People's intake of fatty acids -- which have been linked to cardiovascular disease and other conditions -- can be substantially affected by changing the type of vegetable oil they use, according to researchers at the University of Illinois and Pennsylvania State University.
Substituting canola oil and canola-based margarine for vegetable oils and spreads, such as corn, cottonseed and soybean, "increases compliance with dietary recommendations for saturated fatty acid, monounsaturated fatty acid and alpha-linolenic acid," the researchers write in their study of data from nearly 9,000 U.S. adults.
According to the researchers, switching to canola-based products 100 percent of the time would decrease adults' saturated fatty acid intake by up to 9.4 percent; increase their intake of monounsaturated fatty acid by 27.6 percent; and increase their alpha-linolenic acid intakes by73 percent. Total consumption of calories, total fat and cholesterol would not change.
Government and health organizations have issued guidelines and recommendations for fatty acid and cholesterol consumption to lower people's risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States, and other health problems.
According to the researchers: "Increasing substitution of canola oil for selected vegetable oils and of canola oil-based margarine for other margarines and butter in the diet of U.S. adults would increase the percentage of Americans in compliance with all current fatty acid-based dietary recommendations," except the Institute of Medicine's recommended Adequate Intake of linoleic acid, which is necessary for cell structure and making hormones.
"The results of this study show that fatty acid intake can be influenced substantially through a simple recommendation to change the type of vegetable oil used at the table and in cooking," the researchers conclude.
The study was supported by the U.S. Canola Association.
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