Palm oil and health


From a nutritional point of view, there is no indication that consumption of palm oil in a balanced diet is related to any specific health concern. The relation between nutrients and health must be considered within the whole diet and not in terms of single food items. 

Favorable health contribution: palm oil instead of trans fatty acids

Compared to other fats and oils, palm oil has average levels of saturated fats. A recent meta-analysis on the effect of substituting palm oil with other fats and oils on validated biomarkers of heart disease, showed that substituting palm oil by other fats resulted in a mix of favorable and unfavorable changes in markers of CHD and CVD. Clear favorable changes occurred when palm oil replaced trans fatty acids (Fattore 2014).

Here you'll find a browseable EPOA report on Trans fat reduction and replacement in Europe. You can download the PDF here.

Palm oil intake

In food products palm oil is often used in combination with other fats and oils which together determine the fatty acid composition of the product and eventually the effects on health. No Europe-wide data exists on palm oil consumption. In France, in 2013 palm oil consumption was 2.7 grams per day representing approximately 4% of the total intake of the SAFA in adults (CREDOC 2014). 

The risk of being overweight

Weight management is crucial for overall well-being and health. The risk of being overweight is one of the concerns associated with the total amount of fat in food. Reviews show that caloric restriction rather than specific macronutrient restriction is the key determinant of weight loss (Mozaffarian 2011).

The 2010 FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on Fats and fatty acids in Human Nutrition indicated that energy balance is critical to maintaining healthy body weight and ensuring optimal nutrient intakes, regardless of macronutrient distribution of energy as % total fat and % total carbohydrates (FAO/WHO 2010).