A research study1 out of Penn State looked into the effects of canola and high-oleic-acid canola oils on abdominal fat mass in a diet administered over 4 weeks. The subjects were men and women between 20-65 years old with a BMI between 22 and 44. They also had central obesity, meaning a bigger waist then most (men ≥94 cm; women ≥80 cm). They also had to have at least one criterion for metabolic syndrome (MetS) such as, high blood pressure, diabetes, or elevated cholesterol levels.
The researchers evaluated 5 different vegetable oil blends in 101 participants’ diets. Over the course of 4 weeks, the subjects were randomly assigned each of the treatment oil diets: conventional canola, high-oleic acid canola, high-oleic acid canola with DHA (a type of omega-3 fatty acid), corn/safflower and flax/safflower. After each diet cycle, the subjects would take 4 weeks off, go back to their normal diets, and start again.
As for how the subjects consumed their canola oils, they had 2 smoothies during the day. The amount of oil was determined by the subject’s energy requirements. For someone on a 3,000-calorie diet they would be allocated 60g of the treatment oil per day, equivalent to about 18% of his or her total dietary energy. Each smoothie would have 100g of orange sherbet, 100g of non-fat milk, 100g of frozen unsweetened strawberries and 30g of canola oil. A 100g is equivalent to roughly 3.5 oz and 30g is approximately two tablespoons. The canola oil never went over the subject’s daily calorie requirements.
“Visceral, or abdominal, fat increases the risk for cardiovascular disease,” says Penny M. Kris-Etherton, distinguished professor of nutrition, Penn State. “Monounsaturated fats in canola oil decrease this fat that has adverse health effects.”
Professor Kris-Etherton’s researchers discovered that after a 4 weeks of being on a diet that included canola oil, the subjects about a quarter of a pound less bell fat than before getting on the study’s diet regimens. The fat was not redistributed to other parts of the body, either.
“As a general rule, you can’t target weight loss to specific body regions,” said Kris-Etherton. “But monounsaturated fatty acids seem to specifically target abdominal fat.”
Canola oil is high in monounsaturated fatty acids, which has been shown to have an impact on body composition and, as shown in this case, particularly so for people with obesity. Simply put, when the subjects consumed conventional canola oil or high-oleic acid canola oil for just 4 weeks, they lost their belly fat.
So, you shouldn’t go wrong adding canola oils to your diet: put it in smoothies, on salads, in baking, and when you’re sautéing foods. According to this research, it won’t take long to notice a difference.
1. Liu, Xiaoran, Penny M. Kris-Etherton, Sheila G. West, Benoît Lamarche, David J.A. Jenkins, Jennifer A. Fleming, Cindy E. McCrea, et al. “Effects of Canola and High-Oleic-Acid Canola Oils on Abdominal Fat Mass in Individuals with Central Obesity.” Obesity 24, no. 11 (November 1, 2016): 2261–68.