Sustainable Malaysian palm oil is an ingredient in many prepared foods, and is increasingly considered one of the world’s healthiest cooking oils. Here are answers to three top questions about sustainable Malaysian palm oil.
Q. Will palm oil consumption raise my blood cholesterol level?
No. A re-examination of the data of some early published Western studies which included palm oil, showed that when palm oil replaced the habitual fats of Western diets, blood cholesterol levels in the subjects did not go up but instead were reduced from 7% to 38%! Subsequent research conducted in the United States, Europe, Australia and Asia have firmly established that palm oil tends to be neutral, that is does not raise or lower blood cholesterol levels. This is because palm oil is trans fat-free, has only traces of the cholesterol-raising lauric plus myristic acids, as well as possesses a unique fat molecule configuration involving its major saturated fatty acid, palmitic acid, which renders the oil non-cholesterol raising.
Besides, palm oil has a high vitamin E tocotrienol content. Tocotrienols may have cholesterol lowering action.
Q. What else is special about tocotrienols?
Tocotrienols are much more powerful antioxidants than vitamin E tocopherols in our body. They are much more efficient scavengers of damaging reactive oxygen species produced by our body’s aerobic metabolism.
Scientific research conducted in the United States and elsewhere around the globe has demonstrated that tocotrienols have amazing beneficial health effects which include helping to:
- lower blood cholesterol levels
- reduce atherosclerotic plaque in stroke patients
- inhibit entry of white blood cells into arterial wall to become devouring phagocytes, thereby helping to limit early plaque formation
- inhibit blood clot formation in the bloodstream (anti-thrombotic effect)
- protect skin from damage by ultraviolet rays of the sun
- promote cancer cell death
- inhibit the growth and spread of breast cancer cells
Q. Is palm oil similar to coconut oil?
No. Many people mistake palm oil for coconut oil, and therefore think that palm oil is similar to palm kernel oil. It is palm kernel oil that is similar to coconut oil in terms of chemical composition, physical characteristics and uses. In addition to fatty acid composition, palm oil differs from coconut oil with respect to its impact on heart disease risk. Clinical trials conducted on human subjects have indicated that palm oil tends to be “neutral” while coconut oil is distinctly cholesterol-raising.
Robin Miller is a health and nutrition editor with more than 30 years of industry experience. She researches and writes about the nutritional benefits of palm fruit oil, with the goal of giving readers factual, science-based information that will be useful in their daily lives.