As a general rule, you can't target weight loss to specific body regions, but the monounsaturated fatty acids in canola oil seem to target abdominal fat.
It’s not unusual to pack on the pounds at middle age or even earlier. In fact, developing a “spare tire” around the middle is often considered just a natural part of growing older. But researchers have learned this particular type and location of fat can have far more serious health consequences than not being able to fit into your jeans or needing a bigger belt.
Although it may sound strange at first, eating more of a specific type of fat can actually help you lose your worrisome spare tire. The key is including canola oil in your diet. And the resulting loss of a significant amount of fat around your middle can occur in as little as four weeks, according to Penny M. Kris-Etherton, PhD, a professor of nutrition at Penn State.
Canola is related to the same family of plants that includes mustard, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. Canola seeds are harvested and crushed to create canola oil, which is high in monounsaturated fatty acids – a type of fat known to reduce LDL, heart disease and stroke, according the American Heart Association.
In recent years, studies have shown canola oil has other health benefits, too, including improving liver function in some people. It can also lower the risk of metabolic syndrome, which is marked by high blood pressure along with elevated blood sugar levels, low HDL (known as “good” cholesterol), and abdominal obesity.
"Visceral, or abdominal, fat increases the risk for cardiovascular disease, and is also associated with increased risk for conditions such as metabolic syndrome and diabetes," said Kris-Etherton, who headed a recent study into the fat reducing properties of canola oil. "Monounsaturated fats in canola oil decrease this fat that has adverse health effects."
Kris-Etherton and her research team tested a variety of different canola oil versus vegetable oil blends so see if adding them to the diets of 101 research volunteers affected their body fat. All of the participants had excess fat around their waists and were either at risk for, or had already developed, metabolic syndrome.
For four weeks, the volunteers were randomly assigned to follow a diet that included two smoothies a day containing about two tablespoons of various types of oil (canola oil or blends of corn and safflower oil or flax and safflower oil). Then the research subjects went off their diets for another four weeks before starting up again with a different oil in their smoothies.
After just a month of the canola-rich diets, the volunteers had lost a quarter pound of belly fat around their middles. What’s more, the researchers documented the weight from the participants’ “deflated” spare tires didn’t redistribute to other parts of their bodies. It was gone.
She suggests incorporating canola oil versus vegetable oil into your daily diet by using it to sauté foods and in baked dishes. You can also add some to veggie or fruit smoothies and use it for the basis of salad dressings.
For more information on canola, including a recipe of the month featuring canola oil, visit the US Canola Association website.
March 14, 2017
Janet O’Dell, RN