Some critics have claimed that palm oil is linked with heart disease and other non-communicable diseases.
But a nutritional biochemist pointed out that many studies have shown that saturated fat may not have an impact on heart disease risk.
Wayne State University’s Department of Nutrition and Food Science Associate Prof Dr Pramod Khosla said that many such studies have since emerged since 2011.
He added palm oil is a balanced oil with an equal amount of unsaturated and saturated fats.
The seminar was part of the ‘Love MY Palm Oil Campaign’ launched by Dr Mahathir on March 24.
In fact, Dr Khosla said that one of the biggest contributors to heart disease is too much salt, which could lead to hypertension, a risk factor for heart disease.
He said it is recommended that a healthy diet comprises eating many different foods, and palm oil can be part of that healthy diet.
Dr Khosla said that up to 50g of palm oil can be added to the overall total diet to satisfy the dietary guidelines for a healthy person.
That could make up 50%-60% of total dietary fat.
He said that fats included those from less visible sources, such as pastries, cookies, milk, meat and that cooking oil and palm oil can make up 50g of the total overall amount.
He said fat percentages in dietary guidelines could make up 25% to 35% of a person’s total energy intake.
On another matter, Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok, who also attended the event, hoped China will buy more palm oil from Malaysia after Malaysia and China signed the revised deal of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL).
Although she was not part of the discussions and could not raise the request, she said she would convey her ministry’s request to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for him to negotiate with China to buy more palm oil from Malaysia.
He is expected to attend the One Belt, One Road seminar at the end of the month.
“We hope we will get more sales for Malaysia’s palm oil,” she added.
It was reported that analysts said the prospect of palm oil purchases being included in the ECRL renegotiation deal would be a boon for the local commodity’s outlook this year.
Palm oil makes up around 5.05 million tonnes or 58% of China’s edible oil imports.
Of the total, Malaysia’s palm oil imports are around 1.92 million tonnes or 5% of China’s total edible oil consumption.