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Vegetable Oils Don’t Cut Heart Disease Risk
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Vegetable Oils Don’t Cut Heart Disease Risk

A research team led by scientists at the UNC School of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health has unearthed more evidence that casts doubt on the traditional “heart healthy” practice of replacing butter and other saturated fats with corn oil and other vegetable oils high in linoleic acid.
The findings, reported in the British Medical Journal, suggest that using vegetable oils high in linoleic acid might be worse than using butter when it comes to preventing heart disease, though more research needs to be done on that front.
This latest evidence comes from an analysis of previously unpublished data of a large controlled trial conducted in Minnesota nearly 50 years ago, as well as a broader analysis of published data from all similar trials of this dietary intervention, Science reported.
The analyses show that interventions using linoleic acid-rich oils failed to reduce heart disease and overall mortality even though the intervention reduced cholesterol levels.
In the Minnesota study, participants who had greater reduction in serum cholesterol had higher rather than lower risk of death.
“Altogether, this research leads us to conclude that incomplete publication of important data has contributed to the overestimation of benefits -- and the underestimation of potential risks -- of replacing saturated fat with vegetable oils rich in linoleic acid,” said co-first author Daisy Zamora, PhD, a researcher in the Department of Psychiatry at the UNC School of Medicine.
Along with corn oil, linoleic acid-rich oils include safflower oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, and cottonseed oil.
Why linoleic acid-containing oils would lower cholesterol but worsen or at least fail to reduce heart attack risk is a subject of ongoing research and lively debate.
Some studies suggest that these oils can, under certain circumstances, cause inflammation, a known risk factor for heart disease. There is also some evidence they can promote atherosclerosis when the oils are chemically modified in a process called oxidation

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