Palm Oil: maybe not such a good idea after all

There are two things that you can be certain of when it comes to palm oil: 1) business is booming and 2) orangutans hate palm oil (if they could speak to us, I’m confident that’s what they would say). We can now add another certainty to that: palm oil causes low-grade inflammation that is linked to insulin resistance, obesity and other metabolic diseases that are partially mediated by our resident gut microbes.

Palm oil is touted as a panacea for everything ranging from a route out of poverty for small-scale farmers, a sustainable biofuel, and for its powerful nutritional virtues. However, palm oil plantations are linked to unsustainable deforestation throughout the world – that aside from the obvious biosphere issues – is reducing livable habitat for orangutans to the point that some are calling it genocide.

Source: FAO

Consumer demand – or maybe that should be manufacturer demand – for palm oil has resulted in palm oil in one of every two packaged products in the super market! You can find it in baked goods, cereals, crisps, sweets, margarine and popular soaps and cosmetics – to name a few.  Often listed under a dizzying number of names, like palmate and Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, it’s not always easy to spot.  Red palm oil has become very popular among the more affluent, both for its taste, cool red color, and superior antioxidant load. The Red palm oil is derived from the fleshy part of the fruit – hence its red color – while the clear stuff comes from the whitish kernel in the center. Or you can refine Red palm oil down to a clear version (but in the process, you lose some of the goodness).

I have discussed elsewhere (here and here) the potential impact of a high-fat diet and changes in your gut microbial ecosystem that can (does) lead to low-grade inflammation that furthers leads to insulin resistance, obesity and other issues. In short, high-fat intake shifts the gut microbiota and increases the translocation of lipopolysaccharides (LPS) or endotoxins from your gut into your blood, which then triggers inflammation – and then the cascade of problems start.

palm oil fruitThese “high-fat-increases-endotoxin-load-in-serum” studies used varying amounts and types of fat – with no particular emphasis on the type of fat being used. These researchers also, due to the nature of the research and the questions being asked, used what some might consider unrealistic levels of fat in the mouse or human diet being tested. Levels you would not see in a free-living human population. This research reality is simply a function of the researchers exploring cause and effect and in order to do so, need to “dial it up” a bit to get any meaningful shifts in the data. In either case, the outcomes are still informative.

Researchers in France decided to address both of these issues in a recent study among mice fed proportional and realistic levels of fat and tested oils with differing fatty acid composition (albeit in mice). The fats/oils tested included milk fat, palm oil, rapeseed (canola) oil, or sunflower oil.

Regardless of which fat the mice received, fat content as a percentage of diet was maintained at 22.4% (or, 38% of the energy of the diet). Mice were randomly divided into five groups (8 mice per group), and fed one of the five diets (one was a control – i.e., normal mice chow not spiked with fat). Fast forwarding a bit, the researchers found that depending on which oil the mice received, it could change the levels of endotoxins in serum (impaired gut) and increase markers of inflammation (not so good).

orangutanTurns out, that compared to a high-fat diet formulated with either milk fat, rapeseed oil, or sunflower oil, one that includes palm oil resulted in higher inflammation in “plasma and adipose tissue” as measured by a number of markers. Interestingly, rapeseed oil resulted in much lower inflammation. (Would encourage folks that are interested in the subject to read the detailed study themselves, and related).

In this study, researchers used refined non-hydrogenated palm oil, not oil from the kernel. That is, Red palm oil without the red. If you are concerned about low-grade inflammation, then you might want to think twice about forking out the extra money for the fancy palm oil and might want to check the ingredient labels a little closer as well. Or maybe it doesn’t matter at all. Maybe the differences between the inflammation triggered by one fatty acid over the other is insignificant. Maybe they should have used more mice, or heated the oil. Maybe mouse studies don’t matter. More studies are needed.

In either case, thinking twice about Palm oil might please the orangutans.

161 Comments Add yours

  1. Ed says:

    Ahh, experiements with mice are always representative of humans. Their lab diet is too. It’s primarily sucrose (e.g. crap in a bag). Attributing any deleterious change to the fat is a stretch when so much sucrose is consumed.

    Funny thing about rapeseed oil is that stroke-prone, spontaneously hypertensive rats are fed a variety of deadly fats, the rats fed Canola oil die soonest and the rats fed coconut oil live the longest.

    1. Jeff Leach says:

      Note the mice in the study were not fed sucrose.

      1. Nevertheless, it’s not a LCHF diet: they ate plenty of carbohydrates. 38g of HC (35g starch, at that!), 22g of fat, 12g of protein.

        Eating lots of fat without reducing HC is of course going to be a catastrophy in any model, animal or human.

        Also, there is the fact that the Palm Oil, although not hydrogenated, was processed.

        I couldn’t care less of these looney studies that are unable to properly isolate variables.

        On the other hand, I do share the environmental concerns and recommend against palm oil because of this.

    2. singaporeboomer says:

      All arguments on whether or not palm oil is good for you or not are irrelevant when we know that they are VERY unhealthy for the planet . The slash and burn policy associated with the farming of palm oil is destroying large areas of the planet and killing people with the resulting haze not only in places like Indonesia where the slash and burn policy is rampant, but in all the counties nearby.

      And the genocide of a primate that is a close cousin of ours is an unforgivable result.

      1. Tivne says:

        Sweetie, EVERYTHING that is presented for mass consumption is sinful. I could go on and on about factory orchards and honey bees. So buy land, grow your own food and raise your own livestock. This is the ONLY way to avoid complications of our consumeristic society. It is written : The meek shall inherit the Earth.

        1. Diane Evans says:

          Tivne, very good point! And we should all take your advice seriously. I’m starting a garden this summer!
          but I can also say that if we are destroying more habitat for animals such as the Orangutans then it is a problem. We aren’t harming animals in our orchards, then again the honey bee problem is real also. Grow your own food people!!

          1. kwanele says:

            Thank you.Well said

          2. t.k says:

            Diane can my family move with you , since I don’t have no land to grow anything

        2. morecivilsociety says:

          But will the meek want it? May be worthless.

        3. sharon says:

          And how would you suggest that everyone can do this? It’s impossible for everyone on earth to have land and grow food. We must have food production to feed the world,. The key is to have sustainable food production.

        4. John Brown says:

          Your painfully correct in that as soon as food became a commodity in industrialized society environmental degradation would naturally follow. Thank you for waking me from my complacency.

      2. sharon crayne says:

        NUTIVA harvests from sustainable forests…
        — please do not circulate erroneous information “as if it applied to all red palm kernel oil sold” to promote you own agenda.

      3. Rod says:

        Singaporeboomer you may not think your health is relevant but I believe mine is. This stuff is showing up in many different foods. If it is unhealthy to consume it is important to know so you can read labels, identify it, and avoid it. Yes, the planet is important but so is my health.

        1. neighbor lee says:

          I agree totally. I’ll add ,that as a vegan, I am perfectly well situated to make sure our morals meet our objectives. TOo often people grow complacent in those objectives ,for various reasons.

          Progress means nothing if it doesn’t carry empathy , and that’s what being vegan means; doing the least harm/no harm.

      4. Johnny says:

        I believe red palm oil is grown and harvested sustainably now in Africa. Look for African grown oil if you use it.

        1. norma says:

          Thats what I have. Alaffia, West African Fair Trade, natural, hand pressed, ORANGUTAN SAFE red palm oil. http://www.alaffia.

      5. Paula says:

        I’m in agreement with you about the deforestation. It’s disgusting, But don’t include others, if you consider yourself an a close cousin of an Orangutan! Maybe you are.

      6. roxanne says:

        When and how is this knowledge to be made known to the majority of population not paying attention.
        When will we all change our ways for the sake of the earth?

    3. Gary Sellars says:

      Thanks, Ed.

    4. Jimma says:

      They also used refined palm oil. I have never seen an article or research paper touting refined anything as a good way to go.

      1. Marie says:

        The best reply I have read so is yours Jimma. Cannot add anything to it:). Like you said, the study was using refined palm oil; refined=oxidized and is a cause of inflammation. The key is unrefined unprocessed… Who cares what orangutans eat…. They eat thing I don’t want in my house, less in my mouth.

    5. Michelle Coulter says:

      Singaporeboomer, you will be glad that there are no natural forest fires in the tropical forests such as those experienced in USA, Australia, and other temperate forests during dry months. The burning is only on selected area. However I agree that Singapore suffers together with neighbouring countries since it is surrounded by Indonesia and Malaysia.

      There are a lot of benefits brought by Palm Oil industry however it is normal for the negative aspects to be discussed. However lets not go into the details of the economical, social, and other benefits here.

      Palm oil is actually healthy, has been used for the past 100 years around south east asia. It is very stable under high heat too, eg. frying, which is a predominant diet in southeast asia. (canola or corn are unsuitable for frying or high heat cooking)

      The battle between unsaturated, saturated, mono, poly, trans is meaningless. The fact is our body need all kinds of fat, and anything taken in moderation is good.

      People still die of heart related disease without consuming palm oil right?

