Palm oil research reveals its many health benefits


Overview

Published: 06/14/2015

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Malaysia is one of the largest producers of palm oil in the world, so it’s no wonder that earnings from this commodity is substantial.

What do you know about palm oil? There is a lot to understand about palm oil. It’s nature’s richest source of vitamin E tocotrienols, and also contains carotenoids and phytosterols. Many studies have been carried out on the health effects of palm oil, and ongoing research continues to unearth various health effects.

Here is a summary of some the studies that have been carried out.

Tocotrienols and the liver

Many prescription medications, including the pain reliever and fever reducer acetaminophen, can be hard on your liver. Research shows that more than half of all cases of acute liver failure in the US points towards drug-induced liver injury (DILI).

But a new study shares good news: vitamin E tocotrienols may help in protecting the liver and also support the regeneration of the remaining liver cells.

While alpha-tocotrienol is found to be the most potent vitamin E in terms of protecting the liver from DILI, researchers cited the importance of both tocopherols and tocotrienols and their individual protective roles in supporting different health conditions.

Helping diseased livers recover

There is currently no drug that can effectively cure or treat Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), but new research shows that tocotrienols can help put this problem to rest.

Even if you drink little to no alcohol, you could still be at risk of developing liver damage resulting from NAFLD, which is now the most common cause of abnormal liver function among US adults.

NAFLD results from the accumulation of excess fats in the liver and is often linked to those with obesity, insulin resistance and high cholesterol.

A clinical study by Universiti Sains Malaysia put supplemented NAFLD patients with tocotrienols, and after a year, half of the group was said to have been completely cured from the fatty liver disease.

Improving diabetes symptoms

A new study by Brandeis University in the US revealed the promise of palm polyphenols, found in palm fruit juice, for delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes and even reversing the disease altogether.

Apart from slowing the rate of blood sugar absorption, palm polyphenols also may have an effect on insulin in the body by reducing its resistance and enhancing its secretion.

Malaysia just kick-started a clinical study on palm polyphenols supplementation to chart its effectiveness on pre-diabetics.

Fighting fat cell reproduction

Newly-singled out are the benefits of gamma-tocotrienol from palm oil in inhibiting the body’s fat cell production and improving insulin sensitivity.

Linked with metabolic syndrome, heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, obesity is one of the most alarming and costly problems of this century.

The University of Florida in the US has their research based on tocomin, a full spectrum palm tocotrienol complex, which naturally contains high levels of gamma-tocotrienol.

The research showed that it may potentially be used as a natural supplement for the management of body weight, and in the long run, significantly counter obesity-associated metabolic complications.

Lowering bad cholesterol

It doesn’t have to be just olive oil or nothing – a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that palm olein offers the same effects in lowering cholesterol, but with the added vitamin E benefits from tocotrienols.

The study showed no negative repercussions stemming from alternating between palm olein and olive oil and vice versa.

Boosting UV protection

Cooking with palm oil has been linked to reduced cancer risks associated with UV damage.

Research by Dr Michiaki Murakoshi, the director of Life Science Research Laboratories, showed that red palm oil is rich in carotenoids, which has been shown to help in boosting the body’s natural defence against UV damage.

Said to have more alpha- and beta-carotenes than carrots and tomatoes, palm fruit carotenoids are chemoprotective – they enhance healthy tissues’ ability to protect itself from harmful toxins.

Protecting against stroke

Vitamin E tocotrienols derived from palm oil has been found to be good for the brain. A two-year human clinical study published in the American Heart Association journal, Stroke, revealed that tocotrienols help slow down the progression of white matter lesions, which has been linked to risks of stroke as well as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

The study showed that taking palm-derived tocotrienols daily may be an easy way to be proactive about your brain’s health, especially if you are at high risk for stroke. That said, it must be noted that most vitamin E supplements available may not have the alpha-tocotrienol complex needed to guard against the risk.

Improving recovery from stroke damage

Tocotrienols may have the ability to protect collateral blood vessels after a stroke.

A study by Dr Cameron Rink of Ohio State University in the US revealed that tocotrienols were beneficial in recovering from ischaemic strokes, which accounts for about 85% of strokes.

Ischaemic stroke occurs when an artery is blocked and the brain is rapidly deprived of oxygen. Rink said the brains of those supplemented with tocotrienols showed significant arteriogenesis, which is the remodelling of existing collateral blood vessels in the brain.

Hope for haemodialysis patients

A daily prescription of vitamin E supplements containing tocotrienols and tocopherols has been linked to better heart health for haemodialysis patients.

Those undergoing regular haemodialysis are at higher risk for atherosclerosis due to inflammation, high cholesterol levels and an impaired antioxidant system.

The newly-published clinical study by Wayne State University in the US showed that tocotrienols have the potential to improve a patient’s lipid profiles in as little as three months.

Improving vitamin A levels in pregnancy

Adequate amounts of vitamin A are crucial for the survival of pregnant women and their unborn children, especially during the last trimester.

A study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that palm fruit oil incorporated into the diets of pregnant women resulted in healthier mothers who were more likely to survive childbirth. It also helped in maintaining breast milk retinol concentrations as well as making children less prone to serious health complications.

Preventing osteoporosis

Apart from calcium, adding tocotrienols to your daily supplement intake may possibly help fight osteoporosis.

A study by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia suggested that the use of tocotrienols make for stronger bones and increased bone density. Tocotrienols have the ability to reduce bone loss while increasing bone formation.

Slowing cellular ageing

Tocotrienols may possibly delay the onset of wrinkles.

A research by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia linked tocotrienols to the prevention of telomere shortening induced by oxidative stress. Telomeres are segments of DNA that can be used as an index for cellular ageing – longer telomeres indicate younger and healthier cells.