In recent times there has been a growing research interest in palm oil, one of the major edible plant oils in the tropical countries, because of the link between dietary fats and coronary heart disease. Obtained from a tropical plant, Elaesis guineensis, it has a polyunsaturated fatty acid/saturated fatty acid ratio close to unity and a high amount of antioxidant vitamin A precursors and vitamin E. Palm oil is consumed in the fresh state and/or at various levels of oxidation. Feeding experiments in various animal species and humans have highlighted the beneficial role of fresh palm oil to health. These benefits include reduction in the risk of arterial thrombosis and atherosclerosis, inhibition of cholesterol biosynthesis and platelet aggregation, and reduction in blood pressure. However, a considerable amount of the commonly used palm oil is in the oxidized state which possesses potential dangers to the physiological and biochemical functions of the body. Oxidation is as a result of processing the oil for various culinary purposes. Studies have revealed that relative to fresh palm oil, oxidized palm oil induces an adverse plasma lipid profile, free fatty acids, phospholipids and cerebrosides. Additionally, oxidized palm oil induces reproductive toxicity and organotoxicity particularly of the kidneys, lungs, liver and heart. Available evidence suggests that at least part of the oxidized oil impact on health reflects generation of toxicants due to oxidation. The reduction of the dietary level of oxidized oil and/or the level of oxidation may reduce the health risk associated with consumption of oxidized fats.
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Ebong, P., Owu, D. & Isong, E. Influence of palm oil ( Elaesis guineensis) on health. Plant Foods Hum Nutr 53, 209–222 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1008089715153
- Fatty acids
- Health hazards
- Palm oil