      1. Mark W says:

        The burning is only in a selected area, you say? Indonesia is on fire. People are being evacuated because they are dying of asthma. Thousands of orangutans are dead. They get asthma too. These fires are being set without conscience or regard to consequences, at night in stealth. The smoke is choking ships far out at sea.
        “Indonesia’s fires are much worse than California’s, however. Not only are they deliberately set, but many of them occur in carbon-rich peat forests. These forests—which would normally be wet and hard to burn at this time of year—grow out of several meters’ worth of damp, rich organic matter instead of soil. Even if things look fine, there are actually fires burning 20 feet below the ground,”

        1. Jewel says:

          The point is well taken. Then let’s find a more sustainable way to harvest palm oil. It seems that the issue is not the palm oil it is the irresponsibility of human kind during the harvesting process.

          1. Richard Crowe says:

            I think Palm Oil is clearly bad for me. I have tested it on my digestion over a period of a year and am certain it is a major culprit. Miss it out of my diet and I do not suffer the symptoms I have described. I do not believe I am likely to be alone in this.

            I posted to see if others might be experiencing problems with this totally unnecessary ingredient that is added to so many foods for reasons of cheapness.
            Bad for the gut and the environment.

      2. Jeremy says:

        Camellia seed oil is best for cooking , ingesting & for cosmetic purposes. Has been used in Asia for thousands of years.
        Forget about Palm oil it’s extremely overated.

        1. Richard Crowe: I suffered severely after i consumed palm oil for one year. Whenever I eat palm oil products, I suffer. May be allergic to it? I feel we could study more humans and find out how many suffer and what kind of problems than study mice etc. We have been eating all these oils.

          1. Martin j says:

            Me too. Palm oil has a delayed gastro debilitating pain and heaviness – usually during the night. I generally have excellent health,but – to use a Scottish idiom – it takes the biscuit !

        2. Kc Chia says:

          what is the cost and consequence of replacing palm oil with camellia seed oil or, maybe, any other oil?

          1. Mark Alman says:

            The Omega -6 to Omega -3 profile of Camellia Seed oil is 30:1. Since the oil is 25% PUFA there’s nothing healthy about this generous dose of Omega -6. The downside outweighs the good stuff in this story.

      3. Jerry Costner says:

        Moderate will be hard to measure when our food products is inundated with palm oil, it’s in most of the confectionery, tinned stuff and chips of most kind. Hiding under several names palm oil is the real public enemy. It’s so notorious that scientists are paid by palm oil producers to do research and skew the result to their favor. It’s and old tune, but it gets finer with time.

      4. Faiza says:

        Very well said.

  2. But how can you extrapolate to _all_ fat (i.e. a “high-fat diet” leads “to low-grade inflammation that furthers leads to insulin resistance, obesity and other issues), when the mice were fed predominantly vegetable and also refined and processed fats? These are different from natural fat that would be consumed as part of a healthy human diet. Some of the healthiest high-fat traditional diets were based on fatty (pastured) animal foods, nothing like refined sunflower oil–something our ancestors probably never consumed in large quantities!

    1. Jeff Leach says:

      thanks for the comment. i’m not extrapolating – just referencing the published research. agree on the veg oils – novel to human biology – no matter what the source.

      1. Gary Sellars says:

        “…just referencing the published research.” Wouldn’t that be more accurately stated, “…just referencing some of the published research,” since there is research that speaks strongly of the benefits of a high fat/low carb diet and the completely wrong direction and instruction of a “low fat diet” that, though it’s been touted for years, has not ameliorated the dire health realities of the American public but rather worsened them?

        When they said, “salt is bad for you,” I knew they were lying and when they said “eggs are bad for you” I knew they were completely screwy.

        Is it not more than evident that the “healthcare” industry doesn’t want the American public healthy because they love money more than people and they think the planet is overpopulated anyway?

        Since it’s now almost 25 since Linus Pauling announced the end of heart disease with the simple application of his “Pauling Therapy” (which the medical industry is *still pretending* is illegitimate) and when they medical industry, with the collusion of the FDA, continues to ignore, deny and even fight, persecute and prosecute the many cures for cancer, isn’t it a self-delusion to pretend that “healthcare” is not one of the biggest government sanctioned frauds in the nation?

        Is it not patently obvious our government IS NOT on our side?

        1. Faiza says:

          What? Salt is not bad??!!

      2. Sinjin Macleod says:

        I think an important delineation is missing here: to whit, cold-pressed olive oil (i.e. not manufactured, simply squeezed oil out of the fruit) has long been a known healthy fat. Only big business convinced us it was because of unsaturated fats or some such. Now cold-pressed coconut oil is discovered to be very healthy, while its manufactured or hydrogenated coconut oils are just as inflammatory as ALL other manufactured cooking oils. Here is Palm Kernel Oil, cold-pressed, and just as ANTI-inflammatory as all cold-pressed oils to date. Maybe nature is the solution here, not highly manufactured processed chemical concoctions that are subsequently labeled any kind of cooking oil.

  3. Dan says:

    Jeff, why do you keep writing these articles that make it sound like high fat is bad? I read the comments in the first article you linked to and you mentioned many times that you wanted to focus on the lack of fiber rather than the fat…but it seems like this article contracts those comments.

    Not to mention that any study done on mice fed unhealthy diets (and very likely not organic) that they would never eat in the wild doesn’t provide valuable information to humans! Are you really suggesting humans not eat palm oil because of this completely unrelated study?

    1. Jeff Leach says:

      Thanks for the comments. Good ones I might add. I don’t have a horse in this race. Just writing about the published work – which is all over the place as you know. And I don’t cherry pick what I write about – other than focusing on studies that deal with microbes. But, again, as you know, more to the story than just microbes. But an emerging theme is that elevated fat in the diet (whatever the source), increases the likelihood that endotoxins will make their way into serum which can contribute to an inflammatory state. But importantly, this is “exactly” what is supposed to happen. The inflammation more than likely is a an evolutionary-conserved strategy to trigger insulin resistance to conserve glucose. Gotta remember, when our ancestors consumed meat and thus fat (from organs etc) carbs and thus glucose in the diet dropped. Either for hours, days, or months. In order to conserve glucose – which is a primary fuel for brain and reproduction – insulin resistance brought on via low-grade inflammation is a survival strategy that was positively selected. However, today, we have a steady supply of fat – on a daily basis. This “constant” daily availability is out of sink with our evolutionary reality. Meat and fat were important, but were not necessarily a daily or even weekly input. keep the questions coming. I think just chatting about it is important. I’m not an expert on the subject, nor is anyone else.

      1. Rebecca says:

        What I find most interesting is that the palm oil was refined, which removed the potent antioxidants (primarily vitamin E and beta carotenes) Who knows how the results would have differed had the whole oil been used. Additionally (and others have pointed this out), mice are not humans. They do not eat fatty diets in the wild. How those results can be extrapolated as meaningful to humans is beyond me. But a randomized, controlled feeding trial of humans is expensive and difficult to execute so in the mean time we are stuck with this nonsense.

        1. Rebecca says:

          Oops I meant carotenoids not beta carotenes.

        2. Jeff Leach says:

          Thanks for the comments. Though I don’t know for sure, I don’t think the refining had an impact on the fatty acid composition – which was the issue. And yes, mice are not humans. But do not dismiss it because of that. The mechanisms that are being assessed are the same. As for being nonsense, ppl can take away from the published research what they like – its there for anyone to read.

          1. Adrianne says:

            Well, there is something to be said for mice not being humans. Look at the sepsis model ( for an example of how they fail to predict human processes. A pig model would be more convincing in my opinion as they are frequently used for human-like nutrition studies.

          2. Johnny says:

            “refining” almost always changes things.

      2. Marisa says:

        Great reply, Jeff. I really liked this response and it was thought provoking. I think there is something to be said for how constant any diet is and how that compares to evolutionary principles. But the next question is how to get around it or whether it is advantageous to deliberately created abundances and shortages of certain macronutrients, vitamins and mindrals and shake things up from time to time? I don’t really have a strong opinion on it either, but it is interesting to ponder.

        1. Jeff Leach says:

          That’s a great question. Don’t know. And yes, interesting to ponder. Better to absorb this kind of info rather than filter. Thanks for great comments.

      3. acm says:

        You may not cherry-pick, but that in itself is a form of selection — for example, just about any study funded or promoted by the sugar industry should be discounted. They’ve been trying to blame insulin problems on fats for ages, when even small doses of sugars can cause all the measures of heart risk (from triglycerides to HDL/LDL ratio) to shoot into the red, and they’re trying to obscure that. Another few decades and our misunderstanding of healthy fats versus sugars and starches will look like the disinformation cloud surrounding smoking in the 1950s…

      4. Mike LaVoie says:

        Jeff that is a brilliant theme! I always tend to think that the body reacts as it has “evolved” to react, and if we keep aware of that fact we may get answers to many many questions about our bodies and metabolism.

      5. Sinjin Macleod says:

        There is one true expert: Nature.
        When in doubt, trust nature and not everything else. Our ingested fat ratios in USA used to be about 1:1 or 3:1 of Omega 6 : Omega 3 fats. Now with modern mass manufacturing of all these oils, they destroy these natural ratios and results in 15:1 and 40:1 ratios. Cold-pressed oils (olive, coconut, palm kernel) are very anti-inflammatory, but if subjected to mass manufacturing techniques, they become just as inflammatory as all other oils.

  4. Jeff wrote:

    “However, today, we have a steady supply of fat – on a daily basis. This ‘constant’ daily availability is out of sink with our evolutionary reality. Meat and fat were important, but were not necessarily a daily or even weekly input.”

    But I don’t think that is true, at least not across the board. Certainly some traditional eaters had access to meat/animal foods on a daily basis, and had enviable good health.

    It’s just too bad that so many studies lump “fats” all together, rather than differentiating between them. That’s like saying: eating carbs from kale is the same as a twinkie is same as a potato, which we generally agree is not true–or at the very least, that such reductionist “science” doesn’t provide much useful information. If anyone is going to _become_ an expert on human/microbe metabolism etc., it seems useful to cherry pick the most scientific science to reference…

    Just saying. 🙂

    1. Jeff Leach says:

      Good points. However, dietary fat and animal protein throughout human evolution was sporadic and seasonal. I’m talking about seal hunters in the northern latitudes, I’m talking about those parts of the world where humans and our immediate predecessors spent much of their time developing. It’s important to note that access does equal intake. For example, the Hadza in Tanzania today will focus on honey during the peak of the rainy season – which is also the time of year when game is the most dispersed and harder to acquire. Honey doesn’t run very fast. So, during this period honey dominates the diet and meat (and ipso facto fat from organs etc) drops off significantly. It’s simply not a priority. However, during the dry season when game aggregates around ever shrinking water holes, ambush hunting goes up and thus animal fat and protein go up as well. Fatty nuts are seasonal as well. Just saying 🙂

      1. Gary Sellars says:

        Jeff, I’d encourage you to look into the claims of Dr. Joel Wallach, and some of the people who agree with him. He’s the doctor who put out the audio tape over two decades ago, “Dead Doctor’s Don’t Lie.” That audio and some related ones can be found and heard on YouTube.

        Interestingly, Dr. Wallach boldly claims that he can eliminate Type 2 diabetes in two months. Another thing that is interesting about him, aside from his interest in nutrition that arose from his childhood observance of feeding supplemental vitamins and mineral to animals to keep them from getting diseases, is his not going to a doctor (as a patient) for over 60 years.

        My point there is that it’s easy to argue with a man’s opinions, but when his life experience supports his claims, it gives his words more weight than just “opinion.”

        The early death of doctors in America (life expectancy of under 60 years) should encourage the alert and astute to not be so quick to believe the doctors know whereof they speak in the area of healthcare.

        Incidentally, in 2013, according to the Washington Post, America was 26th in the world in life expectancy; not an unrelated issue to American doctors’ success in their accomplishment of their feigned goal.

        That’s not exactly commendable considering America’s past, but constantly diminishing, leadership role in the world.

        As a man told me decades ago, “you can prove anything with statistics.” I didn’t exactly appreciate the comment because I tend to be a stickler for accuracy, but I did understand what he meant and that less-than-perfect expression is a caricature of how the profit-based and driven media has deceived the people of this nation your entire life and isn’t about to slow down.

        Attempting to con the American public that their remedy for every malady is a patented drug with a TD50 is so ludicrous that I continually marvel this garbage is allowed to be promoted everyday, all day long, throughout every media outlet with protestations almost never heard from the same media.

        Poison disguised as remedy *for a buck* and it doesn’t matter who or how many it hurts or kills. Very conservatively, that’s tens of thousands every year in America and neither the government nor the media care.

        BTW, “dietary fat and animal protein throughout human evolution was sporadic and seasonal” is nothing better than a supposition and your integrity ought to make you state it as such rather than as a fact. Or do you have 4000 year-old research that has eluded the rest of us?

        People’s metabolisms are different. Some people can’t tolerate what others thrive on. When I swallow beef, my body instantly responds positively and likewise, I love dairy products, though I haven’t had the privilege of drinking non-homogenized milk nor non-pasteurized animal and plant products, which I strongly suspect my body would like even more.

        I’m sure you know of the government’s war on healthy food farms, though I wonder whether you’ve taken the time to examine the why of such wicked shenanigans.

        Please don’t be a parrot of the status quo which is serving monied interests. Consider examining why the government was a party to destroying small farmers to let large corporations control, not only the food supply, but to increasingly destroy the quality of both our farmlands and our foods.

        The only beneficiary of that is the medical and pharmaceutical industries. If the thought ever hits you to examine if there are many corporations which are stockholders in all three industries, I’d encourage you to run with that idea and follow it through, patiently, while you also examine the board members of those corporations. If you think you have the time, you might look even farther into the situations to see if the boards have been legally seated. If your investigations actually take you that far, I’d be interested in why you think it is that the governments have failed in their oversight of these men who carry such great fiduciary responsibilities.

        Remember GHWB’s “New World Order” he spoke of with such a big smile on his face?

        If you ever want to take a shortcut to see if something is amiss in such a broad way, listen to a dozen or so of the interviews with a former World Bank lawyer who was fired for exposing fraud. Her name is Karen Hudes.

        I trust you know how to prudently use keywords. It opens up a world of quick enlightenment and revelation.

  5. This looks like poor science to me. I’m not impressed with how impressed you are with this study. You note the objections pointed out (mice, eating crap food that’s not their natural diet, extrapolating this to humans) but don’t seem to take any of it in. If the fat choices are milk fat, rapeseed oil or sunflower oil, that doesn’t tell me a thing about my diet, which includes liberal use of pastured butter, pastured lard (rendered by me), extra-virgin olive oil (eaten raw, not cooked), coconut oil, among other things like ample vegetables, some fruits and nuts, and moderate meat and egg intake, no grains (which makes it fairly anti-inflammatory). Rapeseed oil? Is that meant to be canola oil, or is this normal high-erucic acid rapeseed? Sunflower oil, isn’t that high in Omega 6 fatty acids? It is no doubt processed under heat, light and pressure, which are all damaging. I haven’t eating palm oil in years, myself, because I don’t like the taste.

    This is just not believable according to everything I have read about dietary fats and healthy gut flora from a variety of reputable sources.

    As to sustainability, if that’s the issue, that alone is good reason to forgo palm oil, but I’m not convinced that all of it is farmed unsustainably.

    1. Eaten, haven’t eaten palm oil in years, gah!

    2. Jeff Leach says:

      Hi Jeanmarie. The published research is available for anyone to read and interpret. If you are interested in the subject, I would recommend doing a PubMed search for the terms, “endotoxins, LPS, endotoxemia”. The facts/studies – whether in mice or human studies – are simple: 1) increasing fat in diet increases endotoxin producing bacteria in the gut; 2) endotoxins translocate into serum via several mechanisms such lipoprotein particles like chylomicrons; 3) increased endotoxin load in serum is associated with low-grade inflammation and 4) this inflammation is exacerbated in subjects with existed and higher levels of adipose tissue. It’s also important to point out that increased endotoxin load in the gut does not mean you will have higher levels in serum. However, the composition of your gut microbiota does coorelate with serum loads of endotoxin. People can decide to like the research or not. It’s there for anyone to read.

      1. Hi Jeff,

        You wrote: “The facts/studies – whether in mice or human studies – are simple: 1) increasing fat in diet increases endotoxin producing bacteria in the gut; 2) endotoxins translocate into serum via several mechanisms such lipoprotein particles like chylomicrons; 3) increased endotoxin load in serum is associated with low-grade inflammation and 4) this inflammation is exacerbated in subjects with existed and higher levels of adipose tissue.”

        Here’s the thing: your point #1 (upon which your other points are based) _is_ an extrapolation from evidence that is inconclusive. That is: “increasing fat in diet” is NOT what the studies you reference were actually studying. They were looking at the effects of increasing certain TYPES of fat, but they did not, in general, study “fat” in its unrefined, unprocessed state, and they also didn’t acknowledge that they WERE studying a sub-group of (processed, refined, primarily vegetable-source) lipid types at all.

        So, I think it’s a bad idea to extrapolate in this case from studies that feed refined vegetable/dairy fats (or even studies that look at so-called “good” fats in addition to these in combination), and conclude that increased “fat” intake causes inflammation. That is so similar to the line we were fed for years, about how saturated fats (“including trans fats”) were terrible. Now it turns out that human-produced trans fats are probably worse than we ever thought, while saturated fats–possibly simply because they were studied _in combination_ with trans–may have been unfairly vilified.

        So what I’m really saying is: it seems tempting to read fascinating studies like the one you quoted, and come up with gripping headlines concerning what we should and shouldn’t eat. But I guess I’d encourage conservatism with the extrapolations, and ask for more focus on the questions. (I appreciate how folks like Gary Taubes are trying to understand how future studies can be conducted more effectively so that we don’t spend decades trying to make sense of study results based upon meaningless groupings of foods such as “those containing saturated and trans fats”.)

        By the way, I definitely agree with your point that seasonal availability must have played a key role in human food consumption/metabolism in the past. I’m thinking that I’ll go sit in front of our picture window and watch the snow fall while I eat some organic imported coconut. 🙂

        1. Jeff Leach says:

          Thanks for your comments. However, the role of fat and other substrates on microbial composition is not inconclusive as you state. There is a considerable amount of research on this. Patrice Cani did some of the initial work, which triggered a great many other studies. A simple PubMed search on the subject will provide plenty to read on the subject. For some reason, people assume I’m a vegetarian or some kind of anti-fat crusader. Which is bizarre as I pretty much follow a Paleo/Primal diet and consume – by many standards – a high fat diet. There is no need to be conservative as you indicate. It’s very simple: fat in diet is linked to endotoxin translocation from the gut into serum (dozens and dozens of published research indicates this). It’s not a theory nor is it debated among researchers. What debate there is, revolves around the various mechanisms at play. Either way, good points and thanks for the spirited exchange. This is how we both learn.

