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One simple diet change that could melt belly fat

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
What oil is best for melting belly fat?

If you are using vegetable oil for cooking or dressings consider switching to canola oil that Penn State researchers found could lower diabetes and heart risks by reducing belly fat.


Fat that accumulates around the waist and in the belly is considered more dangerous for poor health. Hormones are secreted in belly fat that are different than what goes on in fat that accumulates in the thighs or buttocks.

The right oils in the diet keep us metabolically healthy

American and Canadian researchers teamed up to study the benefits of canola oil; compared to other oil blends.

Penny Kris-Etherton, Distinguished Professor of Nutrition, Penn State said in a press release that monounsaturated fats in the oil appear to lower the risk of metabolic syndrome that can lead to chronic illness. The chance of metabolic syndrome increases with age and higher body mass index.

About metabolic syndrome

The National Institutes of Health lists extra weight in the upper or middle body, or central obesity, as one of the biggest risk factors for metabolic syndrome. The second biggest risk is insulin resistance, or inability of the body to effectively use the hormone insulin to control blood sugar levels.

Metabolic syndrome includes the following. If you have 3 or more of conditions, you are at higher risk for heart disease, diabetes and stroke:

• Waist circumference 40 inches or more for men and 35 inches or more for women
• Low ‘good’ or HDL cholesterol (for men, under 40 mg/dL and women under 50 mg/dL)
• Triglycerides higher than 150 mg/dL
• Blood pressure equal to 130/85 or higher
• Fasting blood sugar 100 mg/dL or above

The good news is you can control you risk factors for metabolic syndrome that leads to disease with exercise, changing your diet and weight loss. The new study shows switching from other oils to canola oil could help improve your health.

The study

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Researchers studied the oil because it contains high levels of monounsaturated fat that differs from saturated fat found in meats and dairy products such as milk, butter and cheese.

Monounsaturated fats are primarily those that are liquid at room temperature. Nuts, seeds, avocado, peanut butter, olive, sesame, canola and sunflower oils are all good sources of monounsaturated fats.

In the study, 121 participants were given a smoother that contained 40 grams of one of five oils over 4-weeks. The goal was to provide a heart-healthy diet for weight maintenance of 2,000 calories a day.

All of the participants had five risk factors for metabolic syndrome from increased belly fat including above average blood sugar, low HDL cholesterol and higher blood pressure and triglycerides.

The researchers compared the effect of the following oil blends for eliminating belly fat. Flax/safflower and corn/safflower oils are both low in monounsatured fat.

• Flax/safflower blend
• Corn/safflower oil blend
• High-oleic canola oil enriched with an algal source of the omega-3 DHA

Consuming canola or high-oleic canola oil for 4 weeks reduced belly fat by 1.6 percent, compared to the flax/safflower oil blend.

Corn/safflower oil blend and the algal enriched high-oleic canola oil had no effect on belly fat.

Olive oil that is more costly than canola oil is also shown in a recent study to aid weight loss.

Kris-Etherton says more studies are needed to understand why a diet high in monounsaturated fats leads to belly fat loss. She adds the study shows a simple switch to vegetables oils high in the fats could help lower a person’s risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

This page updated June 7, 2013