What is palmitic acid? 

  • Palmitic acid is the most common saturated fatty acid in the human diet.
  • Palmitic acid is not considered an essential fatty acid because the body can make its own from glucose (sugar).  

Why does the body need palmitic acid? 

Which foods have palmitic acid?  

  • Palmitic acid is found in butter, cheese, beef, eggs, cow’s milk and goat’s milk and avocados.
  • Dietary oils containing palmitic acid include palm oil, olive oil and coconut oil
  • Beeswax and cocoa butter also contain palmitic acid. It is popularly used to help keep skin smooth. 
  • Palmitic acid is used in baked goods to produce fluffier cakes and creamier fillings. 

Does palmitic acid raise good cholesterol?  

  • Malaysian researchers found that, after two hours, meals prepared with palmitic acid and with lauric/myristic acid blends both increased HDL (good) levels significantly, by 7.6 percent and 14 percent respectively, compared with meals prepared with stearic acid, which appeared to depress the levels of HDL. 

Is palmitic acid found in human breast milk? 

What are the benefits of palmitic acid to infants? 

  • Palmitic acid is fundamental to infant nutrition, considered necessary in the first years of life. 
  • Studies show that palmitic acid in breast milk and infant formula supports infant development by positively influencing fatty acid metabolism, increasing calcium absorption, increased bone strength and stool consistency, and having a positive effect on gut microbiome development. 

Why is palmitic acid sometimes fed to dairy cows? 

  • Dairy cows typically need more dietary fat immediately after giving birth. There is an increased demand for glucose, to be used for energy. Palmitic acid helps satisfy the extra energy demand without having an elevated need for glucose, which helps avoid the development of glucose intolerance in dairy cows.
  • Palmitic acid increases milk production and milk fat in dairy cows during the early lactation phase (immediately after birth) when it might otherwise be lower due to lack of energy.