          1. Hi Jeff,

            You wrote:

            “…However, the role of fat and other substrates on microbial composition is not inconclusive as you state. There is a considerable amount of research on this. Patrice Cani did some of the initial work, which triggered a great many other studies. A simple PubMed search on the subject will provide plenty to read on the subject.”

            Okay, I think I get what you’re saying. (I still think it was a mistake for you to use this particular (with its flawed methodology) study to illustrate your point–but I already noted that in my previous comments.)

            So now the question is, as you ask: what benefit does this apparently increased-low-grade-inflammation-when-consuming-a-high-fat-diet confer to an eater? And, if part of the benefit in bygone times was, as you posit, increased sensitivity to glucose during periods when carbs were scarce…what does that mean for us?

            It’s interesting to ponder whether a primarily-high-fat diet would be actually more damaging if lots of carbs were ALSO consumed…and whether the low grade inflammation in that fatty diet would be pretty much beneficial UNTIL the carbs came on the scene.

            I wonder what this means those of us whose dietary pendulums have swung from low-fat-high-carb to high-fat-low-carb and then over to high-fat-high-carb…


          2. Jeff Leach says:

            Thanks. However, not sure how you think the palm oil study was flawed? But, you can agree to not like or think the study was flawed. Again, I have no horse in this race. Just think the mechanisms associated with the role of endotoxins and microbiota in low-grade inflammation is an interesting subject and worth following – as I do. Some see this as an attack on fat – which is beyond me. As type this as I chomp down slices of bacon this morning, topped with scrambled eggs and olive oil, with a fat-rich avocado on the side. As for your second point, I think the greatest misconception about paleo/primal diet as it pertains to fat, is the incorrect assumption that our genome (and metagenome) was selected on a daily consumption of fat that hovered between 30-70% of calories. In othe words, that it was somehow a constant. This ignores basic ecology and seasonality. And, it does zero good to drag into the conservation those more recent populations in northern latitudes. We need to stay focused on those mid latitudes and the organisms that inhabited over the last 5-7M years.

      2. Laura says:

        All I know is that something (pretty sure its palm oil) is contributing to inflammation in my joints and acne around my mouth. It took awhile to figure it out. It started about 7 years ago when I turned 40. First thought was it was hormonal. But it seemed to get really bad every Halloween, Christmas, Girl Scout Cookie season, and Easter. Terrible acne that would last weeks, and leave those red marks for weeks. Started putting it together that is was in the candy, cookies that I was hitting hard during that time. Started to experiment, and tracked it down to Palm Oil. If I eat one Kit Kat candy bar, I will have white pimple around my mouth in 24 hours. I am now 47, and it is starting to attack my joints when I over do it. I have to be careful, and read all the labels of everything I buy. I have not had a back or hand aches since I cut palm oil way down in my diet.And it also correlates with the 7 years that the American food manufactures starting adding more and more of it into their processed foods to cut cost.

        With my teenagers, I can see it on their acne covered faces. I can tell when they have been into the palm oil. It isn’t coming from my house because I am the grocery shopper. This summer, since they have been home and not eating at school, and staying at friends houses, their faces have cleared up. And don’t say it is hormonal, because I have a very athletic daughter who is going to be a freshman that still hasn’t started her period. Her sister who is the same age has. And they both break out when they are eating hitting the palm oil hard.

        1. Marcus DiMarco says:

          I think its more because of the sugar than the palm oil. Stop eating junk food lol. Eat fruits and veggies.

        2. Andy says:

          on your comment “With my teenagers, I can see it on their acne covered faces. I can tell when they have been into the palm oil. ”

          I don’t see how you assume that its palm oil and not their puberty and hormones. Teens having acne problems is pretty normal and expected.

      3. Marcus DiMarco says:

        Well ya they increase endotoxin producing bacteria. Duh. Thats because they kill gram positive so gram negative can take hold.

        Thats why you kill both smarty pants. Kill gram negative with food grade diatomaceous earth or betonite clay.

        You silly goose.

      4. Gary Sellars says:

        Then, if she wants objective facts, she would want to very deliberately look beyond PubMed, since they very deliberately maintain the lies that continue to cripple and kill millions. 🙂

  6. Kristen says:

    Wait, did I just read about a RODENT study on the HUMAN food project? Aren’t we aware by now that one animal’s medicine is another animal’s poison? That we can’t generalize the effects on one animal to the potential effects on another? It would be like koala’s running a study on eucalyptus leaves on humans and then announcing that eucalyptus is toxic to koalas. Ridiculous. Where do little mice even get fat in their natural diet? Not really very much to be found, is there? Come on you guys, you can do better.

    1. Jeff Leach says:

      wow. i don’t know how to even respond to that comment. or where to begin. so i will let it sit!

      1. Linda says:

        I am just wondering why everything has to be tested. Can we just depend on nature and use our common sense lol.. Just kidding but on a serious note I know my ancestors used red palm oil the unrefined one for many medicinal purposes “rash, for pregnant women or even for boils, which would often bust after leaving the red palm oil over night” so they used it for cooking and many more things. I believe they didn’t have access to western medicine and they look for nature to cure a lot of their problems.

    2. Kristen! Mice get fat from cheese! Silly! Everyone knows that, saw it on Tom and Jerry.

  7. Jennifer says:

    Hi Jeff- Great article and very interesting. Where can I find more info on this subject? I tried a google search and all the big name food guru’s are all promoting palm oil as a great anti-inflammatory supplement. I’m with you though. If you look at humans as an evolutionary animal, I can’t imagine us in the old days that taking the time to squeeze the oil out of olives or palm.

    1. Jeff Leach says:

      check out the link to the original peer-review articled – linked in post.

  8. Val says:

    how tacky that you wouldn’t be man enough to post my comment correcting your word.. You should have answered, wow, thx, Val, for that correction.. That would have said a lot about you. tsk tsk

    1. Jeff Leach says:

      Hi Val. Not sure what comment you are talking about. This is the only comment from a “Val” that I see. In the future, keep the comments civil. No need to be nasty.

  9. Crystie says:

    Hi Jeff,

    interesting article, and responses. I follow a few specific people who talk about high fat diets. Everyone I’ve read says that saturated fats are good, and polyunsaturated fats lead to massive inflammation. The pufa’s cause inflammation either because they got damaged via heat processing and will cause a big free radical cascade when consumed, or because they add to the bad omega 3 to omega 6 ratio which should be 1:6, not 1:20. Sometimes the author even includes a summary of the chemistry behind the reactions.

    So to read that palm oil, which “Practical Paleo” lists at 54% saturated and 42% monounsaturated, may be causing inflammation on the same level as the evil vegetable oils surprises me. It seems that some readers are contending that butter and tallow are better because grass fed cows produce better stuff. And I’ve read information along the same lines. But I thought that was because grass fed butter has more butyric acid and no antibiotics, which isn’t the same as the structural argument.

    Does this mean that I need to care about how the palm tree was grown? Could it be that in an area willing to do awful things to orangutans, the soil is full of something like pesticides, and this causes inflammation?

    I read a blog article by a phD who tore apart that French gmo study, saying the mice were given water out of BPA leaching plastic bottles. And the plastic alone would have given the mice all those tumors. I am totally not capable of digging into a study in that way–probably not in any way, really.

    I read one of your previous articles about eating more starches. It went against everything I thought I’d read. But I’ve been mulling things over and reading more. I tend to pay more attention to information geared at people with chronic health problems. And the groups and doctors talking to those populations are saying high fat and high protein–for healing. It doesn’t sound like most paleo/primal/Weston Price people who haven’t had chronic health problems eat 70% fat diets. And I look like the Kitavan people I found on google. So I probably need to do better at feeding bacteria that produce fat from vegetable starches in addition to considering how to deal with health problems. At the very least, I’ll stop worrying about hitting that 70% fat marker.

  10. Ron says:

    The trouble with Paleo diets is that our knowledge of what Paleo people ate is limited, but we know enough to prove that they don’t reflect what we probably did eat back then, and besides, we’ve evolved since–as have the foods we eat, with human intervention. In other words, Paleo diets as practiced have been debunked:

    1. Julia says:

      The diversity of diets enjoyed by paleolithic peoples should not be underestimated and may even be more diverse than the variety of “paleo” diets now being enjoyed. How would one go about presuming to debunk such a collective of phenomena as that?

  11. Ladislav Dory says:

    Please note the abundance of studies demonstrating a very strong ANTI-inflammatory effects of olive oil. In one study olive oils has been shown to induce, transcriptionally, a number of anti-inflammatory genes (in humans!). It is also in agreement with the well-documented beneficial effects of a mediterranian diet, a major componenet of which is copious amounts of EVO…

    1. I_Fortuna says:

      This may be true until the oilive oil is heated and is oxidized, then it becomes poison. Coconut oil is one oil can be used for cooking that takes a higher temperature without oxidizing. I can even cook with it successfully at lower temperatures.

  12. Rick Jenkins says:

    It sounds like the palm oil industry is attacking you here. I would recommend using extra virgin olive oil (cold pressed) from a reputable manufacturer that uses a dark glass bottle or metal can to preserve the taste and nutrients.

