Latest research reveals that phytonutrients are capable of altering gene expression through acting on complex interactions in various biochemical and cellular pathways. This interactive interplay between phytonutrients and gene expression has given birth to a new field of frontier science known as nutrigenomics. Nutrigenomics allows for deeper understanding of the mechanism of action of phytonutrients on health whether acting in silo or synergistically as a complex mixture. Through this new field of research, scientists have now affirmed that the food contains many biological active substances which affect gene expression and is capable of shifting the balance between health and disease states.
One of the richest sources of phytonutrients can be found in palm oil (Elaeis guineensis). Palm oil, other than containing fatty acids, it is also endowed with a wide range of health benefiting phytonutrients such as tocols, carotenoids, polyphenols, phytosterols and coenzyme Q10. In this review, concerted efforts will be made to summarise recent studies on the health benefits and the molecular mode of action of these dietary compounds found in palm oil. Further efforts will be made to exemplify how nutrigenomics through its comprehensive scientific validations can act as a catalyst to move palm oil up the agriculture value chain.
* Malaysian Palm Oil Board, 6 Persiaran Institusi, Bandar Baru Bangi, 43000 Kajang, Selangor, Malaysia. E-mail:
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