Are saturated fats harmful?

Palm oil put to the test: None of its specific components endangers our health

28-Mar-2022 - Indonesia

With many food manufacturers returning to palm oil due to the sudden shortage of sunflower oil, consumers and policy makers want to understand the impact of saturated fats in their daily diets. Palm oil was previously displaced because it contains some saturated fat. "No palm oil" or "low saturated fat" labeling is intended to convince consumers that the product is healthier without palm oil.

Orientierungslust /Pixabay

Answers to this question were provided by the roundtable organized by Competere Saturated Fats - Debunking the Myth, with the participation of Francesco Visioli, professor of human nutrition at the University of Padua, Dr. Kalyana Sundram, consultant to CPOPC - Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries with over 40 years of experience in the field of the properties of oils and fats, and the founder and president of Competere, Pietro Paganini.

The discussion highlighted the need to assess the complexity of the unsaturated fatty acid landscape, a very heterogeneous category that encompasses a wide range of metabolic effects. The speakers refuted the theory that the entire category of saturated fats is considered harmful to health because of its effects on LDL cholesterol concentrations, the most common cardiovascular risk factor.

"In Italy and Europe, the majority of saturated fat comes from dairy products, while the meat-rich diet in other countries makes it difficult to isolate the properties of these components from the whole diet. After decades of research, we can conclude that the consumption of saturated fats in a balanced diet does not have harmful effects on health and that further studies are needed to clarify the physio-pathological properties of this category," said Prof. Francesco Visioli.

This evidence is very important because the market for food raw materials is very tight, which has led many companies to return to palm oil. Scientific literature has shown that there are no specific components of palm oil that have negative effects on health and that it has a neutral effect on cholesterol metabolism. These findings were also confirmed by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità and the Centro di Ricerca Alimenti e Nutrizione (Food and Nutrition Research Center), which indicated that the contribution of palm oil to saturated fat intake is marginal and that, above all, it is conceptually incorrect to label certain foods without the full nutritional context.

"We should ensure an ethical approach to nutrition and look at what is best for the consumer. Let's dispel myths like that of the alleged harmfulness of cholesterol: its concentration in the blood depends minimally on diet, and it is important for our metabolic function. Now we have scientific evidence that the fats contained (in palm oil) are not bad per se from a nutritional perspective: We always have to talk about the quantity and quality of food," Dr. Kalyana Sundram said.

"The discussion on saturated fats leads us to debunk myths that can confuse consumers and lead to contradictions, as we are seeing these days in the context of the return to palm oil. Research has confirmed that there are no scientific elements that condemn palm oil: Any attempt to label it as good or bad could prevent us from providing consumers with serious, reliable and scientifically proven information for a sustainable diet," added Pietro Paganini.

Note: This article has been translated using a computer system without human intervention. LUMITOS offers these automatic translations to present a wider range of current news. Since this article has been translated with automatic translation, it is possible that it contains errors in vocabulary, syntax or grammar. The original article in German can be found here.

Other news from the department business & finance

Most read news

More news from our other portals

Meat from the laboratory