Effect of palm olein oil in a moderate-fat diet on plasma lipoprotein profile and aortic atherosclerosis in non-human primates

Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2002;11 Suppl 7:S424-32. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-6047.11.s.7.8.x.


Several studies have reported on the effect of palm olein oil (PO; palmitic acid content approximately 38%) incorporation into the diet on blood cholesterol concentration. Information on the effect of PO on atherosclerosis is, however, lacking. In vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) concen-trations can be modulated by the type and amount of fat in the diet. The vervet is a proven model for both the type and composition of human atherosclerotic lesions. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of PO in a moderate-fat moderate-cholesterol diet (MFD) on plasma lipoproteins and the progression of atherosclerosis in a non-human primate model after 25.5 months of dietary exposure. Thirty adult male vervets, never exposed to a Western-type atherogenic diet, were stabilised on a MFD (28%E fat; 26 mg cholesterol/1000 kJ) with a polyunsaturated to saturated fatty acid (P/S) ratio of 0.4 for six weeks. Baseline LDL-C, high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-C and bodyweight were used to stratify the vervets into three comparable groups of 10 each. One group continued with the MFD in which 11.0%E was derived from lard (AF). In the other two groups, the AF was substituted isocalorically with either sunflower oil (SO) or PO. Plasma lipids were measured at 6-monthly intervals and atherosclerosis was assessed in the aorta and in five peripheral arteries after 25.5 months of dietary exposure. The frequency of atherosclerosis in peripheral arteries and aortas was low. PO, relative to SO and AF, significantly reduced the risk for developing early lesions in peripheral arteries (P = 0.0277 and P = 0.0038, respectively) and, relative to AF, in aortas (P = 0.0335). The cholesterolaemic effect of MFD-PO was not significantly different from MFD-SO and MFD-AF. However, at 24 months the plasma total cholesterol concentration with MFD-AF was significantly higher than with MFD-SO (P = 0.0256). It is confirmed that a MFD with PO is no different from AF or SO in its cholesterolaemic effect. The anti-atherogenic efficacy of a MFD with PO, relative to SO and AF, was demonstrated in a non-human primate model of atherogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aorta / pathology
  • Arteriosclerosis / etiology
  • Arteriosclerosis / metabolism*
  • Arteriosclerosis / pathology
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood*
  • Diet, Atherogenic
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / pharmacology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Lipoproteins / blood
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Palm Oil
  • Plant Oils / administration & dosage
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*
  • Random Allocation
  • Sunflower Oil


  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
  • Lipoproteins
  • Plant Oils
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Palm Oil