LISTEN: ‘Counter with science’ – Prof Ima Nirwana Soelaiman on anti-palm oil campaigns and tocotrienols’ health benefits

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Malaysia Tocotrienol Palm oil

Research has shown that the rich tocotrienol content in palm oil could help prevent osteoporosis, with a leading researcher telling us that those who campaign against the industry need to focus on ‘science and evidence’.

Dr Ima Nirwana Soelaiman, the professor of pharmacology at the University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), is the guest of our eighth NutraChampion podcast. 

Prof Dr Ima
Prof Dr Ima Nirwana Soelaiman

A pioneer of tocotrienol and osteoporosis research, she has published over 200 papers, with about 80% of them analysing the compound’s effect on bone health.

Recounting her research journey, she said she had to thank her mentor, Professor Dato' Dr Khalid bin Abdul Kadir, who inspired her to dive deep into the topic. This was at a point when research mainly focused on palm oil's benefits on cardiovascular health.

Her research has been categorised as high priority by the Malaysian government, especially when the palm oil sector was under attack in the US and was pitched against the soybean oil.

Prof Ima has also worked with researchers from other countries, such as the US, to assesses palm oils' benefits.

In response to anti-palm oil campaigns that have persisted till today, she stressed the need for scientific evidence to enhance the debate.

“I strongly feel that counter arguments should be scientific and evidence-based,” ​she said.

Listen to find out more about her life and career.

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