Adding about 1 2/3 teaspoons of safflower oil into a diet can boost cardiovascular health in obese postmenopausal women who have type 2 diabetes, according to a new study published in the journal Clinical Nutrition.
Researchers at Ohio State University found a daily dose of safflower oil for 16 weeks improved good cholesterol, blood sugar, insulin sensitivity and inflammation in obese postmenopausal women who had type 2 diabetes.
"The women in the study didn't replace what was in their diet with safflower oil. They added it to what they were already doing. And that says to me that certain people need a little more of this type of good fat—particularly when they're obese women who already have diabetes," said lead author Martha Belury. "I believe these findings suggest that people consciously make sure they get a serving of healthy oil in their diets each day—maybe oil and vinegar dressing on a salad, or some oil for cooking. And this recommendation can be extended to everyone."
The researchers performed a secondary analysis of data collected from a previous clinical trial that compared the effects of safflower oil and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) on obese postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes. In almost all cases, safflower oil supplementation improved metabolic measures while CLA did not show any effects for glycemic or lipid control. Sixteen weeks of CLA supplementation did reduce total body fat and lowered the women's body mass index (BMI), a common health measure of weight relative to height.
After 16 weeks nearly all of the women had an increase in insulin sensitivity of about 2.7 percent, a .64-percent decrease in a blood protein called HbA1C, and a 17.5-percent decrease in C-reactive protein.
Within 12 weeks, the safflower oil led to a 14-percent increase in HDL, or "good" cholesterol, as well as an increase in adiponectin, a hormone that regulates levels of blood sugar and fats and which influences insulin levels. Higher levels of adiponectin could be expected to increase the efficiency of dietary fat burning, Belury said.