Canola Oil Cuts Belly Fat, Metabolic Syndrome Risk

Canola oil might be an easy, goof-proof way to reduce your belly fat, which in turn cuts your risk of developing metabolic syndrome, a precursor to diabetes. That’s the encouraging result of a new study by a team of American and Canadian researchers, which was recently described at an American Heart Association (AHA) conference in New Orleans by Penn State nutrition professor Penny Kris-Etherton and her colleagues.

Canola is a domesticated form of two species of Brassica, which you can think of as something like a wild mustard. Yes, it’s that beautiful yellow flower originally found in those plants with the ugly name of rapeseed. Because Canada took the lead in developing the plant, they modestly named it canola for “Canadian oil, low acid.”

Therefore, you probably won’t be too surprised to learn that three Canadian universities, as well as America’s Penn State, participated in the study of 121 people considered at risk for metabolic syndrome. Each subject was randomly given a smoothie each day that contained 40 grams of one of five different oils.

Even though canola and other oils all have the same amount of calories, the people who got the canola or high-oleic canola oils in their smoothie actually lowered their belly fat a tad by 1.6 percent. People who got corn/safflower or flax/safflower oil didn’t see any benefit. Kris-Etherton pointed out that switching to canola where you might normally use another vegetable oil would be an easy change to make.

Besides being rather unattractive, too much fat around the waist has been linked to higher risks of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, so it’s worth trying to battle the bulge.

Now, you may be a cynical person who says, “Well, of course, a mostly Canadian study is going to prove that their product is hot stuff,” but I think I like the way this lady’s mind works.

In a 2007 interview, she said, “You really can eat chocolate every day.”

If it’s easy, practical, and tastes good, I say go for it. Canola oil might not be another chocolate, but it’s in my kitchen. What about yours?

[canola oil field photo Jean-Marie Hullot via Fotopedia and Creative Commons]