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Study Reports Polyunsaturated Oil is a Healthier Option

Update Date: Oct 15, 2014 04:03 PM EDT

Polyunsaturated oil is a healthier option than saturated oil, a new study reported. Researchers reported that people who ate muffins made with polyunsaturated oil had better blood cholesterol profiles whereas people who ate muffins made with saturated oil gained more weight.

For this study, the researchers recruited 39 adults with an average age of 27. For seven weeks, the participants had to eat three muffins per day. Some of the participants ate muffins made with unsaturated sunflower oil while others ate muffins made with saturated palm oil. The diet was designed so that the participants would gain around three percent of their body weight. The researchers added or subtracted the participants' muffin intake depending on how much weight they gained.

Overall, both groups of participants had an average weight gain of 2.2 percent. However, the participants who ate the unsaturated fat muffins had lower levels of "bad" cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) and a lower ratio of total cholesterol to "good" cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein). This group also had other signs that indicated improved cardiovascular health.

"Even in early adulthood, it is important to avoid high-calorie foods and weight gain, but also it is important to consume sufficient amounts of polyunsaturated fats from non-hydrogenated vegetable oils," said Ulf Risérus, M.D., Ph.D., principal investigator and associate professor of Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism at Uppsala University, in Uppsala, Sweden. "The lowering of the cholesterol/HDL cholesterol ratio by polyunsaturated fat is of special interest because recent large studies have shown this ratio seems to predict heart disease risk even better than LDL levels alone."

The researchers concluded that gaining weight from eating a diet with polyunsaturated fat was more metabolically favorable in comparison to eating a diet with saturated fat. The team believes that the effects of consuming a saturated fat diet are reversible. The researchers plan on studying this in a new trial.

"Studies using these oils in weight-stable participants have demonstrated that the adverse effects on LDL seems to disappear shortly after they stop consuming foods with saturated fats, and this may also be the case here," Risérus said, reported in the press release. "Such data would be important to encourage people who gained weight to lose their weight and lower their metabolic risk."

The study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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