Oil Lowers Body Fat, But Don’t Rub It In

Eating fat is usually not very helpful when it comes to losing weight. According to a researcher at Ohio State University, however, two natural oils that contain “good fats” can melt away pounds in postmenopausal obese women with type 2 diabetes.

Unlike your standard saturated fat-laden burger, the oils in question, safflower oil and conjugated linoleic acid, are composed of beneficial polyunsaturated fatty acids. The active ingredient in the safflower oil is linoleic acid. Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is found in some meat and dairy products, was originally studied because of its anti-carcinogenic (cancer fighting) and antioxidant properties. It has the same chemical formula as linoleic acid, but a different chemical structure. (They’re like two twins, each with the same set of limbs, but one twin has a leg where his arm should be, and vice versa.)

During the study, half of the 35 participants took pills containing linoleic acid for 16 weeks, followed by a four-week “washout period” to clear the supplement from the body, and then 16 weeks of taking CLA. The other half took the CLA first and the linoleic acid second. After the four months of linoleic acid, the women had lost  2.3 to 3.5 pounds of fat in their trunk area, lowered their blood sugar, and increased their muscle tissue. During the four months of CLA, they reduced their total body fat by 2.6 to 4.2 pounds and lowered their body mass index (BMI). Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) was used to determine the amount of body fat, as opposed to lean mass, that was present before, during, and after treatment.  DXA is used routinely to measure bone density.

In a OSU press release, Martha Belury, a professor of nutrition at OSU who led the study, noted that “making this subtle change in the intake of high-quality dietary fats in an effort to alter body composition is both achievable and affordable to postmenopausal women in the United States who are managing the difficult combination of obesity and diabetes.”

Animal studies Belury’s studies using animals suggest that CLA helps the body burn fat to create heat. Although CLA did not affect the level of hormones involved in burning fat to produce heat, linoleic acid did increase levels of a hormone called adiponectin, which may have lead to an increased ability to burn through fat in the diet.

Source: Press release, OSU.edu

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