Inspiration and science update at Euro Fed Lipid

Posted on: September 23, 2014

Demonising specific nutrients will not benefit health, we have to promote a balanced diet

About  900 specialists dealing with lipids, oils and fats from Europe and worldwide, gathered 14 - 17 September in Montpellier France.  From lipidomics to industrial innovation, the congress addressed 17 different topics, resulting in the biggest congress in Euro Fed Lipid history. Palm oil was an important topic at the conference. Academic and industrial experts shared the latest insights on technical  and sustainability aspects of palm oil production and the nutritional impact of palm oil in the diet. Jan-Kees Vis, receiving an award for his achievements at RSPO (Round Table on Sustainable Palm oil), illustrated the bumpy road towards sustainable palm oil production. With regard to the nutritional aspects of palm oil, Prof Legrand reassured that saturated fats are not poison and that our body makes them, because we need them to survive. Based on a recent meta-analysis,  Dr Elena Fattore argued that there are both favorable and unfavorable effects when substituting palm oil with other fats and that we need to be cautious to differentiate between different fats and oil in food based dietary guidelines.

In his lecture on dietary saturated fatty acids (SFA) Professor Philippe Legrand described recent emerging evidence that saturated fatty acids have important and specific biological roles in the cell. He presented new aspects on the metabolism of saturated fatty acids, and its biochemical and physiological roles (elucidated and putative). He mentioned that saturated fatty acids taken in moderation have no direct link to cardio vasculair disease. “Saturated fats are not poison, our body makes them, because we need them to survive”, he stated.

Italian scientist Elena Fattore presented the most recent meta-analysis  on the effect of substituting palm oil with other fats and oils on validated biomarkers of heart disease. Palm oil has intermediate levels of saturated fats compared to other dietary oils and fats. Her meta-analysis showed that substituting palm oil by other fats resulted in both favorable and unfavorable changes in markers of coronary heart disease (CHD) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) . Favorable changes occurred when palm oil was substituted with trans fatty acids. Stratified analysis showed a difference  in effect on total and LDL cholesterol at different baseline levels of age, cholesterol and energy intake of fat  as well as for country of residence. She concluded that caution should be taken to differentiate fats and oil in food based dietary guidelines for the general population. For the abstract click here.

Jan-Kees Vis (Unilever) received an award for his dedication and leadership regarding the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) initiative. He has been president of this organization for a period of almost 10 years. During which he has been driving for the development of principles and criteria of sustainable palm oil production resulting in the acceptation by all stakeholders of RSPO certified sustainable palm oil as a new product in the market. He stated that so far much has been achieved, but that the journey to full sustainable production of palm oil is a bumpy road.