Oil palm fruit is widely used for edible oils, but the health benefits of other components are relatively unknown. We examined if consuming a polyphenol-rich extract of the fruit, from a vegetation by-product of oil processing, which also contains fibre, has gastro-intestinal benefits in rats on a Western-type diet (WD). The oil palm preparation (OPP) was added to food (OPP-F) or drinking water (OPP-D) to provide 50 mg of gallic acid equivalents (GAE)/d and compared to effects of high amylose maize starch (HAMS; 30%) in the diet or green tea extract (GT; 50 mg GAE/d) in drinking water over 4 wk. OPP treatments induced some significant effects (P < 0.05) compared to WD. OPP-D increased caecal digesta mass, caecal digesta concentrations of total SCFA, acetate and propionate (OPP-F increased caecal butyrate concentration), the numbers of mucus-producing goblet cells per colonic crypt, and caecal digesta abundance of some bacteria which may provide benefit to the host (Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Akkermansia muciniphila and Ruminococcus gnavus). HAMS induced similar effects but with greater potency and had a broader impact on microbe populations, whereas GT had minimal impacts. These results suggest dietary OPP may benefit the large bowel.
Keywords: diet; fibre; gastrointestinal tract; microbes; oil palm; polyphenols; short chain fatty acids.