EPOA reaction on WHO recommendation palm oil
The WHO Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office stated in a recent advisory that people should consume unsaturated fats found in fish, avocado, nuts, olive oil, soy, canola, sunflower and corn oils rather than saturated fats found in fatty meat, butter, palm and coconut oils, cream, cheese, ghee and lard. The European Palm Oil Alliance (EPOA) is very disappointed that WHO (still) does not recognize the good properties of (sustainable) palm oil.
EPOA calls upon the WHO to reconsider their stance on palm oil and would be happy to discuss that.
Edible oils and fats are an integral part of the human diet and all are composed of different fatty acids, both saturated and unsaturated (but in different proportions). Palm oil has a natural balance of saturated and unsaturated fats to ensure the absorption of various dietary micronutrients, it does not require hydrogenation – a treatment with hydrogen to increase shelf life or change functionality and potentially creating trans fatty acids- and is available in large quantities. Palm oil is a very versatile edible oil with excellent properties and is used in a wide range of food products ranging from infant formula to cookies.
In many food applications, the use of palm oil and palm oil fractions has been instrumental in lowering trans fat levels. The successful reduction of trans fatty acids in margarine for example, has been predominantly the result of using specific combinations of palm oil and liquid oils. No other vegetable fat with a semi-solid texture at room temperature and providing the same features exists in sufficient quantity.
And to conclude I would like to draw your attention to the fact that in countries where fat consumption is below recommendations of the WHO, as is the case in large parts of Asia and Africa, health focus is different. The need to provide a reliable, sustainable and affordable source of calories to ward off undernutrition (and increased susceptibility of infection) is paramount.
Two examples of studies on the above mentioned role of (sustainable) palm oil in both health and sustainability aspects can be found here and here.