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Vegetable Oil Really Is Good for the Heart, Study

Update Date: Jun 08, 2013 05:18 PM EDT
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Vegetable oil can boost heart health, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Missouri found that vegetable oils, like those from soy, corn and canola, are a significant source of calories and are rich in linoleic acid (LA). Previous studies revealed that linoleic acid helps reduce cholesterol and heart disease risk. 

Linoleic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid that is present in most vegetable oils.  Researchers said this essential nutrient usually makes up 50 percent of more of most vegetable oils. Previous studies revealed that LA helps reduce cholesterol and heart disease risk. 

Researchers said some experts argue that Americans are consuming too much of a good thing. However, the latest study found no associated between vegetable oil consumption and circulating indicators of inflammation, which are often linked to diseases like heart disease, cancer, asthma and arthritis. 

Past animals studies revealed that a diet rich in LA can promote inflammation.  However, lead researcher Kevin Fritsche said that humans respond to LA differently.

"In the field of nutrition and health, animals aren't people," Fritsche, an MU professor of animal science and nutrition in the Division of Animal Sciences, said in a news release. "We're not saying that you should just go out and consume vegetable oil freely. However, our evidence does suggest that you can achieve a heart-healthy diet by using soybean, canola, corn and sunflower oils instead of animal-based fats when cooking."

Fritsche and his team reviewed 15 clinical trials that studied nearly 500 adults.  The participants consumed different forms of fats.  The findings revealed no evidence that a diet high in linoleic acid had any links to inflammation in the body.

"Some previous studies have shown that inflammation, which is an immune response in the body, can occur when certain fats are consumed," Fritsche said. "We've come to realize that this inflammation, which can occur anywhere in the body, can cause or promote chronic diseases. We know that animal fats can encourage inflammation, but in this study, we've been able to rule out vegetable oil as a cause," he added.

Researchers said the findings suggest that people should continue to follow the current recommendations from the Institute of Medicine and the American Heart Association to use vegetable oil when cooking.  People should also consume between two and four teaspoons of vegetables oil to reach the necessary amount of linoleic acid to keep the heart health.

"Consumers are regularly bombarded with warnings about what foods they should avoid," Fritsche said.

"While limiting the overall fat intake is also part of the current nutrition recommendations, we hope people will feel comfortable cooking with vegetable oils," he concluded.

The findings are published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

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