Prepared Foods August 8, 2005 enewsletter

A study from The Pennsylvania State University demonstrates that using a trans fat-free sunflower oil provides heart-healthy foods.

Substituting two tablespoons per day of NuSun sunflower oil for saturated fat significantly lowered total cholesterol by nearly 5% and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) by nearly 6%. Subjects on the NuSun diet lowered blood cholesterol levels compared with the average American diet, whereas a diet with olive oil did not.

The article "Balance of Unsaturated Fatty Acids is Important to a Cholesterol-Lowering Diet: Comparison of Mid-Oleic Sunflower Oils and Olive Oil on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors" is published in the July 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

In this controlled clinical study involving 31 men and women with elevated cholesterol levels, study participants followed three diets: sunflower oil, olive oil, and the average American diet. The diets including sunflower oil and olive oil had similar dietary fat (30%) and cholesterol profiles, while the average American diet was slightly higher in both total (34%) and saturated fat, though still low in total cholesterol. The sunflower oil was used for frying and as an ingredient in foods such as muffins, sauces, spreads, granola bars and salad dressings.

Head researcher Penny Kris-Etherton, Penn State University, hypothesized that it is the unique balance of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids in this sunflower oil that provides the cholesterol lowering benefits. Kris-Etherton says, "This study demonstrates that the substitution of just a small amount of a healthy oil … for saturated or trans fat can significantly impact heart health."

Source: Heart Disease Weekly