Palm Oil as a Nutraceutical

July 29/Pharma Business Week -- "Palm oil is one of the most important edible oils in the world. Its composition (rich in palmitate and oleate) make it suitable for general food uses, but its utility could be increased if its fatty acid quality could be varied," researchers in Wales report.

"In this study, we have modified a palm olein fraction by transesterification with the n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, alpha-linolenate or eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Evaluation of the potential nutritional efficacy of the oils was made using chondrocyte culture systems which can be used to mimic many of the degenerative and inflammatory pathways involved in arthritis. On stimulation of such cultures with interleukin-1 alpha, they showed increased expression of cyclooxygenase-2, the inflammatory cytokines tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), IL-1 alpha and IL-1 beta and the proteinase ADAMTS-4. This increased expression was not affected by challenge of the cultures with palm olein alone but showed concentration-dependent reduction by the modified oil in a manner similar to EPA," wrote Z. Zainal and colleagues, Cardiff University.

The researchers concluded, "These results show clearly that it is possible to modify palm oil conveniently to produce a nutraceutical with effective anti-inflammatory properties."

Zainal and colleagues published their study in Lipids ("Modification of Palm Oil for Anti-inflammatory Nutraceutical Properties." Lipids, 2009;44(7):581-592).

For additional information, contact J.L. Harwood, Cardiff University, School Bioscience, Cardiff CF10 3AX, S Glam, Wales.

From the August 3, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition