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Research suggests benefits of canola oil for people with Type 2 diabetes

June 14, 2014

TORONTO — Canola is Canada’s oil, and new research from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to sug­gests it should also be one of the oils of choice for peo­ple with Type 2 dia­betes.

David Jenk­ins, a Pro­fes­sor in the Depart­ments of Nutri­tion­al Sci­ences and Med­i­cine, com­pared peo­ple with Type 2 dia­betes who ate either a low glycemic index diet that includ­ed bread made with canola oil, or a whole wheat diet known to reduce the risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease.

His study, pub­lished in the jour­nal Dia­betes Care, found that those on the canola bread diet expe­ri­enced both a reduc­tion in blood glu­cose lev­els and a sig­nif­i­cant reduc­tion in LDL, or “bad,” cho­les­terol.

Even more excit­ing, he said, was the find­ing that the canola bread diet seemed to have the most sig­nif­i­cant impact on peo­ple who need­ed help the most — those whose HbA1c test mea­sur­ing blood glu­cose over the pre­vi­ous two or three months was high­est.

Jenk­ins, who is head of the Clin­i­cal Nutri­tion and Risk Fac­tor Mod­i­fi­ca­tion Cen­tre at St. Michael’s Hos­pi­tal, said the reduc­tion in LDL cho­les­terol observed in his study of 141 peo­ple could trans­late into a sev­en per cent reduc­tion in car­dio­vas­cu­lar events. He said the ben­e­fit could also be trans­lat­ed into an addi­tion­al 20mg dose of one of the cho­les­terol-reduc­ing drugs known as statins — a dou­bling of a stan­dard dose.

The word canola is a con­trac­tion of Cana­da and ola, mean­ing oil. It was devel­oped from rape­seed at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Man­i­to­ba in the 1970s. Canola oil con­tains only sev­en per cent sat­u­rat­ed fat, less than half that of olive oil, wide­ly tout­ed for its health ben­e­fits.

Dr. Jenk­ins said anoth­er inter­est­ing find­ing of the study was that patients on the whole wheat diet seemed to have bet­ter blood flow after 12 weeks than those on the canola bread diet, as mea­sured by the EndoPat test that uses a cuff on the arm sim­i­lar to a blood pres­sure test. He said the sig­nif­i­cance of that find­ing was not entire­ly clear, but this pos­i­tive result may be an indi­ca­tion of why whole wheat foods have con­sis­tent­ly been shown to reduce the risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease.

Dr. Jenk­ins and his col­leagues devel­oped the con­cept of the glycemic index in the ear­ly 1980s as a way of explain­ing how dif­fer­ent car­bo­hy­drates affect blood glu­cose and to find out which foods were best for peo­ple with dia­betes. High GI foods — such as white bread, most break­fast cere­als, pota­toes and rice — pro­duce a large rise in blood glu­cose and insulin, which may dam­age eyes, kid­neys and heart. The car­bo­hy­drates in low GI foods — includ­ing pas­ta, beans, lentils, berries, apples and cer­tain whole grains such as bar­ley and oats — are bro­ken down more slow­ly, so that peo­ple get more gen­tle rais­es in blood glu­cose and insulin and so get less tis­sue dam­age to eyes and kid­neys etc.

Oth­er stud­ies have linked low GI diets with a reduc­tion in both dia­betes and car­dio­vas­cu­lar events, and have shown monoun­sat­u­rat­ed fats such as canola and olive oil reduced the risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease. Dr. Jenk­ins said the com­bi­na­tion of a low GI diet sup­ple­ment­ed with canola oil had not been test­ed before on peo­ple with Type 2 dia­betes.

This research was fund­ed by the Canola Coun­cil of Cana­da, Agri­cul­ture and Agri-Food Cana­da, Loblaw Com­pa­nies, and the Cana­da Research Chairs Pro­gram.


Media Con­tact:

Leslie Shep­herd
Man­ag­er, Media Strat­e­gy,
Phone: 416–864-6094 or 647–300-1753
St. Michael’s Hos­pi­tal
Inspired Care. Inspir­ing Sci­ence.
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