Extra body fat is unhealthy, but extra body fat in the abdomen region may be deadly. Fat in this region is closer to your heart and other important organs, and has a higher chance of leading to serious health problems, such as cardiovascular disease. A new study has suggested that simply replacing your regular cooking oil with canola oil can help to reduce stomach fat in as little as four weeks.

Study participants who followed healthy diets that included canola oil had a quarter of a pound (.11Kg) less belly fat than they did before they started the diet. In addition, the researchers noted that the weight lost in the belly region was lost for good and not just redistributed to other areas of the body.

“As a general rule, you can't target weight loss to specific body regions," said study author and Penn State nutrition professor Penny M. Kris-Etherton, in a recent statement. "But monounsaturated fatty acids seem to specifically target abdominal fat." The researchers shared their findings at The Obesity Society's annual meeting on Wednesday. 

For their study, the team of scientists had 101 volunteers, all of which had abdominal obesity or increased waist circumference, drink two smoothies during the day that contained a specific treatment oil. For four weeks, the participants were randomly assigned to follow each of the treatment oil diets: conventional canola, high-oleic acid canola, high-oleic acid canola with DHA (a type of omega-3 fatty acid), corn/safflower and flax/safflower.

Each oil treatment was tailored to the participants' energy needs based on their weight, and did not exceed their daily calorie needs. In addition to the oil, each smoothie would then contain 100 grams of orange sherbet, 100 grams of non-fat milk, 100 grams of frozen unsweetened strawberries and 30 grams of canola oil.

Canola oil is a form of rapeseed oil that is specifically bred to be used in cooking oil. According to CanolaInfo.com, it has the least saturated fat of any common cooking oil. In fact, it has less than half the saturated fat of olive or soybean oil. While these quick results are promising, the team explained that more research is required to fully understand the long-term effects of adhering to a diet high in monounsaturated fatty acids such as canola oil.

Source: Kris-Etherton PM, Liu X, West SG, et al. The Obesity Society's Annual Scientific Meeting. 2016

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