A typical North American consumes approximately 3 or more tablespoons of vegetable oil each day. Vegetable oils, like those from soy, corn and canola, are a significant source of calories and are rich in linoleic acid (LA), which is an essential nutrient.
Since the 1970s, researchers have known that LA helps reduce blood cholesterol levels, and for decades, scientists have known that consuming LA can help lower the risk of heart disease. However, some experts have been claiming recently that Americans might be getting too much of a good thing. Yet a new study from the University of Missouri contradicts that claim.
In the study, researchers at the University of Missouri and the University of Illinois found that no link exists between vegetable oil consumption and circulating indicators of inflammation that are often associated with diseases such as heart disease, cancer, asthma and arthritis. While earlier animal studies have shown that a diet rich in LA can promote inflammation, the researchers say that humans respond to LA differently.
Linoleic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid that is a major component of most vegetable oils. This fatty acid is an essential nutrient and comprising 50 percent or more of most vegetable oils.
The researchers conducted one of the most thorough studies on LA questioning whether this fatty acid promotes inflammation in humans. The team reviewed 15 clinical trials that studied nearly 500 adults as they consumed various forms of fats, including vegetable oils. The researchers could find no evidence that a diet high in linoleic acid had any links to inflammation in the body.
Some previous studies have shown that inflammation, which is an immune response in the body, can occur when certain fats are consumed. "We've come to realize that this inflammation, which can occur anywhere in the body, can cause or promote chronic diseases. We know that animal fats can encourage inflammation, but in this study, we've been able to rule out vegetable oil as a cause", said a researcher.
The researchers say that it is important to continue following the current recommendations to use vegetable oil when cooking and consume between two and four tablespoons of vegetable oil daily to reach the necessary amount of linoleic acid needed for a heart-healthy diet.
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