Researchers may have identified a way to lower blood cholesterol,according to the results of a study reported in the Journalof the American Dietetic Association (July 2005). They foundthat a diet rich in NuSun—a new type of sunflower oil—beat oliveoil when it came to reducing levels of low-density lipoprotein(LDL; "bad") cholesterol in 31 participants. The sunflower oil hada relatively high concentration of both polyunsaturated fatty acidsand monounsaturated fats.
For the study, the participants followed each of three 4-weekdiets: one heavy in foods with sunflower oil, another rich in oliveoil, and one typical of the "American" diet. The oil-based dietshad equal amounts of saturated fat, but the sunflower diet had agreater balance between mono-and polyunsaturated fats. TheAmerican diet contained more saturated and total fat, comparedwith the other 2 diets.
The results of the study showed a 6% drop in LDL levelsamong participants following the sunflower-oil diet, comparedwith their time on the American diet. The diet rich in olive oildemonstrated no major effect on LDL levels, however. "Withinthe context of a moderate-fat diet, it is becoming clear that a mixtureof unsaturated fatty acids provides the greatest health benefits,"wrote the investigators.