Tuesday, 29 May 2012
Dr Jacques Van Rooyen and his team at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa has some good news for fried food fans out there: Red palm oil may have constituents that help in limiting damage during a heart attack.
Saturated fatty acids have been shown to raise plasma cholesterol levels while monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids do the opposite. Red palm oil is composed of 51% saturated fatty acids, 38% monounsaturated fatty acids , 11% polyunsaturated fatty acids and a range of antioxidants like carotenoids and tocotrienols which are major components.
The chief saturated fatty acid in red palm oil is palmitic acid, which has neutral or no effect on plasma cholestrol. This therefore negates the preconceived notion that red palm oil elevates blood cholestrol levels. 45% of red palm oil is oleic acid, which is attached to the trigylceride backbone, making it easier to absorb. Oleic acid is the fatty acid that gave olive oil its reputation as a healthy oil.
Red palm oil is also the only oil to contain significant amounts of tocotrienols, a potent form of vitamin E and an antioxidant. The oil also has a high carotenoid content which is 300 times higher than those found in equivalent amounts of tomatoes. Carotenoids are the precursor to Vitamin A. The high carotenoids, tocotrienols, tocopherols and oleic acid content in red palm oil make it a highly nutritious and antioxidant-rich balanced oil that can be used as a healthy functional food.
Reports that high vitamin E intake leads to lung cancer is only applicable to artificial extracted vitamin E. Since red palm oil is a natural balanced combination, the oil can still be safely consumed.
Tissue starved of oxygen for example, the heart, can be damaged on a cellular level. Reperfusion is the process by which tissue is reoxygenated. However, sometimes sudden introduction of oxygen into a starved tissue can damage it further. This damage during reperfusion can be checked with certain antioxidants.
Researchers in 1992 showed that red palm oil protected against reperfusion injury. Dr Jacques Van Rooyen and his team recently announced that they have pinpointed the exact mechanism by which red palm oil protects the heart. Scientists are now looking into red palm oil's effect on other aspects of the cells that may protect against damage. THE END.