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Palm Oil Action Australia | May 21, 2022

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Palm Oil Human Health


Palm oil is high in saturated fat and low in polyunsaturated fat. Biomedical research indicates that the consumption of palm oil increases the risk of heart disease.

The Australian Government’s View

In a media release in February 2007 Christopher Pyne, Assistant Minister for Health and Ageing said;

“While looking at the transfats issue we have no wish to undo much of this good work, for example, by manufacturers and retailers returning to use saturated fats such as palm oil, tallow or lard.

“Already I have seen reports in the media where a food outlet states it is telling consumers that they had gone ‘transfat free’ when, in fact, it is using palm oil, which is high in saturated fat…While we are consuming levels of transfats well below the WHO recommendation, we are eating above the WHO recommended levels of saturated fats.

“We urgently need to reduce our saturated fats intake, too, and remember that total fats and saturated fats are already listed on food labels in the nutrition information panel”.

Click here to read the full transcript


The National Heart Foundation of Australia’s View

The Heart Foundation does not recommend using palm oil as it made up of over 50% saturated fat. A position statement from the Heart Foundation’s National Nutrition and Metabolism Advisory Committee says;

“The following recommendations are primarily based on the relationship between dietary fat intake and well-established clinical endpoints for cardiovascular disease (CVD). These include coronary heart disease (CHD) events [non-fatal myocardial infarction (MI)], death from CHD and stroke. These recommendations are based on evidence and current Australian dietary intakes.”

Recommendations – Saturated fatty acids

There is good evidence that:

  • an increase in the consumption of saturated fatty acids is associated with an increase in risk of CHD
  • replacing a proportion of saturated fatty acids with n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids to achieve a ratio of polyunsaturated to saturated fatty acids of greater than one will reduce the risk of CHD
  • compared to carbohydrate, polyunsaturated and mono-unsaturated fatty acids, an increase in the consumption of saturated fatty acids results in an increase in the concentration of total and low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C)
  • replacing saturated fatty acids with carbohydrate, polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fatty acids lowers total cholesterol and LDL-C, with a slightly greater effect with polyunsaturated fatty acids.

It is recomended that saturated fatty acids and trans fatty acids together contribute no more than 8% of total energy intake.

To learn more about the health impacts of palm oil click here