It sounds too good to be true, but Canadian scientists say they've come up with a cooking oil that can help fight fat and lower cholesterol! They call it the "functional oil."
It's a mix of tropical oils like coconut and flaxseed oils, along with plant compounds called Phytosterols. The nutrition researchers say this particular oil mix is not stored in the body as fat, but is instead burned like energy.
In a small study of 40 men and women who were at least 25 pounds overweight, the functional oil lowered cholesterol levels by more than 13%. But this doesn't sound fair, for some reason, the functional oil helped everyone lower cholesterol levels, but only the men actually lost weight, about a pound a month.
The scientists caution, while the results look promising, the oil is not a miracle diet aid. They see it as a way to help people maintain a healthy weight, by boosting the body's ability to fight off extra fat.
Researchers say most people are surprised that the concoction includes tropical oils which have been labeled as "bad" fat. The scientists say adding the plant compounds make the difference and help fight fat.
The participants in the study had a typical American diet diet including a breakfast of French toast with maple syrup, and had dinners of spaghetti with meat sauce. Researchers stress that more testing is needed before functional oil can make its way to the supermarket.
A bio-pharmaceutical company, Forbes Medi-Tech, helped sponsor the study and holds a patent on the oil. The research was led by McGill University's School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition in Montreal, Canada and has been published in four medical journals, including the International Journal of Obesity and Metabolism.