Changing cooking oil may benefit postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes

A daily dose of safflower cooking oil may help postmenopausal women who suffer from type 2 diabetes improve many of the symptoms of their condition, according to a new study from Ohio State University researchers.

The study showed that women who add as little as one and two-third teaspoons of the cooking oil to their diets may improve their cholesterol levels, blood sugar test scores, insulin sensitivity and inflammation. These symptoms of type 2 diabetes are among the leading causes of heart disease among individuals with the condition.

For the study, researchers examined the results of a previous investigation that asked a group of diabetic postmenopausal women to supplement their diet with the cooking oil. The original researchers took blood samples from the participants throughout the course of the study.

The examination of the data showed that participants made marked improvements to their condition after just 16 weeks of supplementation. Insulin sensitivity increased by 2.7 percent, C-reactive protein - a marker of inflammation - decreased by 17.5 percent, blood sugar levels improved by between 11 and 19 points and good cholesterol increased by 14 percent.

The researchers said that safflower oil is rich in a polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) known as linoleic acid. This substance has been shown in previous investigations to support heart health. It is most likely behind the improvements in the condition of diabetics noted by the study, they said.

"A small change in eating behavior to alter the fatty acid content of the diet might improve metabolic measures in people already consuming what is considered to be an adequate amount of dietary linoleic acid," said Martha Belury, who led the study. "What is needed in our diet is PUFAs to help with cardiovascular disease, the number one killer of men and women in this country."