Several human clinical trials have now evaluated palm oil's effects on blood lipids and lipoproteins. These studies suggest that palm oil and palm olein diets do not raise plasma TC and LDL-cholesterol levels to the extent expected from its fatty acid composition. With maximum substitution of palm oil in a Western type diet some coronary heart disease risk factors were beneficially modulated: HDL2-cholesterol was significantly increased while the apolipoprotein B/A1 ratio was beneficially lowered by palm oil. Comparison of palm olein with a variety of monounsaturated edible oils including rapeseed, canola, and olive oils has shown that plasma and LDL-cholesterol were not elevated by palm olein. To focus these findings, specific fatty acid effects have been evaluated. Myristic acid may be the most potent cholesterol raising saturated fatty acid. Palmitic acid effects were largely comparable to the monounsaturated oleic acid in normolipidaemic subjects while trans fatty acids detrimentally increased plasma cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, lipoprotein Lp(a) and lowered the beneficial HDL-cholesterol. Apart from these fatty acids there is evidence that the tocotrienols in palm oil products may have a hypocholesterolaemic effect. This is mediated by the ability of the tocotrienols to suppress HMG-CoA reductase. These new findings on palm oil merit a scientific reexamination of the classical saturated fat-lipid hypothesis and its role in lipoprotein regulation.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.