Is palm oil hazardous to my health?
Answer from Dr Jean Michel Lecerf, Head of the Nutrition Service of the Institut Pasteur Lille
« I don’t know what is meant by something being good or bad for your health, because, in principle, what we eat is good for our health.Because, first of all, eating is good for us. This is a fat and we need fat in our diet. What’s not good is when we eat too much or too little of a food or when food mixtures cause imbalances, and those are more or less the same thing. What we do know is that it does not cause cancer, that is absolutely certainand it’s ridiculous to think it does; in fact, there is no food that causes cancer, that’s a very strange idea.
When I hear that it’s very bad for my cholesterol to eat palm oil, I want to say that that’s true if you eat only palm oil, but, first of all, we never eat only palm oil and, second, cholesterol depends on many parameters. So, of course it contains saturated fat, but all oils contain saturated fats. It has a place in our diet because it doesn’t contain only saturated fats, so ultimately it doesn’t increase cholesterol that much, or at least if we consume it in moderation, the impact will either be non-existent or extremely low, or even better than with other fats, so let’s not dramatize this – palm oil is not an oil that clogs arteries. What clogs arteries is much more complex. It’s just that this oil must be put in its proper place in the diet. Do we eat too much palm oil? I don’t know if we eat too much, but we don’t eat much of it, in any case. Today, we eat no more than three to ten grams of palm oil daily. So let’s say, for example, five: five grams, that’s two and a half grams of saturated fatty acids out of a total of thirty. So we’ll say that makes almost ten percent, to be a bit pessimistic; that’s not enormous. Is there one perfect oil? No. You need to mix things, in our diets, there needs to be a bit of everything. So, generally, speaking, when you have a varied diet, you’re really doing very well – nutrition is not all that complicated. »