The Benefits of Red Palm Oil

African Oil Palm (Elaeis guineensis) bearing fruit.
African Oil Palm (Elaeis guineensis) bearing fruit. Konrad Wothe/ImageBroker/Getty Images

Red palm oil is a natural substance typically sourced from the fruit of the African oil palm tree (Elaeis guineensis). Often consumed as a food, red palm oil is also available in dietary supplement form. Proponents suggest that regular intake of red palm oil can offer a variety of health benefits.

Rich in essential fatty acids, red palm oil contains a number of anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants (including lycopene, beta-carotene, and several forms of vitamin E).

Uses for Red Palm Oil

In alternative medicine, red palm oil is said to improve heart health by lowering cholesterol levels and aiding in the prevention of atherosclerosis. By protecting against the buildup of plaque inside your arteries, red palm oil is thought to fight heart disease and stroke.

In addition, red palm oil is often touted in alternative medicine as a natural remedy for the following health conditions:

Red palm oil is also purported to support weight loss, stimulate the immune system, enhance fertility, offer anti-aging benefits, promote detox, and protect against some forms of cancer (including breast cancer and lung cancer), according to some alternative medicine proponents.

Benefits of Red Palm Oil

Although there's currently a lack of clinical trials testing the potential health benefits of supplementing your diet with red palm oil, preliminary research shows that red palm oil may offer some beneficial effects.

For instance, several animal-based studies published in recent years suggest that red palm oil may have certain cardiovascular benefits. These include a rat-based study published in Lipids in Health and Disease in 2011, which found that red palm oil supplementation helped shield the animals from ischemia (a condition marked by decreased blood flow due to blockage of the blood vessels).

Additionally, a rat-based study published in the journal Andrologia in 2012 found that enriching the animals' diets with red palm oil helped reduce oxidative stress-related damage to sperm and help preserve fertility.


Keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established. You can get further tips on using supplements here.

Alternatives to Red Palm Oil

Several other plant-derived oils may offer health-enhancing effects when added to your diet. For example, there's some evidence that regular intake of flaxseed oil may help fight atherosclerosis and lower your blood pressure. What's more, some preliminary research shows that consuming coconut oil may help keep your cholesterol in check and reduce abdominal fat.

For more help in keeping your arteries clear of blockages, it's crucial to avoid smoking, exercise regularly, follow a balanced diet, and maintain a healthy weight.

If you're seeking a natural approach to boosting fertility, some studies indicate that undergoing acupuncture for fertility may help promote ovulation and improve the outcome of in vitro fertilization

Environmental Concerns

Since conventional production of red palm oil often involves clear-cutting of rainforests (and, in turn, the destruction of habitat for many endangered species), it's important to seek out companies who practice sustainable production of red palm oil.

Where to Find It

Available for purchase online, red palm oil is sold in many natural-food stores and other stores specializing in natural products.

Using Red Palm Oil for Health

Due to the limited research (and the environmental concerns), it's too soon to recommend red palm oil as a treatment for any condition. It's also important to note that self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering using it for any health purpose, make sure to consult your physician first.


Aboua YG, Brooks N, Mahfouz RZ, Agarwal A, du Plessis SS. "A red palm oil diet can reduce the effects of oxidative stress on rat spermatozoa." Andrologia. 2012 May;44 Suppl 1:32-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0272.2010.01133.x.

Esterhuyse AJ, du Toit EF, Benadè AJ, van Rooyen J. "Dietary red palm oil improves reperfusion cardiac function in the isolated perfused rat heart of animals fed a high cholesterol diet." Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2005 Mar;72(3):153-61.

Oguntibeju OO, Esterhuyse AJ, Truter EJ. "Red palm oil: nutritional, physiological and therapeutic roles in improving human wellbeing and quality of life." Br J Biomed Sci. 2009;66(4):216-22.

Oyewole OE, Amosu AM. "Public health nutrition concerns on consumption of red palm-oil (RPO): the scientific facts from literature." Afr J Med Med Sci. 2010 Dec;39(4):255-62; discussion 263-5.

Szucs G, Bester DJ, Kupai K, Csont T, Csonka C, Esterhuyse AJ, Ferdinandy P, Van Rooyen J. "Dietary red palm oil supplementation decreases infarct size in cholesterol fed rats." Lipids Health Dis. 2011 Jun 20;10:103.

Zhang J, Wang CR, Xue AN, Ge KY. "Effects of red palm oil on serum lipids and plasma carotenoids level in Chinese male adults." Biomed Environ Sci. 2003 Dec;16(4):348-54.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

Continue Reading