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Effects of Palm and Sunflower Oils on Serum Cholesterol and Fatty Liver in Rats

Go, Ryeo-Eun, Hwang, Kyung-A, Kim, Ye-Seul, Kim, Seung-Hee, Nam, Ki-Hoan, Choi, Kyung-Chul
Journal of medicinal food 2015 v.18 no.3 pp. 363-369
Helianthus annuus, ambient temperature, animal models, blood lipids, blood serum, butter, cholesterol, cooking, coronary disease, dietary fat, fatty liver, food industry, hyperlipidemia, ingredients, lipid metabolism, liver, low density lipoprotein, palm oils, rats, risk, saturated fats, sunflower oil, vegetable oil
Palm oil is a common cooking ingredient used in the commercial food industry as the second largest consumed vegetable oil in the world. Because of its lower cost and highly saturated nature, it usually maintains a solid form at room temperature and is used as a cheap substitute for butter. However, there has been a growing health concern about palm oil because of the link between dietary fats and coronary heart disease. Palm oil contains ∼49% saturated fat, a relatively high concentration compared with other vegetable oils. Consequently, high intakes of saturated fat from palm oil induce a larger increase in plasma concentrations of total cholesterol and low-density lipoproteins. In the present study, we examined the hyperlipidemia of palm oil and the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) using a rat model in comparison with sunflower oil with a relatively low level of saturated fat. On in vivo examination using Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats for 22 days, there were no significant differences in serum lipid levels, suggesting that palm oil may not cause hyperlipidemia and elevate CVD risk. However, liver samples obtained from SD rats fed with palm oil showed a lot of large lipid inclusions stained with the Oil Red O working solution, but not much lipid accumulation was observed in rats treated with sunflower oil. In addition, lipid accumulation in the mixed oil group fed the combination of palm and sunflower (1:1) oil was shown to be at an intermediary level between the palm oil group and sunflower oil group. Taken together, these results indicate that palm oil, a highly saturated form of vegetable oil, may induce dysfunction of the liver lipid metabolism before affecting serum lipid levels. On the other hand, sunflower oil, a highly unsaturated vegetable oil, was shown to be well metabolized in liver.