosclerosis and cancer.


Balanced Fatty Acid Composition

Palm olein contains a mixture of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated fatty acids. The relative concentrations are 44% oleic acid, 10% linoleic acid, 40% palmitic acid and 5% stearic acid. The concentrations of palmitic and oleic acids are reversed in unfractionated palm oil i.e. 44% and 40% respectively. The fatty acid composition of palm oil is similar to that of the adipose tissue in most people on an ordinary diet.


Provides Linoleic Acid: An Essential Fatty Acid

Palm oil triglycerides carry linoleic acid predominately in the 2-position, which favours absorption and availability for use in the body.


Palm Oil is Not Palm Kernel Oil or Coconut Oil

Palm oil from the fruit of the palm is physically and chemically different from either palm kernel oil which is derived from the seed, and from coconut oil, both of which are highly saturated.

FACT 1 0

Favourable Nutritional Studies

Human feeding studies and epidemiologic data have shown that palm oil or palm olein do not ordinarily raise blood cholesterol levels in direct comparison with olive or canola and peanut oils. In several such studies blood cholesterol was reduced from entry level values and palmitic acid (16:0) was found equivalent to oleic acid (18:1) insofar as it affected cholesterol metabolism. A balance between linoleic (18:2) and palmitic (16:0) acids may be required to maximize HDL levels. Substitution of palmitic acid (16:0) from palm oil or palm olein for the lauric acid (12:0) and myristic acid (14:0) combination from palm kernel or coconut oils leads to a decrease in plasma and LDL cholesterol. Of several fats tested, including a fat blend approximating American intake, a palm oil-enriched diet fed to hamsters induced the highest level of protective HDL-chlolesterol and the greatest production of liver LDL receptors, key to removal of harmful LDL-cholesterol from the blood.



Rats fed a palm oil-enriched diet have a reduced tendency for blood clotting.


Inhibits Cancer Growth

Red palm olein is a major source of carotenoids which effectively inhibit some types of cancer. A diet containing palm oil, compared to diets based on other oils but which provide the same number of calories, exerted an inhibitory effect on the development and incidence of experimentally-induced breast cancer in rats. It has also been shown that the tocotrienols present in palm oil inhibit the growth of cancer cells in vivo as well as in vitro.

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