The Western diet isn’t known for its health-promoting characteristics. Rich in refined grains, sugars and red meats, the diet is associated with obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Dr. Beverly Yates, presenting at the August 2015 Palm International Nutra-Cosmeceutical Conference (PINC), reported that Malaysian palm oil may help restore balance to the highly inflammatory Western diet. Palm oil is a versatile oil used in packaged foods around the world. It’s also a common cooking oil in Asia and Africa. This naturally trans-fat free and non-GMO oil is sustainably grown and produced in Malaysia.

Yates reported that most Americans eat a diet too high in omega-6 fatty acids, and too low in omega-3 fatty acids. While both fatty acids are essential, they play opposing roles in the body: Omega-6s support inflammation and omega-3s are anti-inflammatory. Yates explained that over time, most Westerners began eating more fat – which was fine – but also the wrong kind of fat. Our ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids went from a healthful 1:1 to an unhealthy 10 or 20:1. This imbalance promotes inflammation, which is detrimental to the body. Yates explained that inflammation may affect the brain, joints and immune system.

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She suggested looking for ways to improve the omega 6:omega 3 balance, such as including Malaysian sustainable palm oil in the diet. Palm oil contains fewer inflammatory omega-6s than commonly used Western oils, such as soybean, corn and sunflower oil. These oils have five times more omega-6s than palm oil.

Yates focused her attention on auto-immune diseases, which affect more women than men. She explained that while Western women tend to mistakenly limit fat in their diet, the fats they do consume tend to be inflammatory. She postulated that the unhealthy balance of fatty acids and/or the lack of healthy fats, may make women more susceptible to immune disorders.

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The annual PINC Conference is a venue for palm nutrient researchers to share their results with physicians, pharmacists and other researchers. Yates encouraged attendees to expand upon their research. Her presentation will be available for a limited time on the PINC 2015 webpage on the Malaysian Palm Oil Council website.

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