Substituting palm oil for other primary dietary fats makes a product not necessarily healthier

Posted on: September 10, 2014

Italian research didn’t find arguments to substitute palm oil by other fats in order to prevent cardio vascular diseases. A meta‐analysis indicated both favorable and unfavorable changes in coronary heart disease (CHD) and cardiovascular diease (CVD) risk markers when palm oil was substituted for the primary dietary fats, whereas favorable changes occurred when palm oil was substituted for trans fatty acids.

The results, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition earlier this year, will be presented by Elena Fattore at the 12th Euro Fed Lipid Congress to be held next week in Montpellier (France), September 14 - 17, 2014.

Background
Palm oil has almost equal amounts of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids and very low levels of trans fatty acids (<1%). Background of the research was the assumption that  palm oil is an unhealthy fat because of its relatively high saturated fatty acid content related to most other dietary fats.

Method
Researchers performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of dietary intervention trials. Studies were eligible if they included original data comparing palm oil-rich diets with other fat-rich diets and analyzed different CHD/CVD biomarkers. Fifty-one studies were included.

Results
Researchers found that compared to palm oil:

  • Oils and fats rich in lauric and myristic acid increase total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol. The LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio does not change significantly.
  • Fats and oils rich in stearic acid lower total cholesterol, LDL and HDL cholesterol, as well as the LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio.
  • Oils rich in MUFA or PUFA lower the total cholesterol, LDL and HDL-cholesterol. The total/HDL cholesterol ratio does not change significantly.
  • Hydrogenated fats rich in trans fatty acids lower the HDL-cholesterol and increase triglycerides.

Conclusion
Substituting palm oil by other dietary fats makes a product not necessarily healthier with regard to CHD. When comparing different fats and oils with palm oil, the total/HDL cholesterol ratio does not change significantly, except when compared with trans fatty acids resulting in an improved ratio for palm oil.

Elena Fattore, researcher at the Department of Environmental Health Sciences of the "Mario Negri" Institute for Pharmacological Research in Milano, Italy will present a lecture on selected nutritional aspects of palm oil at the 12th Euro Fed Lipid Congress to be held in Montpellier (France), September 14 - 17, 2014.

The presentation takes place Wednesday the 17th September at 9:40h-10:00h AM at the ‘Lipids in nutrition’ session in lecture hall Antigone 3.

Calendar events