Yet another study has shown that palm oil and olive oil appear to have similar neutral effects on cholesterol. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and presented at the European Palm Oil Conference (EPOC), researchers compared the effects of palm olein (from palm fruit oil) and olive oil on plasma lipid levels in healthy adults. In the randomized crossover study, 21 men and women, ranging from ages 19 to 44, replaced the fats and oils in their diet with palm olein (16:0) and olive oil (18:1), each for a 30-day interval. Researchers hypothesized that bad (LDL) cholesterol levels would be higher depending on the oil.

Instead, the participants’ cholesterol levels were not affected by alternating from palm olein to olive oil or vice versa. Both oils lowered participants’ plasma lipid profiles, despite palm olein containing saturated fats. The results agree with those of other leading researchers including work conducted by Professor KC Hayes and Dr. Pramod Khosla.

One of the most important differences between palm oil and olive oil is palm oil’s significant vitamin E tocotrienol content. Blood samples also confirmed that vitamin E plasma levels were higher when subjects were consuming palm olein. For the average, health-conscious individual, these results are encouraging. They suggest that olive oil can be replaced with palm olein without negative repercussions.

Organized by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, the EPOC was a day-long conference that discussed the research behind Malaysian red palm fruit oil and was attended by leaders and key figures in the plantation, food, non-food and energy industry sectors.

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