Researchers from Pennsylvania State University have found that the key to lowering blood cholesterol may be in maintaining a balance between two healthy forms of dietary fat.
The study found that a diet rich in a new type of sunflower oil, which contains high concentrations of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats was an important factor when it came to lowering ìbadî LDL cholesterol in the 31 study participants.
Researchers conclude that it is a balance between monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat that had the most health benefits in this study. Vegetable oils differ in their concentrations of the two types of unsaturated fat. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat, but has lower polyunsaturated fatty acids and more saturated fat than many other vegetable oils, including canola, safflower and sunflower oils. The sunflower oil used in this study contained both of these fats and therefore showed the greatest benefits in terms of lowering LDL cholesterol.
The findings suggest the importance of replacing saturated fats in the diet with a "balance" of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Saturated fat is found mainly in animal products, including meat and higher-fat dairy products. Unsaturated fatty acids, which are either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated, are found in foods like vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and fatty fish.
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