Cholesterol in palm oil
With a history that dates back around 5 thousand years, palm oil has found its way into being part of many food products. In many cultures, it is consumed as vegetable cooking oil. Although many food manufacturers prize it for its qualities, palm oil's reputation as cholesterol-increasing oil is putting a black shadow its popularity.
Palm oil belongs to the same botanical family as coconut and date palms. Researches show that it produces a fruit which yields two distinct oils: palm oil from the fruit and palm kernel oil from the seed or pit. Since palm oil is a vegetable oil it does not contain cholesterol.
Researches however report that this edible oil has around 99.1% fats in it; it has a balanced mixture of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Palm olein, the liquid part of the oil, contains 44 percent and 10 percent of unsaturated oleic acid and linoleic acid, as reports claim. The remaining fat content is consisted of 40 and 5 percent of saturated palmitic and stearic acids.
Since fats and cholesterol cannot dissolve in liquids, our body packages them into molecules which are termed lipoproteins. The main lipoproteins consist of the following:
- Low-density lipoproteins, or LDL
- High-density lipoproteins, or HDL
HDL has protective effects since it can scavenge and carry cholesterol away from the blood vessels for degradation through the liver. LDL, unlike HDL, can carry cholesterol to your blood vessels and organs. It is known as bad cholesterol and it can contribute to plaque deposition in blood vessels and is linked with a risk of heart diseases. LDL accounts for most of the blood cholesterol levels.
Saturated fats contain carbon atoms. These are saturated with hydrogen atoms and you may recognize them as the “bad fats” that remain solid at room temperature. Studies show that saturated fats raise the blood cholesterol by raising the LDL. However, since palm oil also contains unsaturated fats, it maymitigate the overall effects.
LDL contains about 80 percent fat. Out of this, 50 percent is made of cholesterol. Comparatively, HDL consists of 55 percent fats, of which 25 percent is cholesterol. Most blood cholesterol occurs in a form which is attached to fatty acids. Your body can incorporate the saturated fatty acids you ingest into cholesterol esters. These form parts of the LDL particles. The cholesterol esters in HDL are different since they contain unsaturated fatty acids. One can conclude by saying that high levels of saturated fats, or low levels of unsaturated fats, both have the ability to elevate blood cholesterol.
I would like to conclude by saying that even though our body can produce some fats, a complete fat free diet is highly unrealistic. The type of fats one consumes is more important than their amount.