Study discourages replacing trans fat with palm oil

by Jeff Gelski
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BOSTON — Results of a study from Tufts University in Boston suggest palm oil would not be a good substitute for trans fat in food products. The study involving 15 adults suggested consuming diets with high amounts of palm oil would result in unfavorable levels of L.D.L. (bad) cholesterol and apolipoprotein B (a protein attached to fat particles that carries bad cholesterol throughout the bloodstream).

Loders Croklaan, Channahon, Ill., and other palm oil proponents have acknowledged that palm oil may increase L.D.L. levels, but they also have pointed out some saturated fats, including palm oil, may raise H.D.L. (good) cholesterol levels and that heart health guidelines should focus more on the ratio of total cholesterol to H.D.L. rather than on just total cholesterol (see Food Business News of Oct. 14, 2008, Page 1).

A story on the Tufts University study appeared in the April issue of Agricultural Research magazine. Dr. Alice H. Lichtenstein, D.Sc., with the Jean Mayer U.S.D.A. Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, was the lead scientist. No significant effect on the total-to-HDL cholesterol ratio was observed for palm oil compared with other dietary fats.

The 15 adults in the study were age 50 or older and had moderately high levels of L.D.L. They consumed each of the four, 35-day experimental diets. The fats tested were palm oil, canola oil, soybean oil and partially hydrogenated soybean oil. The authors said the findings suggest consuming either of the diets enriched with equivalent high amounts of palm oil or partially hydrogenated soybean oil, when compared to the other two diets, would result in similar unfavorable levels of L.D.L. and apolipoprotein B.

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