Despite the many plants that have oil bearing seeds, only a few have commercial importance as edible oils. Of these, soya bean, palm, rape seed and sunflower seed predominate and supply some 60% of world supplies. Palm oil, which has long held second place to soya bean oil, is predicted soon to become the dominant oil. The development of palm oil to this pre-eminent position has occurred largely in Malaysia. There, the Palm Oil Research Institute (PORIM) has pioneered many technical developments and the Palm Oil Promotion Council (MPOPC) has provided the world with information on these developments and on the properties and uses of palm oil.

A strength of the Malaysian research and promotional initiatives has been their reliance on advice from the international scientific community. The PORIM research programme is advice by panels of international scientists. Independent scientists world-wide have provided nutrition advice to MPOPC through a network of regional advisory committees ensuring a firm science base for the promotional efforts. As a contribution to science base, MPOPC invited Dr Michael Gurr, a member of the European Nutrition Advisory Committee, Visiting Professor in the University of Reading, UK and private nutrition consultant, to write a booklet that provided a complete overview of current scientific knowledge of the role of fats in human nutrition. This is not, therefore, a book about palm oil specially but about lipid nutrition generally. However, such is the importance now of palm oil as a contributor to foods and diets all over the world, that its contribution to lipid nut rition clearly emerges from these pages. The Promotional Council hopes that, as well as providing information on palm oil, this little book will provide valuable educational background for students world-wide on the essentials of lipid nutrition.

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