"These results are likely due to the monounsaturated or 'good' fat that make up a large part of canola and high-oleic canola oil," noted Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD, RD, Distinguished Professor of Nutrition at Penn State University who oversaw the study. "This adds to the growing body of research that monounsaturated fat may help to decrease abdominal fat and improve markers of cardiovascular health as well."
Researchers from three research centers, the University of Manitoba and Laval University in Canada, and Penn State University in the United States, conducted a clinical trial with 101 participants to compare the effects of five different types of oil on abdominal fat, including canola oil, high-oleic canola oil, high-oleic canola oil with DHA, a corn and safflower oil blend, and flax and safflower oil blend. The oils were consumed in smoothies twice a day as part of the participants' daily diet.
The subjects were randomized to a sequence of the five diets, which they followed for four weeks at a time with a period of four weeks in between each diet during which they followed their usual diet. All of the participants had central obesity and at least one additional risk factor for metabolic syndrome—high blood pressure, blood sugar, triglycerides or low "good" HDL cholesterol.
At the end of the two-year study, researchers saw a significant decrease in abdominal fat mass in those on the canola and high-oleic canola oil diets. In addition, they found a decrease in blood pressure linked to consumption of these oils.
The research was one of five studies selected for publication in a special section of the November 2016 Obesity journal to provide the latest insights into preventing and treating obesity through innovative research designs. The results of this study are part of the Canola Oil Multicentre Intervention Trial (COMIT) and were initially presented at the American Heart Association's EPI/NPAM Scientific Sessions in New Orleans in 2013.
"Reducing abdominal fat is a great first step to improving the other risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome, including a decrease in blood pressure, blood sugar and triglycerides, and an increase in HDL cholesterol," said Dr. Kris-Etherton. "This evidence suggests that using an everyday oil predominantly made up of monounsaturated fat, like canola oil, could help to have a significant impact on public health."
Classic canola oil not only contains mostly monounsaturated fat (63g/100g fat), but it also has the least saturated fat (7g/100g fat) and most plant-based omega-3 fat (9g/100g fat) of any common cooking oil. High oleic canola oil has 73 grams monounsaturated fat per 100 grams fat and is widely used in restaurants, institutions and packaged food products.
For more information on the health benefits of canola oil, visit www.canolainfo.org.