Another day - another infographic designed to instil fear and accelerate food shaming into the mind of the public.
The image above of what is in a jar of nutella has gone viral, but how much truth is there to the accompanying comments, that palm oil is bad for our health?
It frustrating but it seems many think to be a fitness or health expert these days, all you need to do is point the finger at the foods that taste good, that have sugar in them, and that's it.
Well, the data is of course another story.
Is Nutella and Palm Oil Really Unhealthy?
But the latest apparent issue is palm oil, that many "experts" are claiming is carcinogenic, unhealthy, and should never be consumed.
Does Palm Oil Cause Cancer And/Or Heart Disease?
But when we examine the data, it's not so bad.
A very recent review (1) found:
"As regards to a role in cancer, specific studies on dietary palmitic acid or palm oil and the risk of cancer development are scanty, and the evidence is not convincing."
Others are skeptical about its saturated fat content, claiming it can lead to heart disease. They're behind the times - saturated fat isn't as bad for the heart as was once thought (2-9).
And more specifically re palm oil, a saturated fat, a large review from 2015 found:
"Therefore, in conclusion it is the opinion of the authors that palm oil consumed as a dietary fat as part of a healthy balanced diet does not have incremental risk for cardiovascular disease. Little or no additional benefit will be obtained by replacing it with other oils rich in mono or polyunsaturated fatty acids" (10).
Essentially, Palmitic acid, the main saturated fat in palm oil has a similar effect on lipid profile as the monounsaturated fat oleic acid that is currently recommended.
Moreover, palm oil also boasts oleic and linoleic acids, and vitamin E tocotrienols that are powerful antioxidants and can inhibit cholesterol synthesis (10,11).
It's all about M-O-D-E-R-A-T-I-O-N.
Don't listen to the fear mongers who don't do their research.
Avoiding the foods we love altogether like Nutella can cause poor relationships with food, and eating disorders.
BALANCE is the key to success!
"Stay Fit, Stay Flexed!"
(1) Fattore E, Fanelli R. Palm oil and palmitic acid: a review on cardiovascular effects and carcinogenicity. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2013 Aug;64(5):648-59. doi: 10.3109/09637486.2013.768213. Epub 2013 Feb 14.
(2) Chowdhury R et al. Association of dietary, circulating, and supplement fatty acids with coronary risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med. 2014 Mar 18;160(6):398-406. doi: 10.7326/M13-1788.
(3) Saturated fat and cardiovascular disease: the discrepncy between the scientific literature and dietary advice. Hoenselaar, R. Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, High School of Arnhem and Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Nutrition. 2012 Feb;28(2):118-23.
(4) The questionable role of saturated and polunsaturated fatty acids in cardiovascular disease. The Ravnskov U. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 1998 Jun;51(6):443-60.
(5) Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids and composistion of human aortic plaques. Felton CV, Crook D, et al. The Lancet, 1994 Oct 29;344(8931):1195-6.
(6) Saturated fat prevents coronary artery disease? An American paradox. Knopp RH, Retzlaff BM. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2004 Nov;80(5):1102-3.
(7) Dietary fats and health: dietary recommendations in the context of scientific evidence. Lawrence GD. Advances in Nutrition, 2013 May 1;4(3):294-302.
(8) Dietary saturated fat intake, is there really an association with coronary heart disease? Rehman MS, Student RI. Journal of Pakistan Medical Association, 2012 Apr;62(4):411.
(9) Saturated fat, carbohydrates and cardiovascular disease. Kuipers RS, de Graaf DJ, et al. The Netherlands Journal of Medicine, 2011 Sep;69(9):372-8.
(10) Odia OJ1, Ofori S1, Maduka O1. Palm oil and the heart: A review. World J Cardiol. 2015 Mar 26;7(3):144-9. doi: 10.4330/wjc.v7.i3.144.
(11) Chong YH, Ng TK. Effects of palm oil on cardiovascular risk. Med J Malaysia. 1991;46:41–50.