Cooking oil can shed pounds

by JAMES CHAPMAN, Daily Mail

It sounds like a dieter's impossible dream - a cooking oil that can help you lose weight - yet it could be in the shops within a year.

A blend of tropical oils developed by scientists has been shown to heighten the metabolism, lower cholesterol and, in some cases, help take off the pounds.

In trials, some volunteers lost up to a pound a month, suggesting someone using the oil for a year could shed almost a stone in excess weight.

The product is the brainchild of Professor Peter Jones and a team from McGill University's School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition in Montreal.

Christened Functional Oil, it is made up of 77 per cent tropical oils, 6 per cent olive oil, 12 per cent coconut oil and 5 per cent flaxseed oil.

Professor Jones has just completed two clinical trials of the product, which is made of fats called medium chain triglycerides rather than the long chain triglycerides found in traditional oils.

The trials were conducted over two periods of 27 days on men and women who were around 25 pounds overweight.

Professor Jones explained: 'The way the Functional Oil works in fighting fat is simple. It is directed towards the liver for combustion and burned as energy.

'The oil is not stored in the body as fat and heightens the metabolism, which is a key in maintaining a healthy body weight.'

Because their bodies burned, rather than absorbed the new oil, male volunteers taking part in the study lost an average of one pound over a month.

While women volunteers appeared to have increased metabolic rates, however, they did not experience any measurable reduction in body fat.

Both sexes benefited from a significant reduction in cholesterol-levels. 'The Functional Oil lowered cholesterol levels by over 13 per cent,' said Professor Jones.

Olive oil alone, which reduces levels by 4.5 per cent, was considered the best cholesterol fighter until now.

The volunteers ate what the professor called a typical North American diet - 'what you'd find in a greasy spoon'.

Breakfast could include french toast with maple syrup while dinner might be spaghetti with meat sauce and bread.

Some recent studies have suggested tropical oils - such as palm kernel or palm oil - may clog the arteries because they are high in saturated fats.

But Professor Jones said the particular blend in Functional Oil was beneficial because it contained a cholesterol-fighting compound called phytosterols.

'Our participants experienced no side effects,' he added. ' Tropical oils, with phytosterols, are actually fat-busters.'

There was also some ' provocative data' from the trials, said the professor, suggesting oils rich in medium chain triglycerides could actually reduce appetite.

The U.S. pharmaceutical company Forbes Medi-Tech, which holds the patent to Functional Oil, is conducting further tests on the product before putting it on supermarket shelves.

Professor Jones said he hoped the oil would prove all the average person on a Western diet needs to maintain a healthy body weight.

'Controlling obesity is all about engineering a balance between calorie intake and calorie burn,' he explained.

'It doesn't take much - 100 to 200 extra calories per day over a decade - to make you obese.'

He is reporting on the studies in four medical journals - the International Journal of Obesity, the Journal of Nutrition, Obesity Research, and Metabolism.

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