Coconut and palm oils which were the major sources of dietary fats for centuries in most of West Africa have been branded as unhealthy highly saturated fats. Their consumption has been peddled to supposedly raise the level of blood cholesterol, thereby increasing the risk of coronary heart disease. This adverse view has led to a reduction in their consumption in West Africa and they have been substituted for imported vegetable oils. Recent information however, indicates some beneficial effects of these oils particularly their roles in nutrition, health and national development. There is the need for a better understanding of their effects on health, nutritional status and national development. This paper therefore attempts to review the roles which coconut and palm oils play in these respects in developing countries, as a means of advocating for a return to their use in local diets.
Funding: None declared.
Keywords: Palm oil; coconut oil; health; national development; nutrition.