Nutritionists warn excessive palm oil consumption dangerous to cardiovascular health



Nutritionists warn excessive palm oil consumption dangerous to cardiovascular health

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People with heart disease and high cholesterol have been warned by nutrition experts to avoid consuming palm oil, warning that excessive intake of it can accelerate the progression of cardiovascular diseases.


Palm oil, according to them, contains high levels of saturated fats, which have been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Based on this, the food experts urged people with heart-related diseases to limit their intake of processed foods, which often contain palm oil.

The World Health Organisation described cardiovascular diseases as a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels, which include coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, rheumatic heart disease, and other conditions.

The WHO noted that CVDs are the leading cause of death globally, taking an estimated 17.9 million lives each year.

According to the global health body, more than four out of five CVD deaths are due to heart attacks and strokes, while one-third of such deaths occur prematurely in people under 70 years of age.

Speaking exclusively with PUNCH Healthwise, the nutritionists advised people with heart disease or high cholesterol to focus on consuming foods high in unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, avocado oil, and fish.

While noting that palm oil has some health benefits such as being rich in antioxidants, the experts maintained that high levels of saturated fats can offset or diminish such good benefits.

Speaking with PUNCH Healthwise, a nutritionist, Odunayo Babatunde said consuming too much palm oil raises the risk of cardiovascular disease due to its high saturated fat content.

Odunayo Babatunde
Odunayo Babatunde
She noted that this can contribute to heart disease by increasing levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, which can build up in the arteries, causing blockages.

The food expert stressed that eating more than 10 per cent of the total calories of a particular food from palm oil is considered excessive.

She explained, “Eating more than 10 per cent of your total calories from palm oil is considered excessive. For a 2000-calorie diet, this amounts to around 22 grams or 2 teaspoons.

“Refined palm oil has fewer micronutrients and antioxidants than unprocessed virgin palm oil. However, refined palm oil has fewer pollutants. The health risks stem primarily from saturated fat intake, regardless of the kind.

“Palm oil has health advantages such as vitamin E, and some red palm oil contains carotenoids. However, the hazards outweigh the advantages of high ingestion.

“People with high cholesterol or a history of heart disease should be more cautious about palm oil consumption since it might aggravate lipid profiles and accelerate disease progression.

“Excess palm oil consumption can aggravate lipid profiles and accelerate cardiovascular disease progression in persons with the aforementioned diseases.”

The nutritionist, however, stated that exposing children to high levels of palm oil consumption can result in lifetime taste preferences for fatty foods, raising their chance of obesity and heart disease in later years.

Babatunde said, “Children should avoid excessive palm oil consumption because it can create lifelong taste preferences for fatty foods and increase the risk of obesity and heart disease later in life.

“Virgin (unrefined) palm oil, consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet, is the healthiest option. Do not reuse palm oil for cooking.

“Healthy cooking oil choices include olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, and nut oils.”

Meanwhile, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Ede Ebele noted that people might benefit from the positive effects of palm oil when they take it in moderation.

She stressed that excessive consumption can lead to obesity and cardiovascular diseases.

“Palm oil is safe when consumed in moderation. Palm oil has an equal amount of saturated and unsaturated fat i.e. 50%-50%. So when consumed in moderation, you can reap the protective effect but when consumed in excess, it can lead to obesity and cardiovascular diseases,” she explained.

On how to identify when palm oil is in excess, the food expert said, “When you cook, if the amount of oil you use forms a thick layer on your soup or floats excessively on the surface, then that is excessive.

“If after cooking and eating, your plate of food appears overly glossy, indicating that it has been excessively coated with palm oil, then that indicates excessive consumption.

“Generally, WHO recommends that the total amount of saturated fats, like those in palm oil, should be less than 10 per cent of all the energy you get from food in a day.

“For instance, if you are to consume 1800KCal in a day, all the saturated fats you are to consume daily should be less than 10% of this 1800KCal. Anything above that is excessive consumption.

“It’s very important to consult with a Registered Dietitian to help provide personalized recommendations for this.”

When asked about the benefits of palm oil, Ebele said it contains beta carotene, which can be turned into Vitamin A, and which supports good vision.

According to her, palm oil can also improve brain function and promote good heart health when consumed in moderation as it contains 50 per cent cardio-protective fat.

She added, “There is no scientific evidence about the harmful effects of palm oil on the health of children.

“One of the healthiest ways to consume palm oil is using it in small amounts as cooking oil.

“Healthy alternatives include olive oil, avocado oil, and peanut oil. All oil should be consumed in moderation though.”

According to a health website, Mayo Clinic, a diet high in saturated fats has been linked with elevated cholesterol levels and increased risk for heart disease.

It added that saturated fats are linked to an increased risk of heart disease and chronic health conditions.

Similarly, a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in 2018, looked at data from more than 4,800 people who had been diagnosed with coronary heart disease.

The researchers discovered that those who consumed the most palm oil had a higher risk of dying from all causes, including cardiovascular disease.

The study also found that people who consumed the most palm oil had higher levels of inflammatory markers in their blood, which can contribute to cardiovascular disease.

The researchers also observed that people who consumed the most palm oil had a 26 per cent higher risk of death from all causes, compared to those who consumed the least palm oil.

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