Monounsaturated Fats Reduce Risk of Metabolic Syndrome

oil_obesityIf you need to lose some belly fat, you may want to add canola oil to your diet, according to a new study. Researchers found that consuming oils high in monounsaturated fat, specifically canola oil or high-oleic canola oil, can reduce abdominal fat and the risk of metabolic syndrome when used instead of some other oil blends.

The study involved 121 people at risk for developing metabolic syndrome, which is a group of risk factors including increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, abdominal obesity or abnormal cholesterol levels.  Metabolic syndrome raises the risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke. The participants received a daily smoothie containing 40 grams of one of five oils (canola, high-oleic canola, flax/safflower oil blend, corn/safflower oil blend, and high-oleic canola oil enriched with omega-3 DHA.)

The results showed that those who received canola or high-oleic canola oils lowered their belly fat 1.6 percent more than those who consumed a flax/safflower oil blend. For those who had the corn/safflower oil blend and enriched high-oleic canola oil, abdominal fat was unchanged. Both the flax/safflower and corn/safflower oil blends were low in monounsaturated fat, and the study author explained that the monounsaturated fats in the vegetable oils seem to reduce belly fat, which in turn may decrease metabolic syndrome risk factors.  The findings support expert recommendations that metabolic risks can be decreased through changes to diet.  By replacing other oils with vegetable oils high in monounsaturated fat, you may be able to take a step in reducing the risk of metabolic syndrome and therefore heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

Metabolic syndrome is extremely common – affecting about one in three adults in the U.S., according to the American Heart Association.  Lack of activity and being overweight or obese are key contributors to the syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a primary health concern that bariatric surgery addresses;  one or  more of the factors of metabolic syndrome like high blood pressure or cholesterol, are improved in the majority of people who have bariatric surgery.

Dr. Gregory Walton, expert weight loss surgeon in Oklahoma,  said “Metabolic syndrome is the focus of many studies and articles as of late. With one-third of Americans afflicted, resolution would mean a dramatic health improvement for society (and importantly, a significant reduction is health care costs). Abdominal (or belly) fat is associated with a higher rate of weight related complications: diabetes, high cholesterol, stroke, heart disease, and obstructive sleep apnea. Unfortunately, to date, no treatment other than bariatric surgery results in reliable long-term weight loss. If monounsaturated fats can reduce “belly” fat over the long haul, it would be a welcome addition to the armamentarium against metabolic syndrome and diabetes.”

Monounsaturated fats are common to foods in Mediterranean diets. In addition to the canola oil in this study, olive oil is primarily monounsaturated, as are olives, avocados, and cashews.

Related Reading:

Lap-Band surgery for obesity can be effective in resolving metabolic syndrome in the long-term, here.

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