Palm oil has been linked to several health benefits, including protecting brain function, protect heart and improving vitamin A status.
Palm oil is an excellent source of tocotrienols, a form of vitamin E with strong antioxidant properties that may support brain health.
Animal and human studies suggest that the tocotrienols in palm oil may help protect the delicate polyunsaturated fats in the brain, slow dementia progression, reduce the risk of stroke and prevent the growth of brain lesions (6Trusted Source , 7Trusted Source , 8Trusted Source , 9Trusted Source , 10Trusted Source ).
In a two-year study of 121 people with brain lesions, the group who took palm oil-derived tocotrienols twice a day remained stable, whereas the group who received a placebo experienced lesion growth (10Trusted Source ).
Palm oil has been credited with providing protection to heart.
Although some study results have been mixed, this oil generally appears to have beneficial effects on heart protection, including lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol and increasing “good” HDL cholesterol (11Trusted Source , 12Trusted Source , 13Trusted Source , 14Trusted Source , 15Trusted Source , 16Trusted Source , 17Trusted Source , 18Trusted Source ).
A large analysis of 51 studies found that total and LDL cholesterol levels were lower in people who followed palm oil-rich diets than those who consumed diets high in trans fats or myristic and lauric acid (11Trusted Source ).
A recent three-month study looked at the cholesterol-lowering effects of palm oil made from a hybrid of and trees.
In this study, people consumed either 25 ml (2 tablespoons) of olive oil or a hybrid palm oil daily. Based on a 15% drop in LDL cholesterol in both groups, researchers suggested this palm oil could be called “the tropical equivalent of olive oil” (12Trusted Source ).
In this 18-month study, seven of 25 people treated with the oil showed improvements and 16 remained stable. By contrast, 10 of 25 people in the placebo group experienced disease progression, and none showed improvement (18Trusted Source ).
Improved Vitamin A Status
Palm oil can help improve vitamin A status in people who are deficient or at risk of deficiency.
Studies in pregnant women in developing countries have shown that consuming red palm oil increases vitamin A levels in their blood, as well as in their breastfed infants (19Trusted Source , 20Trusted Source , 21Trusted Source ).
One study found that people with cystic fibrosis, who have difficulty absorbing fat-soluble vitamins, experienced an increase in blood levels of vitamin A after taking two to three tablespoons of red palm oil daily for eight weeks (22Trusted Source ).
In fact, a study from India reported that preschool-aged children who took 5 ml (1 teaspoon) per day had greater increases in vitamin A levels than children who received vitamin A supplements (24Trusted Source ).
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