Effects of palm oil on health: what are the dangers?

1 12 May 2021 / by Estelle B. Facebook Twitter LinkedinPinterest Email

What are the effects of palm oil on human health? Its impact on the environment, fauna and flora is widely decried throughout the world. Should it be banned from plates or eaten in moderation? Santé sur le Net tells you all about palm oil in food.

Effects of palm oil on health

In France, approximately 130,000 tonnes of palm oil are incorporated each year into food products intended for human consumption. But more and more products labeled “palm oil free” are appearing on supermarket shelves. Indeed, palm oil is widely criticized in France and around the world for its harmful effects on:

If its harmful impact on the environment and biodiversity is no longer in doubt, what exactly is the effect of palm oil on health? Palm oil is characterized by a high proportion of saturated fatty acids, since it contains about 50% palmitic acid. Unlike many vegetable oils, this characteristic gives it a solid appearance at room temperature. Manufacturers can also hydrogenate it during preparations, which leads to the synthesis of trans-type fatty acids, recognized for their deleterious effects on health.

Read also – Soy products: stay alert!

Rich in saturated fatty acids and trans fatty acids

Palm oil is found in many processed products distributed by the food industry:

The consumption of processed products thus leads to the daily ingestion of a certain quantity of palm oil, and this from an early age. However, this oil has two disadvantages for health:

Saturated fatty acids and trans fatty acids are both involved in raising blood levels of LDL-cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and lowering HDL-cholesterol (the good cholesterol). Excessive consumption of palm oil therefore contributes to overall cardiovascular risk. The effects of palm oil on health are therefore very real.

Read also – Coconut oil, what real health benefits?

An oil to be consumed in moderation

The high and regular consumption of palm oil is a factor of hypercholesterolemia and therefore a cardiovascular risk factor. In itself, palm oil is not harmful to health, but it is above all the place it occupies in the diet that must be considered. It is indeed necessary to balance the intake of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, to reduce the overall cardiovascular risk, and limit the effects of palm oil on health.

Palm oil is not to be totally banned from the plate, but it should be consumed in moderation. ANSES thus considers that saturated fatty acids should not represent more than 12% of the recommended nutritional intake, and only 8% for the most cholesterol-lowering fatty acids such as palmitic acid. A figure that is higher than the average consumption observed among the French. Furthermore, consuming palm oil amounts to consuming processed foods, for which clinical studies clearly show deleterious effects on health (overweight and obesity, diabetes, cancer, etc.). Palm oil should therefore be consumed sparingly.

Read also – Butter or margarine, the same effect on cholesterol!

Estelle B., Doctor of Pharmacy

Sources – Palm oil: a dietary component to limit. mpedia.fr. Accessed May 4, 2021. – Palm oil: nutritional, social and environmental aspects. food-health.org. Accessed May 4, 2021.

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Estelle B. Pharmacist Specialist in medical information and therapeutic patient education. Passionate about the fields of health and the marine environment. Writes reliable scientific content with verified sources in compliance with our HIC charter.

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