Palm Oil Nutrition Week – Day 3

Dr. Shawn Talbott (Ph.D., CNS, LDN, FACSM, FACN, FAIS) has gone from triathlon struggler to gut-brain guru! With a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry, he's on a mission to boost everyday human performance through the power of natural solutions and the gut-brain axis.

This 3rd day of scientific presentations at Palm Oil Nutrition Week is really bringing all of the most recent information together related to fatty acid balance for health. For example, what types of fat – and how much – and in what ratios – are best for our health?
An amazing lineup of researchers has dissected this issue from every conceivable viewpoint – here is a list of the presenters:
Dr. Tilakavati Karupaiah – Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia – Palm Oil Influence on Lipemic Risk
Dr. Mahinda Abeywardena – CSIRO Australia – Evaluation of Heart Effects of Oils/Fats
Dr. Tom Clandinin – University of Alberta (Canada) – Lipid/Glucose Effects of Fatty Acids
Dr. Pramod Khosla – Wayne State University, USA – Health Effects of Palm Oil – The Role of Saturated Fatty Acids Revisited (Again)
Dr. Felicia Stoler – Author, Living Skinny in Fat Genes – The Healthy Way to Lose Weight and Feel Great – USA
Dr. Kalyana Sundram – Malaysian Palm Oil Council – Global Palm Oil Consumption Trends: Evidence for Nutritional Effects
Overall, from these presentations, it is pretty clear that there is a widespread misconception that because palm oil contains saturated fatty acids, it must be “bad” for the heart and other tissues. Palm fruit actually provides two very different types of oils. The first is from the fruit (the mesocarp) and the second is from the kernel (the seed). Palm kernel oil is similar to coconut oil in that both are high in lauric and myristic acids, while palm fruit oil is high in palmitic acid. These are all “saturated” fats, but they have very different metabolic fates in the body and thus have widely different health effects. 
Palm fruit oil is actually a 49/51% balanced blend of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids with 44% palmitic and 5% stearic acids (both saturated), 40% oleic acid (the primary monounsaturated fatty acid found in olive oil), 11% linoleic/alpha-linolenic acids (both polyunsaturated).
Like all other vegetable oils, palm fruit oil is cholesterol-free, but unlike other vegetable oils, palm fruit oil has been shown to improve cholesterol ratios in the blood (higher “good” HDL and lower “bad” LDL and “very bad” lipoprotein (a). 
Refined (yellow) palm fruit oil is also a rich source of neuro-protective, anti-cancer, and liver-protective tocotrienols, and unrefined (red) palm fruit oil is a rich sources of antioxidant carotenoids. When used in foods, or as a cooking oil, palm fruit oil can withstand high temperatures without oxidizing like other vegetable oils (soybean, corn, sunflower, and canola).
Overall, the latest scientific results are showing us that not all saturated fats are created equal. We certainly want to avoid trans-fats (hydrogenated oils) because they undoubtedly raise bad cholesterol, reduce good cholesterol, and have a generally detrimental effect on blood vessels, heart health and brain function. When choosing healthier oils to use in cooking, I like to recommend extra virgin olive olive (bright green) as a COLD oil (salad dressings, dipping oil, and low-temperature cooking such as pesto sauce) and recommend unrefined palm fruit oil (bright orange/red) as a HOT oil (stir-frying, grilling, searing, and other high-temperature cooking).
By using a balance of these healthy oils, we can enjoy great taste, flavor, and functionality while also delivering important health benefits for our hearts, brains, livers, and cancer-risk.
These last 3 days at Palm Oil Nutrition Week have been extremely enlightening in terms of hearing the new research and interacting with some of the top scientists in the world. The next 3 days will be devoted to exploring the Malaysian Jungle to look for new vigor-enhancing nutrients and learning about sustainable harvesting practices.
Please stay tuned for a report from the Malaysian Jungle in a few days!
Thanks for reading…
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·      Vigor Diet – The New Science of Feeling Your Best
  • The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance, and Reclaim Your Natural Energy
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About the Author

Exercise physiologist (MS, UMass Amherst) and Nutritional Biochemist (PhD, Rutgers) who studies how lifestyle influences our biochemistry, psychology and behavior - which kind of makes me a "Psycho-Nutritionist"?!?!

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