Health summit endorses palm oil as heart friendly
Experts at the health summit recently held in Lagos have endorsed palm oil as heart friendly, saying it contains antioxidants, beta-carotene, tocotrienols, and tocopherols, among others in its crude red form.
Speaking at the summit, Prof Osaretin Odia of Department of Medicine, University of Port Harcourt said, red palm oil is a refined version of raw oil palm fruits, which retains a significant amount of carotenoids, and vitamins that are heart friendly.
According to him, contrary to the bad press about it, Palm oil has about 40 per cent oleic acid, which has been demonstrated in several studies to have beneficial effects on serum lipids and cardiovascular disease (CVD).
He explained; “strong evidence remains that replacement of unsaturated fats with saturated ones, particularly monounsaturated fats (MUFA), are effective in reducing the risk of CVD.”
This he said according to Deakin et al 2011 forms the basis of current recommendations across Europe and the United States of America (USA).
“Studies have showed that diets containing palm oil significantly reduced the levels of cholesterol in the serum of subjects who had normal serum cholesterol levels at baseline compared to the effect of the mostly polyunsaturated soybean oil,” he expressed.
Odia in his presentation pointed out that Palmitic acid, which is the saturated fat content in palm oil does not significantly raise Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol in patients with normal cholesterol levels.
He was however quick to state that though when refined, palm oil is very versatile as compared to other vegetable oils, but when bleached, it becomes hydrogenated killing all its vitamins and component.
He also noted that bleached palm oil develops trans fat, a nonexistence fat that has detrimental effects on lipid profiles and general health. “And that is why we discourage fry and re fry with the same oil for a long time,” he stated.
The summit, which was themed “Lipids and Cardiovascular Health In The Nigerian Population,” according to the President of Nigerian Heart Foundation (NHF), Prof. Oladipo Akinkugbe was geared towards looking “particularly at the role of palm oil which forms th§e basis of Nigeria’s national oil for cooking,” and its possible benefits or effects.
Akinkugbe in his address pointed out that the cholesterolemic ability of palm oil may be considered minimal, though it needs to be scientifically documented.
He further stated that it is significant to evaluate through evidence the high level of saturated fatty acid present in the oil and its relationship in the Nigerian population.
According to him, over 90 and 60 per cent of Nigerians in rural and urban areas respectively consume palm oil, “so it is important to really define certain data on its consumption as well as the kinds of saturated fats it contains and the relative importance of cholesterol and its various allies.”
“So we are trying to understand the real role and worth of palm oil consumption in our community,” he added. The summit came to a consensus that the causes of the rise in CVD are beyond the confine of the health sector alone, therefore a collaborative approach is needed so that policies in non-health sectors of government can be developed to promote cardiovascular health.
The experts also consented that further research be conducted in relevant regards since there is a study increase in the prevalence of ischemic heart disease in the country as documented evidence shows the effects of lipids in Nigerians.
The summit, as well acknowledged the existence of a nutritional guideline for the prevention, control and management of non communicable diseases (NCDs) in Nigeria in the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) as well as identified Insufficient data on the biochemical quality of palm oil and the implication of its continues consumption on heart health in Nigerians.
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