    Palm oil is cheap where I live (palm olein) but I don’t think it’s worth risking our cardiovascular health with that just to save a few bucks and also hurt the ecosystem.

    1. grace says:

      Hi Rick,

      I do not know where you live but it seems to me that you know nothing about red palm oil and definitely confused the crude palm oil, refined palm oil with red palm oil. I live in Malaysia and I grow up in Malaysia. What those people said about orang utan is not true. This is just a marketing gimmick to promote soybean oil and other vegetable oil industry in the Western countries. South east Asians have been consuming palm oil for many years and yet people with heart disease is far more less than that of Americans and other developed countries. Definitely something is wrong with their diet and do not blame palm oil where you eat McDonalds, fried chicken, pizza with plenty of cheese, baking goods using trans fat.

      and also Palm Oil is not cheap. If you think palm oil is cheap, corn oil, soybean oil, olive oil etc are even cheaper. Olive oil is best to be consumed raw and not meant for cooking and baking and also to take note that virgin olive oil (slightly green in colour) is far more better than the refined olive oil (yellowish in colour and does not have a strong fruity taste). Soybean oil and canola oil are very bad for health and yet many developed countries and fast food chains using these oils to cook and to fry and at the mean time they blame palm oil for causing heart disease among the people who eat fast food and with unhealthy diet.

      If you think palm oil is bad (i assume you never heard of red palm oil at all and do not know the difference between the refined and unrefined palm oil), why do people in South East Asia have much less coronary heart disease than the Americans? Red palm oil is rich in tocotrienol (a form of Vitamin E that is more potent than tocopherol) and beta carotene, Besides, it also contains CoQ10, vitamin K and lycopene etc. This oil is rich in antioxidant, which protects your heart! Many people do not know and get brain washed by the giant vegetable oil industry players in the Western countries that red palm oil is bad, bla bla bla etc. In fact, soybean oil and canola oil are much worse than any other cooking oil and yet it is widely used in restaurants, food companies etc.

      If you still think palm oil is bad, it destroy the home for orang utan, then come to Malaysia to witness it yourself. Ask yourself one simple question: does your country cut down trees for developing purpose? Do you live on trees? does your country convert forest into farm land, residential area etc. If no deforestation, where do you think the olive crop, soybean crop, canola crop and all other food souce come from? You don’t expect your country to develop and stop other countries from developing, preventing them to utilise their land, to provide jobs and more income for the people etc?

      So far there is NO research concludes that red palm oil is bad. In fact, when they did the research in India and Indonesia, they noticed that red palm oil is good. The beta carotene in red palm oil actually helps treating the children that have vitamin A deficiency. Even though RED palm oil contains high amount of saturated fat as compared to other vegetable oils (except coconut oil), it is a healthy oil that can be consumed daily. Our body needs saturated fat in order to function properly. If you cut down or totally eliminate saturated fats in your diet, your body will not be able to absorb vitamins and calcium properly. In the long run, you will have all sorts of vitamin deficiencies, calcium deficiency, dry skin etc. You may think this sounds funny and ridiculous but I can tell you that you should not and should never eliminate saturated fats in your diet as your body needs it! Cut down on processed food, fast food, baking goods and ready meals from supermarket will be good for you.

      Come and witness yourself and don’t blindly believe what the media wants you to believe. I can tell you that my whole family has been eating red palm oil for many years and we do health check every year and there’s nothing wrong with us — no high cholesterol and definitely no heart attack due to the consumption of red palm oil. So please get your facts right before concluding that palm oil is bad.

      1. Dee says:

        Hi Grace, there is a lot of ignorance I’m seeing here as a result of not having exposure to cultures and people from the Eastern world. I’m seeing thoughts like “how do they squeeze the oil out anyway? Not worth the work.” Why isn’t the same question being asked of olives? They are fruits with pits from which we derive oil, and NOBODY says they’re not worth it.

        The unchecked Western superiority complex is one very strong criticism I have about many Primal folks. I’m completely disregarding that study to be honest, because it flies counter to the real world experience I’ve actually witnessed… and I’m highly suspicious of their quality of palm oil. There’s the junk “palm oil” that’s used in processed food, and then there’s real RED palm oil. That’s like comparing grass fed butter to cheap margarine spread. They are absolutely not the same thing.

        Why can’t these same scientists drop the mice act and conduct a genuine study to see how humans fare on RED palm oil in their diets… it’s not like they lack for test subjects or anything. Look to the populations in the tropical world that survived on it for generations.

        My family is West African, and we have eaten red palm oil for way beyond our ancient collective memories. The fruits are almost always collected locally, and press rendered at home or some local shop. Which is still the traditional way it’s being done. I and my parents are whippet thin, and observably lean. As were my grandparents, and their parents too… half of whom were centigenrians before their passing. I render my own seasonally, from my palm trees here in my Californian front yard. It sure is a heck of a lot better than the overpriced yet still poor quality stuff being sold as “health food” in the store. I see “gurus” on Youtube holding up jars of it, and the sight of the sickly colored/textured stuff, that I know was harvested in an environmentally bad, way makes me cringe. They just don’t know the good from the bad, and that saddens me.

      2. Gabriel says:

        Dee or grace, do you have some advice for us how to identify a good quality red palm oil (colour, texture etc)?

        1. Dee says:

          Hi Gabriel,

          Here are some things a person should look at when determining wholesome palm oil:

          1. It is not translucent like seed oils. If you can see right through it, put it down. The palm oil you want is much closer to opaque.

          2. It is not yellow, golden, flaxen colored, or reminiscent of olive oil in any way. If it is, don’t buy it.

          3. The very best palm oil, at ambient temperature (73F/25C degrees) will be completely solid. An acceptable quality of imported palm oil has a thick layer of solid fat on top, and a notably viscous under layer…like tomato soup. However, if it doesn’t have that solid fat layer, and the liquid underneath isn’t sludge-like, it’s probably adulterated with some other oil to boost volume.

          4. When good quality palm oil is in its solid state, the fat should be orange, kinda like a carrot. If it’s orange with strong yellow tones, this is also acceptable. If it doesn’t have any hint of vivid orange hue to it, I wouldn’t buy it. Many of the processes rendered on the oils sold to American consumers are definitely tampering with this.

          5. When it’s melted, it’s going to look red with orangey overtones, and only then will it have a little transparency. The hotter it gets, the smoother it runs, and it can take a high level of heat pretty well.

          6. This is already a long list, but if in the case you get the palm kernel oil by accident (it’s much lighter in color, usually liquid at room temp), use it raw with a starch. Do not cook it. I’m going off the old wisdom of observation here, I’ve never seen any elder back in the old country eating palm kernel nuts in any way but raw, very sparingly and *always* paired with a much higher ratio of starch like gari or cassava, and not another protein for some reason. I’ve tried to eat palm kernel nuts in an alternative way from tradition, and all I got from it was feeling ill. I wonder how that study would have turned out had the researchers been advised of this information.

          1. Gabriel says:

            Thanks a lot, this is really helpful!

      3. Mark says:

        Thank you Grace for this article! I began using Red Palm Oil about 8 months ago! My triglycerides are down, and my HDL LDL are all back to normal. I use Red Palm & Coconut oil sparingly, but I have also found that it balanced out my fatty intake of ingesting Canola and other oils. I did a lot of research on Red Palm Oil and found it to be a benefit for me in regards to its vitamin rich antioxidants. This study kind of blew me away, but I will keep on going with what I am using now. I feel healthier and my physician checkups have improved since I have changed my “oil” intake.

      4. I_Fortuna says:

        Grace, Hi, I have done the research too and you are absolutely RIGHT! As a diabetic, I have had to do a lot of research to be able to better care for us. People will jump on any bandwagon on any blog instead of reading reputable studies, papers or other scientific research which is all we have right now for information or just using plain common sense, logic AND empirical evidence.
        Research on mice and other animals does not take into account genetics and lifestyle, two elements that matter in our health.
        I have repeated what you say here until I am exhausted. I am glad you covered everything. Mostly people on other blogs just ignore me (LOL) but that does not stop me. Following what I have learned thus far, I have been able to change my diabetic readings to actually normal or slightly above (A1C). Healthy foods can help reverse or control our diabetes but not cure it.
        Processed foods have ruined our health in the U.S. 1 in about 100 people have celiac disease or sensitivity to gluten in the U.S. and 25 million remained undiagnosed. This disease destroys the villi in the small intestine preventing vital nutrients from being absorbed by the body. Phytic acid and oxalic acid are a problem too but not if one combines, cooks or sprouts their food properly.
        Diabetics are low in magnesium because of improper preparation of foods and processed foods.
        Currently (I am 63) my blood sugar is under control, my cholesterol is low and I eat eggs nearly every day, and I take certain whole food supplements when I can’t get all my daily requirements especially magnesium and chlorella.
        Thank you for saying what is on my mind every day. Maybe we can help even one person by educating them.

  13. Lisa says:

    Fish Oil has millions of articles about how it reduces inflammation. Doctors and Chiropractors, Nutritionists and Supplement Companies tout this fact. .It’s the EPA portion of the fat that makes it work. Your thoughts?

    1. Jeff Leach says:

      don’t really know – don’t follow the fish oil research that closely. i’ve always wondered how fish oil could be so good for humans, when for the majority of our evolution our ancestors didn’t consume in appreciable qtys. sure, some isolated groups take a lot of fish with the aid of nets in very specific environments, but nets are a recent technology. note the hadzabe in east africa don’t eat fish.

