Two Dietary Oils, Two Sets of Benefits


lose weightA study comparing how two common dietary oil supplements -- safflower oil and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) -- affect body composition suggests that both oils can lower body fat in obese postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes.

In the study, 16 weeks of supplementation with safflower oil reduced fat in the trunk area, lowered blood sugar and increased muscle tissue in the participants.

Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation for the same length of time, on the other hand, reduced total body fat and lowered the women's body mass index (BMI), a common health measure of weight relative to height.

All of the women in the study took one oil for 16 weeks, followed by the other oil for an equal amount of time.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Safflower oil, which is typically used as a cooking oil, and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a compound naturally found in meat and dairy from grass-fed animals, are composed primarily of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs).

While I have long advocated getting plenty of CLA in your diet -- along with helping your body rid itself of fat, CLA contains many anti-cancer properties -- I have also stated that we need to decrease our total intake of omega-6 fats, including those in safflower oil.

This recommendation was based partly on the fact that omega-6 PUFAs are the building blocks of several types of inflammatory molecules, which might harm your heart and cause other illnesses by promoting inflammation in your body, coupled with the fact that most omega-6 fats in the American diet are highly processed and typically harmful.

Well, after hearing a lecture by Life-Systems Engineering Scientist, Brian Peskin, which emphasized the importance of certain PUFAs, and subsequently having dinner with Brian and reading his book The Hidden Story of Cancer, I have recently begun to rethink some of my positions on this topic.

Certain Omega-6 Fats May be Healthy

There is no question you need to eliminate MUCH of the omega-6 fats in your diet, but these are the processed fats that have been refined and heated and become virtually useless, and even worse, very harmful.

Brian’s theory, based on his study of Dr. Warburg's work from the 1930s, is that we should have about equal or twice as many parent omega-6 fats (linoleic acid, or LA) as parent omega-3 fats (alpha linolenic acid, or ALA). This is still a relatively small amount of oil, and only amounts to about 3 grams or four 750-mg capsules per day for a 150-pound adult.

It will take me some time to thoroughly evaluate this theory, and when I conclude my analysis I will report my findings to you.

In the meantime, you can likely benefit from one sound piece of advice, and that is to make sure your diet contains plenty of high-quality, and unprocessed, dietary fats.

Make Sure the PUFAs in Your Diet are Not Processed

If you want to take advantage of the health benefits of dietary fats like CLA and certain PUFAs, I do not recommend that you take CLA or other PUFA supplements of any form. As with most nutrients, it is better to get them from food than from synthetic supplements.

In the case of CLA, animal products like meat and dairy from grass-fed animals are rich in natural and healthy CLA. So simply increasing your intake of grass-fed animal products will increase your intake of this important fatty acid. This includes not only grass-fed beef but also dairy products from grass-fed cows like raw milk, raw butter and raw milk cheese.

If you simply start eating more commercially raised meat that is in most grocery stores, your health will not benefit because these animals were not fed a healthy diet. Grass-fed animals, on the other hand, have from three to five times more CLA than grain-fed animals.

At the same time, if you want to increase your intake of omega-6 oils, it is essential to use only ORGANIC, unprocessed oils. Ideally this would be in the form of their original seed precursors like safflower, sunflower, pumpkin, or sesame seeds.

Unfortunately, the primary sources of omega-6 in the U.S. are:

  • Corn oil
  • Canola oil
  • Soy oil
  • Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats
  • Margarine
  • Shortening

You will want to avoid this entire list of over-processed, damaged and genetically modified oils, and instead look for safflower, sunflower, pumpkin or sesame seed oils that meet the following requirements:

  1. Minimally processed: Look for expeller-pressed or cold-pressed oils, which are less likely to be damaged.
  1. Not refined: Refined oils are stripped of flavor, color and nutrients. Look for unrefined versions, which will appear cloudy and have a stronger flavor than refined oils.
  1. Bottled in dark-colored glass: Because omega-6 oils are easily damaged by heat and light, high-quality oils will be stored in dark-tinted bottles. You’ll also want to choose one packaged in glass, as plastic containers can potentially leach toxic compounds into the oil.

What Other Types of Oils Should be Included in a Healthy Diet?

The standard American diet (SAD) is almost devoid of healthy omega-3 fats, except for certain types of fish -- and fish can no longer be recommended as a safe source of omega-3s due to high levels of mercury and other toxic contaminations.

This is why I highly recommend increasing your omega-3 intake by supplementing with a high quality animal-based supplement like krill oil (while at the same time reducing your intake of the processed omega-6 fats mentioned above).

Other acceptable and beneficial oils to include in your diet are:

  • High-quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Avocados and high-quality avocado oil
  • Organic butter, or better yet grass-fed, raw organic butter