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Safflower oil daily could curb heart disease

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Safflower oil and heart disease

Safflower oil improves several important measures of health

Daily consumption of the common household oil can help curb cardiovascular disease. Safflower oil was found in a new analysis to raise good cholesterol levels, help keep blood sugar in check and improve insulin sensitivity and inflammation in postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes.

Past studies shows safflower oil benefits

Eighteen months ago researchers published findings that safflower oil promotes weight loss in diabetics. In the study, researchers compared safflower oil and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) that both contain polyunsaturated fat.

In the study, safflower oil supplements, helped women lose 2-4 pounds of belly fat and lowered blood sugar levels an average of 11 to 19 points over 16 weeks. CLA helped with overall weight loss.

New findings show safflower oil reduces risk of heart disease

The new study shows taking about 1 2/3 teaspoons of safflower oil daily is a safe way to help reduce heart disease risk. The researchers from Ohio State University performed a second analysis of data from the previous clinical trial.

This time the researchers noted safflower oil had distinct cardiovascular benefits not found with CLA. In the analysis, safflower oil improved almost all risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome that leads to heart disease.

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Specific improvements associated with the oil included increased insulin sensitivity, .64 percent drop in HbA1C that shows the presence of high blood glucose over a period of months and a 17.5 percent decrease in C-reactive protein that is a marker for inflammation and linked to higher risk of heart attack.

In the first study, women's average blood sugar levels ranged from 129 to 148 after supplementing with safflower oil for 16 weeks. After 14 weeks, beneficial HDL cholesterol levels increased 14 percent. The hormone adiponectin that keeps blood sugars levels also increased.

Martha Belury, professor of human nutrition at Ohio State University and lead author of the study said, "I believe these findings suggest that people consciously make sure they get a serving of healthy oil in their diets each day– maybe an oil and vinegar dressing on a salad, or some oil for cooking. And this recommendation can be extended to everyone."

The women, who were postmenopausal, obese and diabetic, were not asked to change their diets. Safflower oil supplementation amounted to 9.8 percent of daily calories the researchers note falls within federal guidelines for vegetable oil consumption.

The findings show incorporating safflower oil into the daily diet could reduce the risk of heart disease and was shown in a previous study to help obese women with type 2 diabetes lose weight and belly fat.

Newer information

Canadian researchers are now challenging the notion that safflower oil is heart healthy and they are asking for food labeling changes.

Updated November 15, 2013