Is Palm Oil Low FODMAP?

Medically Reviewed by Onikepe Adegbola, MD PhD, Dipl IBLM

Is palm oil low FODMAP?

You might wonder, what are FODMAPs?

FODMAP is short for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols — a group of carbohydrates found in foods possibly contributing to symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. A FODMAP diet is an elimination-based diet to identify foods and ingredients that trigger IBS and other digestive problems.

The FODMAP diet is a thoughtfully devised strategy for managing and reducing symptoms associated with irritable bowels. It works by restricting the intake of certain foods.   FODMAPs are non-absorbable sugars that draw water into the intestines. This leads to "watery diarrhea," bloating, and flatulence among people who suffer from the disorder.

What are the different types of fats, and how much should you consume?

Understanding the different types of fats and their impact on the body can be daunting. To help you, we've put together a quick guide to help you make informed decisions about fats and oils.

First, not all fats are bad. Fats are essential for your body's proper functioning: they provide energy, aid in hormone production, and regulate inflammation. You need fats to absorb and transport the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.

There are four primary dietary fats: saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated (omega-3 and omega-6), and trans fats. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that people consume appropriate amounts of unsaturated fat (between 20%-35% of calories from fat) as part of a balanced diet.

Whether solid or liquid at room temperature, all fats come from the same primary sources: animals and plants. Fats can be divided into saturated and unsaturated fats, depending on how many hydrogen atoms are attached to carbon atoms in their chemical structure.

Saturated fats have all their available bond sites filled with hydrogen atoms, while unsaturated fats have double bonds between carbon atoms. This difference makes the molecules looser, so they do not stack neatly together like butter or lard. Liquid unsaturated fats are oils.

While all fats provide essential nutrients, differences in the quality and quantity of fatty acids impact health outcomes when consumed.

Among the different types of unsaturated fatty acids (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), polyunsaturates contain essential fatty acids which cannot be synthesized by humans and must therefore be consumed in our diets (linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid). 

Is palm oil low FODMAP?

Oils are fats, not carbohydrates. FODMAPs are carbohydrates. So yes, considering fats contain no FODMAPs, palm oil is low FODMAP. 

Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil derived from the mesocarp (reddish pulp) of the fruit of oil palms, primarily the African oil palm Elaeis guineensis.

Palm oil, like all fats, is composed of fatty acids esterified with glycerol. It has an incredibly high concentration of saturated fat, specifically the 16-carbon saturated fatty acid, palmitic acid, to which it gives its name.

Monounsaturated oleic acid is also a significant constituent of palm oil. Unrefined palm oil is an essential source of tocotrienol, part of the vitamin E family.

Are fats and oils high in FODMAPs?

Since palm oil is low in FODMAPs, it is safe for most people to consume. As per the Monash app, 1 tablespoon (18 g) per meal of palm oil is recommended based on dietary guidelines.

Fats and oils do not contain any carbohydrates, so they are not considered high FODMAP foods. However, some people with IBS find that consuming large amounts of fat can trigger symptoms like bloating and stomach cramps. If you realize that certain fats and oils are triggering your symptoms, you may wish to track how much you consume in a day.

The general principle of a low FODMAP diet is to reduce or eliminate these poorly absorbed sugars from your diet for a while, then reintroduce each sugar one at a time to find out which ones are causing your gut symptoms.

How can a nutritionist help in maintaining a low FODMAP diet?

A low FODMAP diet is a therapeutic nutritional intervention used to treat IBS. The first step to begin the diet is eliminating all high FODMAP foods from your diet for approximately 2-6 weeks. After this elimination period, you can slowly reintroduce foods back into your diet to see which symptoms may be triggered.

A low FODMAP diet can be challenging, as many foods are eliminated due to their high FODMAP content. These foods include whole grains, legumes, apples, and yogurt.

A nutritionist can help you navigate through the elimination diet and help you adhere to it. Working with a nutritionist will help you obtain proper nutrition during the elimination phase by ensuring that adequate amounts of calories and micronutrients are consumed while avoiding trigger foods.

After the elimination phase is complete, your nutritionist can work with you to determine which high FODMAP foods are triggering your symptoms and which ones are safe to consume in moderate amounts. 

A low FODMAP diet requires meal planning and careful attention to detail when reading food labels at the grocery store or ordering food at a restaurant. A nutritionist can teach you how to identify trigger foods and make sure you obtain adequate nutrients while following the low FODMAP diet.

Wrapping up

Palm oil is a vegetable oil that is derived from the fruit of the palm tree. It is a popular cooking oil and has a high smoke point, which makes it ideal for frying and baking.

Palm oil is low FODMAP because as a fat, it does not contain any of the FODMAPs that are difficult to digest, such as galactans and oligosaccharides.. This makes palm oil an acceptable option for individuals with gluten sensitivity or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) because it does not cause symptoms when consumed in small amounts. Palm oil is found in many types of foods and food-based products. As with any other food, moderation and variety are the keys to healthy eating, including the moderate consumption of palm oil. 

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