Recipe for heart health? Canola oil reduces risk in diabetics

Can canola oil help diabetics lower their risks for cardiovascular disease? A research team from the University of Toronto believes it can.

Working to find a means of controlling both glycemic index and risk factors for cardiovascular disease, researchers used a canola oil-enriched whole wheat bread supplement along with dietary suggestions on a group of 70 diabetics against a control group of 71 diabetics given a non-canola oil enriched bread and standard dietary suggestions over 12 weeks.

They posited that increasing vegetable oil calories would reduce glycemia by decreasing carbohydrate content and by delaying gastric emptying. Long term, increasing vegetable oil intake was expected to reduce serum lipids.

Patients experienced a 0.34 mmol/L reduction in total cholesterol, 0.25 mmol/L reduction in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, 0.03 mmol/L drop in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and a 0.14 mmol/L reduction to triglycerides. In addition, greater HbA1c benefit was seen in patients with higher blood pressure at the start.

Diabetics with a blood pressure higher than 130 mmHg were found to have a 0.41 percent difference in HbA1c, more than five times as much as the reduction seen in patients with a systolic blood pressure lower than 130 mmHg. Glycemic load and glycemic index were reduced in the test diet with an 86 percent compliance rate.

“By design, the test diet resulted in significantly greater increases in MUFA [monounsaturated fatty acids] and  ALA [α-linolenic acid] intake and corresponding lower carbohydrate intake, and hence GL [glycemic load], relative to the control diet,” wrote David J. A. Jenkins, MD, PhD, MSc, of the nutritional sciences department, and colleagues..

The treatment potential for diabetics at risk for cardiovascular disease is promising, since balancing both comorbid conditions can be difficult for patients. “These data support the view that patients at greatest risk benefit most,” Jenkins et al wrote. Additional studies are needed to test this effect. 

The study was published online June 14 in Diabetes Care.