Nov. 11--A Canadian study has challenged the use of corn and safflower oils as
healthy substitutes for saturated animal fats, saying the oils may increase the
risk of heart disease.
In a paper published Monday in the Canadian Medical Assn. Journal, researchers
concluded that polyunsaturated vegetable oils that were rich in omega-6 linoleic
acid, but relatively poor in omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid, were not associated
with beneficial effects on heart health.
Specifically, authors said a review of recent research suggested that though
omega-6 linoleic acid lowered serum cholesterol levels, it also seemed to
increase the risk of coronary artery diseases.
Study authors Richard Bazinet, a professor of nutrition at the University of
Toronto, and Dr. Michael Chu, a heart surgeon at the London Cardiac Institute in
Ontario, said it was unclear why the oils increased health risks. However, they
said it might have to do with the chemical process known as oxidation.
"The detrimental effects of linoleic acid were seen in participants who were
smokers and those who consumed alcohol, people likely to be under increased
oxidative stress," the authors wrote.
In Canada, corn and safflower oil are used in foods such as mayonnaise, creamy
dressings, margarine and chips.
The federal Food Directorate allows the food industry to label products with
corn and safflower oil as healthy replacements for saturated fats. Study authors
are now asking the government to reconsider its labeling eligibility.
The authors note that canola oil and soybean oil, which are consumed to a far
greater degree, are associated with health benefits. Those vegetable oils
contain more omega-3 alpha-linoleic acids, which lower cholesterol and lower the
risk of coronary artery disease.
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