  14. Gabriel says:

    Jeff, I think you misinterpreted the study. In that study, the PUFA fats rapeseed oil and sunflower oil lead to increased serum endotoxin levels, while the saturated milk and palm fats did not elevate endotoxin. Their inflammatory markers were probably lower because PUFAs are immunosuppressive.

    In that way, I would interpreted the study as milk and palm fat being superior to the PUFA fats because they dont lead to endotoxinemia while at the same time allowing the body to react accordingly.

    It’s a shame that they didnt measure hard outcomes such as total survival of the mice. This would give a more definite answer on whether SFA or PUFA are superior.

    Inflammation is not necessarily a bad thing.

    1. Jeff Leach says:

      Thanks. However, pretty sure I didn’t misinterpret the study as I wasn’t interpreting anything – as I was simply summarizing their findings 🙂

      1. Marcus DiMarco says:

        Gabriel is exactly right. Palm oil had less endotoxemia than rapeseed. May want to reread the abstract lol. Fail.

  15. Anders says:

    I use cold pressed rapeseed oil both in salads and for frying. Works fine with me. Having also a good taste.

  16. Marcus DiMarco says:

    Good. More endotoxins means the palm oil is killing mocrobes in the gut just like it is supposed to. If you want to prevent those endotoxins from getting in the blood uae activated charcoal. It adsorbs them. I bet if the study went longer the mice bieng fed palm oil would have a lower long term endotoxin blood level.

    I hate it when people who know nothing about health like this author act like experts.

  17. Paul Reilly says:

    It’s a shame they didn’t throw a couple of unprocessed fats in there, for the sake of a few mice/sheckles they could have closed yet another opened door. I read one connected to this issue on Pubmed which came to conclusions about high fat diets combined with cigarette smoking based on feeding humans either nothing or toast and butter (with or without smoking). Maybe it was the carbs/sugar/additives in the toast, maybe it was the additives in that brand of cigarettes… we’ll never know!

    I must admit though that I do not understand the palm oil adoration displayed in some of the replies to this article, considering the destruction the industry is causing. Even if it unrefined palm oil was proven to be a superfood, it’s not as if the nutritional benefit could not be replicated using other, more sustainable, food sources. I hear whale fat is the bomb.

    1. Herman says:

      why i couldn’t see you take the same scrutiny to soyabean oil or other oil for that matter? palm oil is one of the most efficient corps, meaning much less land for same amount of oil. The unsustainable accusation was mostly the propaganda by soybean industry. For more info, upi could read reads books by bruce fife

  18. matt says:

    The issue of inflammation can only be understood with the proper balance of Omega 3 to 6’s. You need both but most of Americas are eating too many Omega 6’s like 20x what they should….. Soy, Corn, Safflower, Sunflower etc… this is a huge cause of inflammation because your body with too many 6’s turns them into inflammatory eicosanoids. Not sure your definition of inflammation. Some of the best markers are your AA/EPA ratio in blood, Fasting Insulin, and Triglyceride/HDL. Did the study measure any of these?

  19. Steve says:

    By the way, Grok would have consumed twinkies every day if they were available and he’d have still died before he got disease of the modern world. Who cares what grok ate? I want to know what I can eat now, and what to exclude.

    1. AngelaL says:

      Yes, I agree with Steve! After reading this article and all the comments, all I really want to know is what I CAN eat now and feed my family here in the Southwestern U.S., and what I SHOULD exclude. Another factor would be heritage – cultural traditions play a large factor in what I make for my family as I’m Mexican-American – we enjoy and look forward to making certain foods during certain times of the year and for certain events. I have already changed many of our family recipes as it is, but lately I feel as if I can’t even go to the store a buy a bottle of vegetable oil (no matter the type), I get overwhelmed! I cook A LOT, but I do not have the time nor access to the resources to make things such as my own oil! Further, I have found that the definition on labels of “Natural” or “Organic” do not necessarily match my own. So, I want to know what I can eat now, what to exclude, and where I can purchase these edible products!

      1. I_Fortuna says:

        We are a Mexican American family too and I am not sure what you have had to change. I use coconut oil and since we are diabetic, I have cut us down to fewer carbs. We have beans, cheese, carnitas, chicken, fish, chile rellenos, homemade enchilada sauce and homemade Mexican rice. The only thing I changed was using coconut oil and using as many organic foods as possible and not overeating.
        I make our Mexican rice by dry roasting the rice in the pan first then making it as usual. This keeps the kernals from opening up and makes it slower to digest which is great for us or anyone who does not want a lot of sugar flooding their system.
        As a rule, I find Mexican food very healthy by decreasing or eliminating the carbs.
        I supplement our diet with whole food vitamins and kefir. Kefir or yogurt can heal the gut and give us the right bacteria for good digestive health.
        Some Paleo people will tell you to cut out all dairy including yogurt and kefir. This makes no sense. In most countries and with our more primitive ancestors fermentation of dairy, veggies and meat was most assuredly common. These have been missing from the diets of many Americans and other people who are afraid of fermentation other than alcoholic beverages LOL.
        I have had disagreements with Paleo people who want to cut out fruit. Many fruits give us lutein and zeaxanthin which are critical in preventing macular degeneration which leads to blindness. They contain many other vitamins, phytonutrients and minerals that some people will tell you that you can get from other foods but in my mind, fruit is one of the joys of eating..
        So, If you need more info on a healthy Mexican food diet, please let me know and maybe I can help.

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  21. dinosaur says:

    Palm oil are better in comparison with many other oils. My family members have been consuming this oil for 4-5 generations. none of us have had any cholesterol or heart related issues. Numerous experiments carried out have also confirmed the same. You may be referring to a report sponsored by oil manufacturers (other than Palm oil that is) to eliminate competition.
    The point is “competition brings out the best in products and the worst in people/ big organisations”.

  22. David Jefferson says:

    Studies show that palm oil, coconut oil makes you fat and grains and sugar make you skinny. Simple as that. Why anyone would consume palm oil is beyond me.

    1. You’re being sarcastic, right?

  23. I feel sorry for the animals who get experimented on, force fed all the crap that they wouldn’t normally eat, what a life.!!! Animal experiments don’t work, they don’t have the same system as humans and we all react differently. Anyway, I only use red palm oil on my hair and find it good.

  24. gwneth says:

    im compleatly off the stuff but this site was usfull for my presintation just saying im terrible at spelling

  25. Kim says:

    I didn’t read all of the comments on the article, so forgive me if I’m repeating anything, but what about this published study: It seems pretty conclusive.

  26. Palm is the highest-yielding (per acre) oil crop in the world [source:

    This means that to produce the same amount of fat with ANY OTHER plant or animal source would require MORE deforestation, not less.

    The number 1 cause of rainforest destruction is all-natural free-range beef. That’s because the yield is extraordinarily low – several acres of clear-cut land are just enough for one cow.

    I see some potential for palm oil doing good in the world, as long as we still conserve certain areas for orangutan habitats.

    We would need to stop the palm oil demand from growing bigger than what it is, to prevent more habitats from being cleared. The single most effective way is to stop using palm oil as biofuel.

    Biofuel should only come from plant waste, such as corn husks, wheat chaff, tomato leaves, etc. Land is too precious to grow food just for burning.

    Red palm oil may be the only viable source of vitamin A in some parts of the world. Don’t give up on it, just grow it sustainably.

    1. Herman says:

      I totally agree with what you said. BUt Why didn’t you take the same scrutiny to soy/corn oil? They took no less amount of land, already being used as biofuel

  27. Proof says:

    If you have ever seen palm oil, it is a solid until about 120 degrees, (unlike vegetable oils such as sunflower, peanut, and canola that are liquid). That is why a lot of food manufactures use this stuff. Basically they use it so there icing doesn’t melt in transportation to the supermarket, or so there dressing, twinkies, sour cream, cream cheese, whip cream stay somewhat firm. But if the human body is 98 degrees, how does this stuff make it out of your body, joints, pores? I avoid this stuff, but I know when I have eaten it. Within 24 hours I have white pimples around my mouth, and my joints in my hands and knees start to ache. I swear it clogs my pours. Since I started watching food labels, and not buying food with any kind of palm, my teenagers acne has gone away, with a few flare ups with one daughter because I can’t watch what they eats at school. It;s funny how one of my daughters has realized she doesn’t like pimples, and knows what foods have palm and avoid them now, and the other enjoys her cream, palm-oil-filled sandwich cookies every once in awhile from the vending machine at school. And we can tell by acne on her face. When she is home for breaks and summer, her face clears up, because I don’t buy it.

  28. Gary Sellars says:

    I came to this page to find info on palm oil because I found conflicting information and was dissatisfied with the incongruence.

    My gut (not figuratively speaking) tells me that I don’t like palm oil (though I’ve only had it in significant amounts twice and don’t know how it was processed). It goes down with an unpleasantness that immediately feels like it stays solid. I wanted to describe it as going down “like a rock” but thought that a bit too strong.

    As most of us have heard, our bodies talk to us and we should listen.

