Sometimes combinations are even better than an individual. Think Lennon and McCartney, Calvin and Hobbes, chocolate and peanut butter – make that low-sugar, made-with-canola-oil chocolate and peanut butter. A new study suggests the tag team of a diet low in simple sugars and high in healthy fats, like canola oil, help people with type two diabetes control their blood sugar and their cardiac risk.
"We know that olive oil has a good pedigree among clinicians but canola oil has a good pedigree too," lead author Dr. David Jenkins, from the University of Toronto, told the news service.
"We thought using canola oil might be a good way to hit the heart disease and the high glucose problem,” said Jenkins.
Jenkins and colleagues recruited 141 diabetics, all of whom were taking meds to help lower their blood sugar. None reported smoking, drinking excessively or having other illnesses such as heart disease, liver disease or cancer.
Half the people were directed to add four and a half slices of canola-enriched whole wheat bread per day to their diet, and focus on eating foods with a low glycemic index. Each day, the other group had to eat seven and a half slices of whole wheat bread that hadn’t had the canola boost – with an equal calorie count. They were also told to avoid white flour.
Over the next three months, blood glucose levels dropped in both groups, but the drop was about one and a half times bigger among those on the canola oil-enriched diet. Improvements in other measures of heart disease risk generally favored the canola diet too.
While getting extra canola oil allowed people with type 2 diabetes to improve their glycemic control, whole grains seemed to benefit blood flow, the team reports in Diabetes Care.
Another recent diabetes study suggested that regulating intake of vitamin D may also help control the disease.