Nutritional And Health Aspects Of Palm

Recent years have seen a considerable amount of anti-palm-oil publicity, claiming that palm oil is unhealthy because of its saturated fat content. The allegation, however, has been challenged by recent animal and human feeding experiments (15). New findings now indicate that not only has palm oil little effect on raising blood cholesterol levels, but, in many instances, its consumption has led to a reduction in blood cholesterol levels (Table 3). The rationale for palm oil's lack of a cholesterol-raising effect despite the fact that it is classified as a saturated fat may be attributed to the following:

• Its conspicuous lack of the cholesterol-raising 12:0 lauric acid and 14:0 myristic acid (the two acids accounting for less than 1.5% of total).

• Its principal saturated fatty acid, the 16:0 palmitic acid, is now regarded as neutral and certainly much less cholesterolemic than previously thought (19).

• Moderate abundance of the cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated 18:1 oleic acid plus adequate amounts of the essential 18:2 linoleic acid.

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