  29. Oil Palms produce the highest quantity of oil per hectare of any vegetable source. When sustainably grown, they are the most sustainable source of oil. Red palm oil, the oil from the fruit, has health benefits because of the naturally occurring carotenes, tocopherols, and tocotrienols.
    The study proves little, other than it is one more bad design by people who don’t understand the complexities of interactions within the animal digestive system. The diet itself is misclassified as a high fat diet, when it is in actuality a high fat high carb diet, a diet which has been proven to cause disease.
    That refined palm oil would cause elevated inflammatory markers when consumed with high carbohydrates shouldn’t surprise anybody.

    1. Whether or not palm oil is good for us is still in debate, but we know that palm oil is not good for the planet. Yearly burning of the old trees and burning of peat to make room for new trees is poisoning the planet and the people in it. I live in Singapore and every year we are subjected to the haze that comes from Indonesia’s burning for palm oil production. It is environmental genocide.

  30. Megan says:

    I used red palm oil as a butter replacement in cookies the other day and within a short amount of time became very ill vertigo nausea and vomiting I had never had it before and won’t be having it again.

  31. Conan says:


    How would you explain someone like Peter Attia, Jack Kruse, Gary Taubes, Jimmy Moore, Mark Sisson Myself and others on the web, who went on a high fat diet and reduced all markers of inflammation. Granted, there does seem to be a optimal seasonal diet, that should be followed. The winter would not have produce a carb rich diet for our ancestors, but may have produced a resistant starch(RS) environment (through tree nuts). Likewise, the summer would be a time of high carb intake with less fat and protein.

    It does seem that a RS/ high fat diet may complement ones labs profoundly. Some of the recent, anecdotal stories of people improving the gut microbes thru resistant starch, seems very interesting.

    If we look at American Natives,100 years ago, before they started to live on reservations, and were provided flour and sugar by the Army to “survive”, diabetes and neo-lithic disease were non-existant. But today, there relatives are certain to have diabetes (and the cascade of events that it brings on). The plains Indians were high fat protein diet. And probably ate this way every day, since they followed the herds.

    The type of calorie, and the time of year it is consumed seems to be the key to health.

  32. Milo says:

    Palm oil is really horrible. Ever since I was 6 I stopped eating palm oil. I also protest and other things to save orangutan.

  33. Robin says:

    What an interesting place – this discussion. Thankyou for your objective and gentle perseverance Jeff.

    If palm oil is OK for us to consume so much of, we don’t need the little mice to test it on do we?

    Wouldn’t we all willingly participate in a study, as human subjects, to learn the effects on our health?

    Me? No way. I wont be participating, except in the group that does not consume it. I already know that food made from palm oil, makes me and both my children feel unwell. The same food, made from sunflower oil, does not.

    Also, I have travelled on the backroads used only by locals, through the eastern part of Sabah in Borneo, in an area where according to published studies, there are no palm oil plantations…..There are. From what we could see, the forest is kept only along a tract of land that runs along the river banks in which the last remaining of their magnificent, species struggle to survive as the tourists glide past on boats.

    What’s so wrong with sunflower oil instead?

  34. sarah says:

    Thanks for this article.I have Crohn’s disease and recently started eating Carob made with palm oil. I actually developed a low grade fever and felt like my gut was swollen, which seems consistent with the increased inflammation you describe.

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  36. alan says:

    The problem I have with the study “Oil composition of high-fat diet affects metabolic inflammation…” is I can’t determine what kind of palm oil they used. Or any of the oil for that matter. Raw? Refined? Hydrogenated? It doesn’t say in the study so really what good is it?

    1. Alan, if you are really interested, the best source I can recommend for a 1/2 hour read on what is healthy and not healthy is to go to Wikipedia and look up palm oil, coconut oil, hydrogenated, etc.
      You will find that most oils are highly processed with chemical extractions and reactions making the resulting concoctions deadly. Palm oil is not excluded. Inflammation is caused by unknown elements and compounds flowing thru your body that your body does not recognise. Simply solution – your body attacks it as a foreign organism, generating inflammation in the process. Inflammation is a result of ingesting many manmade chemicals such as “trans fats” as an example.

  37. alan says:

    Also was it Red Palm Fruit Oil or Palm Kernel Oil? Big difference in composition.
    Over processed oils cause inflammation so whether the oils were raw or not really matters.
    Still looking into it…I want to use palm oil for the high tocotrienol content.

    1. One thing I have noted about saturated fats such as palm oil and palm kernel oil is they are “chemically stable” while polyunsaturated fats have unstable structures that allows bonding with radical oxygen species (free radicals), thus promoting inflammation as the free radicals have bonded with an unstable polyunsaturated fat to create a new foreign substance in your body. Your immune system attacks it and that results in inflammation. I am not sure if I understand this correctly or not, but I do know if i have a choice between stable and unstable, the correct choice is almost certainly “stable”.

  38. gio says:

    I bought a box of Kellogg’s crunchy nut granola. It tasted different than usual, checked the ingredients and it contains palm oil. I will return the product back and ask a refund. I am also writing to Kellogg’s and make a complain. Maybe if consumers will take action and return products containing palm oil or gm food back, those ingredients wouldn’t be so welcoming by the producers. Unfortunately most people are all about keyboard bla bla bla and zero, real physical action.

    Just a thought!

    1. I think the bastardisation of Palm Oil by western agribusiness is not a reason to condemn Palm Oil. It is now known as one of the most easily produced “Natural” cooking oils on the planet. It is the “only” cooking oil promoted by the United Nations as a healthy source of fats.

      Just like Apple Juice, I can buy partially hydrogenated, chemically concocted, mass produced crap, or I can squeeze a couple apples in my juicer and have organic apple juice. Not apple Juice’s fault if I make the wrong choice.

      You are a victim of 100 years of propaganda by the agribuisness industry starting with margarine being healthier than butter way back in 1920. Of course now we know margarine to be one of the worst cooking oils out there.

  39. Claude says:

    I just find is so disconcerting to read some of these comments from people unable to comprehend that there are 2 very different oils produced from palm trees. Please try and understand the difference between the healthy, virgin, cold-pressed, Red Palm Oil from the palm fruit and the cheap, refined, nasty, ubiquitous, unhealthy Palm Oil from the palm seed/kernel found in processed foods. Yes, they are both derived from palm trees, but the similarities end there!!! They are 2 entirely different products! And only one is truly fit for human consumption. Palm Oil from the kernel, which you find on labels of cereals, packaged baked goods, candy, etc… is a poison. BUT the Red Palm Oil expressed from the palm fruit is loaded with antioxidants, and when consumed in small amounts, is, and has been for centuries across the globe, one of the most nutritious edible oils in the world. They are 2 completely different oils from 2 completely different sources. Please, if anyone else can explain it better, to help these commenters get it, please join in.

    1. Red palm oil comes from the palm fruit. Up to you whether you make it cold-pressed and healthy or hydrogenate it with trans fats and make it garbage. Same with Palm Kernel Oil which comes from the nut inside the fruit, either you cold-press extract with minimal heat and no chemical processing or you turn it into hydrogenated crap or somewhere in between. Palm Kernel Oil (cold-pressed) is almost identical to coconut oil.

    2. 2nd comment about this is that the traditional yellow palm oil is not necessarily over processed or chemically refined. They can remove the red carotenoids via a clay filter that has no effect on what filters thru, it just removes stuff that we may want. With that said, palm oil is like many other oils, mislabeled, outright false claims and other stuff. Any italian will tell you that only about 10% of the top quality olive oil is NOT rancid. Same for palm oil, some make it good, some do not.

    3. Dawn says:

      I did not know this, but it may very well hepl me. Thank you 🙂

  40. says:

    I hate it when i find out i have eaten a product with palm oil in as i hate the gressy after taste it leaves in your mouth i look at lables and avoid it its yuk and i have the right to choose what i put in my body.

  41. Dawn says:

    Hi, I am tring to find out if anyone suffers with an upset tummy after eating Palm Oil. I have been finding more and more mass produced food is upsetting me, Palm Oil is in so much now. I am really struggling to avoid it not only for the health of our wonderful planet, but also for my tummy. Palm oil is now rulled out of my diet and my tummy is so much better. I have an intolerance to whole milk and cream, but getting by with alturnatives is getting harder and harder, as Palm Oil seems to be upsetting me too, and creaping into everything.

  42. RT says:

    Palm oil industry is blooming and expand wildly. Same goes to it critics and bad command especially on the health and environmental impact of this industry. But if we step back and think on a neutral line we might found something not right. Health – No doubt it(palm oil) bring harm to our body but its same goes to others sunflower oil and groundnut’s oil, the Internet can proved my statement. So why are we so focus on this particular oil. Are the palm oil so bad it desire a world wide condemn or because it become a treat to others edible oil industry in the world. Environment – Yes! I agreed the deforestation is increasing due the industry and I also sympathies the species involved on it. I believed deforestation at United State and Europe in the name of development have been done long before the existence of on this industry. So why critics others who do the same. As I go through the up roar created by the palm oil, I felt that do we speculate on the neutral line? or we trying to protect the interest of the so call conventional oil edible industry?. Give it a thought^^.

  43. Richard C says:

    I have noticed after direct personal experiments that my stomach reacts badly to processed pastry when it contains palm oil. Its fairly immediate and creates wind and pain within 30 minutes quite acute at times.
    This does not happen when butter is used I note. Cant speak yet for rapeseed oil but sunflower oil does not affect me like this. Thought at first it was a gluten issue but tested that and its not. Palm Oil is in so many foods now so almost means cutting out all processed pastries.

