Palm Oil & Cholesterol

Oil palm fruits
Palm fruits at a farmer's market. (Image: slpu9945/iStock/Getty Images)

Palm oil is derived from the fleshy part of the palm fruit. It’s often confused with palm kernel oil, which comes from the seed of the palm. Their components are very different, however. Palm oil is full of harmful saturated fats that have a negative effect on your cholesterol, if you consume it regularly.

Saturated Fat in Your Diet

Half of the fat in palm oil, or nearly 7 grams per tablespoon, is saturated. This “bad fat” raises your low-density lipoprotein, the type of cholesterol that increases your risk of heart disease. The maximum amount of saturated fat you should have in a day is 22 grams for a 2,000-calorie diet, or 10 percent of your calories, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 states. One tablespoon of palm oil takes up one-third of your daily allowance.

Effects on Cholesterol

In a 2011 review in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” the author compared research of palm oil and its effects on LDL. The author concluded that the majority of studies support the notion that palm oil does increase LDL, over 6 percent in some cases. This is possibly due to saturated fat’s chemical structure in palm oil, which is slightly different from the saturated fat in meat and dairy.

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