Adding canola oil to your diet might help shrink stubborn abdominal fat in as little as four weeks, according to a report from Pennsylvania State University.
Canola oil is high in monounsaturated fatty acids, which are known to have a healthy impact on body composition, especially in people who are obese. The study found that adding canola oil to someone’s diet can specifically help reduce fat in their midsection.
“As a general rule, you can’t target weight loss to specific body regions,” said Penny M. Kris-Etherton, a professor of nutrition at Penn State, in the report. “But monounsaturated fatty acids seem to specifically target abdominal fat.”
All 101 participants in the study had abdominal obesity and were at risk for or had metabolic syndrome, a combination of disorders that include obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar.
Through a controlled study, the researchers tested the effects of five different vegetable oil blends in the participants’ diets. For four weeks, each participant was assigned a random oil cocktail that consisted of conventional canola, high-oleic acid canola, high-oleic acid canola with DHA (a type of omega-3 fatty acid), corn/safflower, and flax/safflower. After four weeks of consuming the oil concoctions, the participants were given a four week break.
The people who were given canola oil lost a quarter pound of abdominal fat. Researchers also found that the fat from the participants’ midsections was not redistributed to other areas of their bodies, such as the hips or butt.
This is not the first time canola oil has been linked to serious health benefits. A recent JAMA Internal Medicine study found that adding monounsaturated fats in your diet from canola oil and olive oil can reduce the risk of death from diseases like heart disease, cancer, and dementia by 13 percent.
Danielle Tarasiuk is a multimedia journalist based in Los Angeles. Her work has been published on AllDay.com, Yahoo! Sports, KCET, and NPR-affiliate stations KPCC and KCRW. She’s a proud Sarah Lawrence College and USC Annenberg alumn.