Palm Oil Developments No.34 (June 2001) p14-21

Changing Perceptions on the Role of Saturated Fats in Human Nutrition


Dietary fat continues to be a major research priority because of its association with heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases(Chandrasekharan, 1999). Misconceptions about fats abound. Saturated fats have been much maligned because of their association with animal fats and the earlier concerns about hypercholesterolemia and heart disease (Uffe Ravnskov, 1995). Frequent and conflicting reports in the media about their health effects often create confusion in the minds of the public (Chandrasekharan and Yusof, 1998). There is a tendency for the media to focus on the negative health implications of dietary fats and to overlook its nutritional importance. This situation has no doubt influenced consumersí perceptions of fats and oils. However, there has been a better understanding of oils and fats and their effects on health and disease over the years. It is now well established that all saturated fatty acids are not equivalent in terms of their hypercholesterolemic effects and that it is the total dietary fatty acids that are important in nutrition (Chandrasekharan et al., 2000).

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