Cottonseed Oil Lowers Cholesterol
Can adding cottonseed oil to your diet naturally reduce your cholesterol and triglyceride levels?
According to new study by University of Georgia researchers, high-fat diets enriched with cottonseed oil can indeed significantly improve cholesterol and lipid profiles.
Cottonseed Oil vs Olive Oil
The researchers worked with a group of 15 male participants aged 18–45 who were within healthy weight ranges.
They asked the participants to follow one of two versions of a high-fat diet, each of which included a particular component.
- In one version of the diet, the researchers used olive oil to enrich the meals.
- In the other, they used cottonseed oil instead.
All of the participants adhered to their assigned diet for a period of only 5 days.
After comparing the effects of the two diet regimens on the participants, the investigators found that those who had followed the cottonseed oil-enriched diet had lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Conversely, the participants who had followed the olive oil-enriched diet saw no significant changes.
Significant Change (In Only 5 Days)
“One of the reasons these results were so surprising is because of the magnitude of change observed with the cottonseed oil diet,” said Jamie Cooper, an associate professor in the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences’ department of foods and nutrition and the corresponding author of the journal article.
“To see this amount of change in such a short period of time is exciting,” she adds.
Participants showed an average decrease of 8 percent in total cholesterol on the cottonseed oil diet, along with a 15 percent decrease in low-density lipoprotein, or LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) and a 30 percent decrease in triglycerides.
This diet also increased high-density lipoproteins, or HDL (the “good” cholesterol) by 8 percent.
Cotton Seed Oil Burns Fat
Researchers suggested a fatty acid unique to cottonseed oil, dihydrosterculic acid, may help prevent the accumulation of triglycerides, a type of fat, in the body.
“By doing that, it pushes the body to burn more of that fat because it can’t store it properly, so you have less lipid and cholesterol accumulation,” Cooper said.
That mechanism, in addition to the high polyunsatured fat and omega-6 content of cottonseed oil, seems to be a key component to the beneficial effects on lipid profiles, Cooper said.
Researchers plan to expand the study to include older adults with high cholesterol as well as a longer feeding intervention.
Dietary Uses of Cottonseed Oil
Cottonseed oil is a cooking oil extracted from the seeds of cotton plants of various species, mainly Gossypium hirsutum and Gossypium herbaceum, that are grown for cotton fiber, animal feed, and oil.
Cottonseed oil is among the most common vegetable oils used in the US. Referred to as “America’s original vegetable oil,” it has been a part of the American diet since the 1800s and has been in high demand among consumers since then.
Cotton seed has a similar structure to other oil seeds such as sunflower seed, having an oil-bearing kernel surrounded by a hard outer hull; in processing, the oil is extracted from the kernel. Cottonseed oil is used for salad oil, mayonnaise, salad dressing, and similar products because of its flavor stability.
Cottonseed Oil Nutrition
Saturated fats are considered to be less healthy fats as they may contribute to heart disease.
The American Heart Association recommends choosing oils with less than four grams of saturated fat per tablespoon. Cottonseed oil provides just four grams of saturated fat per tablespoon or roughly 16 percent of your recommended daily intake.
You’ll also get 7 grams of polyunsaturated fat when you consume a tablespoon of cottonseed oil.
Polyunsaturated fat is liquid at room temperature and may boost heart health when you use it to replace less healthy fat (like saturated fat) in your diet.
There are two different kinds of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and cottonseed oil contains both of them.
According to USDA data, you’ll get 2 percent of your daily recommended intake of α-linolenic acid (ALA) omega-3 fatty acids and you’ll get 58 percent (7 grams) of your recommended daily intake of linoleic acid or omega-6 fatty acids.
There is a small amount of monounsaturated fat in cottonseed oil. Monounsaturated fats come primarily from plant sources, like avocado, nuts, or seeds.
Monounsaturated fatty acids, also called MUFAs, are believed to increase your HDL cholesterol or “good” cholesterol.
Health experts recommend that you replace less healthy fats (such as saturated fats and trans fats) with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fat.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that 15 to 20 percent of your caloric intake come from monounsaturated fatty acids.
Micronutrients in Cottonseed Oil
Cottonseed oil contributes vitamin E to your diet. You’ll get 5 milligrams or about 32 percent of your recommended daily intake when you consume one tablespoon of cottonseed oil.
Vitamin E, or alpha-tocopherol, plays an important role in cell metabolism and is believed to have anti-aging benefits. This important vitamin may also help to protect against certain diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, cataracts, and diabetes.
You’ll also get a small amount (just 3 micrograms, or 4 percent of your daily target) of vitamin K in a tablespoon of cottonseed oil. Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting functions.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids
When you consume cottonseed oil, you increase your intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, two types of polyunsaturated fat. Both omega-3 and omega-6 are essential fats, these are fats that must be consumed in the diet because your body does not produce them.
The omega-3 fatty acids in cottonseed oil help to reduce blood clotting and inflammation in the body and also may help dilate blood vessels and lower blood pressure.
The omega-6 in cottonseed oil helps to reduce your risk for heart disease and may also help to reduce your risk for cancer.
The small amount of monounsaturated fat in cottonseed oil also provides health benefits.
Research has shown that when you replace saturated fat with monounsaturated fat your risk for cardiovascular events or cardiovascular death is reduced.
In addition, studies have found that an increased intake of monounsaturated fat reduces the risk for all-cause mortality and stroke.
Oils and Fat
If you choose to include cottonseed oil in your diet it’s important to remember that this oil—like all oil—is fat.
Fats contribute nine calories per gram as opposed to four calories per gram for carbohydrates and protein.
So even though cottonseed oil is considered a healthy fat, you should still consume the oil in moderation in order to reach and maintain a healthy weight.
That said, there is still room to include cottonseed oil, even in a low-fat diet (I do).
Cooking With Cottonseed Oil
Cottonseed oil has a higher flash point than other types of healthy oil such as canola oil or olive oil or even safflower oil.
The flash point, or smoking point, is the temperature at which an oil begins to smoke fumes.
Because the smoking point of cottonseed oil is approximately 420°F (or 215°C), it is often used for frying, deep frying and other high heat cooking techniques.
Some say that it is the healthiest oil for frying because it contains at least some polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat.
Cottonseed oil can also be used for baking and in sweet treats; it has a neutral taste so that it can be used instead of other fats without changing the flavor of your favorite foods.
Suggested Cottonseed Oil Brand
This 96 oz. jug of 100% Natural Cottonseed Oil from Nut-Ola is the best-rated cottonseed oil on Amazon.
At the time of publishing, it had a rating of 4.8 out of 5, with reviewers particularly happy with the way it enhanced their baking.
Nut-ola is kosher for Passover (and all year), and produced in Brooklyn, New York.
A smaller, 48 0z. bottle is also available.
If you’re working to manage your high cholesterol and triglycerides through diet, consider adding cottonseed oil to your daily routine.
Simply switching from olive (or another) oil to cottonseed oil may just give you the edge you need to improve you cholesterol and lipid profile!
Let me know what you think!
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