  44. zylstra says:

    Jeff, the “dizzying number of names” is now listed on this page, (your existing link gives an error).

  45. Sierra says:

    If I eat palm oil in any consideration,about two weeks later my forehead breaks out in painful lumps that cause migraines the lumps last about a week then another appers until it is out of my system

    1. Cindy McEwen says:

      I had to look this up as I ate peanut butter (Peter Pan) with fractionated palm oil for two nights because it was so good. I noticed the first night I had a bad headache. Didn’t connect the dots yet, so the next night I had some more. Got a really bad headache and also noticed bumps on my forehead (never get) and looked up what was in this peanut butter besides peanuts. I usually only eat organic and did my regular jucing through the day, so I knew it wasn’t any of that,
      I will stay away from this product and any palm oil especially any fractionated oils. We need to read everything no matter how cumbersome it can be. Thanks for sharing, it wasn’t just me.

      1. zylstra says:

        Interesting. The last time I ate peanut butter with anything other than peanuts in it was 10 years ago, but I remember it tasting horrible.

  46. mr petey says:

    hmmmmm?.let’s get one thing straight right now! Wheat gluten is at the bottom of most of the U S health problems today. suffocating the gut’s probiotics…enhancing the growth of toxic bacteria like candida, it destroys mind, body and soul. ask alaskans living the hunter gatherer existance….high protein (animal).high fat(also…) supplying the bulk of their calories…heart, high blood pressure, inflamation disorders,etc….nonexistant! the pharmaceutical industry would collapse if wheat had not been cross bred with the push by the usda to be high in gluten. in the 1960’s doctors were advising people with such things as arthritis to abstain from wheat consumption….eating sugars of all kinds and certain carbs feeds the toxic bugs in your gut…ouch…neuropathic like burn and gnawing feelings by nerves are misdiagnosed as other things…and once again a plethora of drugs are unleashed…most to little or no avail…and the pain goes on because the diagnosis is wrong..and drug side affects??? killing us all…but stocks are up. and now more bad news…monsanto the chemical company has show farmers that if ROUNDUP is applied to wheat fields….right before harvest…the shocked plants produce up to 38% more wheat kernels..then the stalks all die-off uniformally….nice and crisp and dry for the harvesing machines…less fuel, less maintenance, less wages paid…everything is like shan-grila…ooooooohhhhh….but now your eating ROUNDUP…which kills FLORA….and what lives in ur gut and is 80% or more of your health??????? FLORA. have a nice day y’all..and God bless us…we need it!!!!

  47. I don’t want to eat palm oil, but it’s put in almost everything.

  48. Harold Jacobs says:

    The highest quality and most nutritious red palm oil I have found is made by Nutiva: it is certified organic, unrefined, vegan, non-GMO. It has 0g trans fat, is non-hydrogenated, and contains no hexane. It is manufactured in Richmond, CA. The oil comes from small organic and fair trade certified family farms and no habitat is harmed. My local health food store carries it and so might yours. It does not require refrigeration and has a rich, buttery flavor. I use it in cooking as a substitute for extra-virgin olive oil. It provides beautiful color and flavor to cooked dishes, such as chicken and steak.

  49. Richard Crowe says:

    I came to this site because it mentioned Palm Oil negatively …and I think I have identified Palm Oil for myself as a major cause of a fairly quick acute stomach reaction that feels like a upper stomach heartburn. I have been trying to get to the cause of this stomach reaction which occurs within 30 mins to 2 hours of consuming the suspect ingredient, causes quite acute pain that feels like acute indigestion… a burning sensation that feels as if the entire upper part of the stomach is inflamed. its bad enough that I feel forced to treat with Bicarbonate of Soda. This settles it eventually but slowly. The pain is often acute enough to wake me in the night up 2 or 3 hours after eating and leaves the stomach feeling sore and sensitive. Takes a while to settle back down over a day or so. Obviously I was anxious to find out the cause. I looked at the usual suspects… but
    the one item that remains after a slow process of elimination I undertook seems to be Palm Oil. Hard to identify because it is in so many foods now and it would seem in a number of forms too. I have seen very little discussion on Palm Oil as a possible cause of stomach inflammation. I just notice if I avoid Palm Oil added foods then I don’t get this reaction. I wonder if others might have noticed these kinds of reactions? Millions are apparently avoiding gluten but is that the real cause of their problems?

  50. Alun says:

    Palm oil is proven to increase your bad cholesterol and reduce your good cholesterol, this product should be banned for the sake of the environment also the affect of personal health.

    1. VoiceOfReason says:

      Palm oil has NOT been proven to “increase your bad cholesterol”. So you’re either blatantly lying or misinformed. There is evidence that palm oil actually decreases LDL (low density lipoprotein aka “bad cholestrol”), and may possibly also increase HDL (high density lipoprotein aka “good cholestrol”). Yes LOW density lipoprotein is the bad one, not the good one. In addition, it contains a lot of beneficial nutrients including both beta- and alpha carotenes, vitamin E, vitamin K, flavonoids, saturated, monounsaturated and polunsaturated fatty acids. Saturated fatty acids are ESSENTIAL for a healthy diet. Why are people convinced that fats should be eliminated from their diet? This is ridiculous. FATS ARE NEEDED IN A HEALTHY DIET. Some of the contents of palm oil are directly linked to prophylaxis against, or treatment against various disorders including migraines, statin myopathy, parkinson’s disease, possibly cancer (more research is needed to confirm this), and other ailments. It’s really annoying for uninformed morons like you and also the halfwit who wrote this article, to make sweeping assumptions with no basis. But this is the internet where every Tom, Dick and Harry is a journalist.

      1. Richard Crowe says:

        I would like to reiterate the anecdotal evidence from my personal experience of getting an inflamed stomach from Palm Oil. Annecdotal evidence is important and if enough people discover the same effect it produces pressure to run proper scientific tests. I worked on research into the effects of Benzodiazepine ( Valium Tempazepam Lorazepam et al) at the time the Largest grossing drug of all time. Yet it was a district nurse in the UK who first raised the question of their addictive properties. I was astonished at the time to learn no real studies had been done despite the countless millions of presecriptions into possible addiction. The doctors were faced with mass lawsuits and then did the dangerous step of just stopping prescriptions.
        Anecdotal evidence is a valuable first step. Honestly I doubt I am the only one who suffers fairly quickly from inflamation after ingesting Palm Oil.
        I would like to know if me and the orangutans are not alone in this.

  51. It is possible to grow plants in a sustainable way.

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  53. Daniel says:

    Note that….”fat content as a percentage of diet was maintained at 22.4% “. This still would be considered a low fat diet. What made the rest of the diet? How can a scientist extrapolate this kind of data about fat when its not even being properly controlled?

    I could turn around and say that the gut mircobiome being supported by the carbohydrates is responsible for the inflammatory effects of fats. My next action would be then to advise a high fat diet (a diet that has >70% of calories obtained from fat). Then you also need to test the different types of fat as well such as SF, PUFA and MUFA. Each have a different effect on the body.

  54. pone1 says:

    The problem with this study is that they used refined palm oil, which contains 9% polyunsaturated fatty acids. The refining process can result in an oil that oxidizes very easily, and what is worse it can create trans fats. Did anyone chemically measure the processed oil to check for a bad refinement process?

    While we are at it, have you ever found a source for palm *kernel* oil that is food grade? Palm kernel oil is the one that has characteristics much more like coconut oil, yet for some reason it is not being sold to consumer markets.

  55. pone1 says:

    In your referenced French study, please look at Graph F in Figure 2. The highest measured levels of endotoxins was in the two polyunsaturated fats. Strangely, Palm Oil shows the lowest level of endotoxins of all the measured groups!

    So, that leads to the perplexing question: what caused the high inflammation levels seen with the palm oil? Maybe that was trans fat from a bad refinement process?

    Why did this study not use a pure saturated fat like coconut oil for one of the test groups? That would have provided a much needed reference point among the oils.

  56. Kevin R says:

    Studies have shown that a palm oil-enriched diet does not raise the level of LDL or total cholesterol, and may even lead to lower plasma levels of LDL.

    Obviously, I’m not disputing the study you cited, but the way it was done. Thing is, no one would eat 22.4% palm oil fat every day, so a normal human would not get to the point of increased markers of inflammation.

    We should all eat a mixed healthy diet, not fall to extremes. Palm oil has a lot of benefits if consumed in moderation.

  57. PJ says:

    Paul Newman products use Palm Fruit Oil…if you read the label…
    When I see Palm oil or palm kernel oil on a label, I put it back on the shelf…I don’t like what I’ve read about it. I often take the ph# from the box or package and call the Company to complain…I can’t believe some of the major companies are using it, like Nature Valley and Nutella

  58. jamie says:

    Be aware some of us suffer bad indigestion from eating biscuits, cakes, pastry, chocolates and many other processed foods due to PALM oil, for me 95 percent of shop processed food cannot be eaten. Usually one or two biscuits sets off the indigestion or one or two chocolates from a selection box. I once found a rare selection box with no palm oil and ate seventeen chocolates one after another with NO INDIGESTION. Today almost ALL the big names in chocolates use Palm oil!
    How many people suffer without realizing PALM oil is the culprit?
    If Palm oil was not such a disgusting looking product it would be available to the general public, I’v never seen it in the shops. Funny that.

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