Good Fats Research

Metabolic Syndrome

A study published in Obesity examined 101 adults with abdominal obesity and at least one other risk factor for metabolic syndrome. Participants followed isocaloric diets (50% carbohydrate, 15% protein, 35% fat) and consumed a smoothie twice daily containing one of five types of oil: canola, high oleic canola, high oleic canola with DHA, a corn and safflower oil blend, and a flax and safflower oil blend. Subjects were randomly assigned to a sequence of the five oils. Each diet was followed for four weeks, with a two- to four-week rest period between each diet, during which participants followed their usual diets. Results showed a significant decrease in abdominal fat when subjects consumed smoothies prepared with canola and high oleic canola oil (high in monounsaturated fats). Reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure were also associated with these oils, and decreased triglycerides were tied to high oleic canola oil.

Metabolic Syndrome consists of multiple conditions that are risk factors for cardiovascular disease including high blood pressure, abnormal blood glucose, a high waist circumference, and abnormal blood cholesterol levels. The syndrome is increasing in prevalence along with obesity and diabetes and is becoming more of a public health concern.

A meta-analysis examined the results of 50 research studies to determine the effect the Mediterranean diet has on metabolic syndrome and its associated conditions. The studies compared a low fat diet, a standard diet and a Mediterranean diet, and the data show the Mediterranean diet had beneficial effects on MS as a whole and was also associated with improved waist circumference, increased HDL cholesterol levels, lower triglyceride levels, lower systolic blood pressure, and lower fasting glucose levels.

The positive effects on waistline are especially important, considering that abdominal fat tissue plays a prominent role in metabolism and the development of MS. Additionally, the benefits of adhering to a Mediterranean diet were even stronger when physical activity was added into the equation.

Research examining more than one hundred participants at risk for metabolic syndrome shows canola and high-oleic canola oils can lower abdominal fat when used in place of other selected oil blends in a diet for weight maintenance.

Presented at the American Heart Association’s EPI/NPAM 2013 meeting, the study indicates participants were given a calorie-controlled, heart-healthy diet with a daily smoothie containing one of five study oils. Results showed that consuming canola or high-oleic canola oils on a daily basis for four weeks lowered belly fat by 1.6%. Abdominal fat was unchanged by the other three oils, which included a flax/safflower oil blend, corn/safflower oil blend and high-oleic canola oil enriched with DHA. The data indicates that simple dietary changes, such as using a high monounsaturated fat vegetable oil, may reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome and therefore, heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

Results from a study published in 2015 (Nutrition Journal) show consuming tree nuts was associated with better measures of body composition as well as reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. Researchers used NHANES 2005–2010 data to examine the relationship between tree nut consumption and health risks in 14,386 adults. Tree nuts included almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts. Results showed consuming at least ¼ ounce of tree nuts per day was associated with lower Body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, systolic blood pressure, insulin resistance and higher HDL cholesterol, compared with less than ¼ ounce daily.