12 January - 20 June 2016

Can cottonseed oil help lower your ‘bad’ cholesterol?

A study published in Nutrition Research, supported by Cotton Incorporated, the Augusta University and University of Georgia Medical Partnership, and the University of Georgia Clinical and Translational Research Unit, and conducted by a team at the University of Georgia has investigated the effects on lipid profiles of two high-fat diets – one rich in olive oil, and the other in cottonseed oil.

Cholesterol and its effects on the body – especially the heart – is a hot topic for anyone concerned about how diet might affect their health; the issue is increasingly more complicated than ‘fat is bad’. Olive oil has long been thought to be the fat source of choice for lowering LDL (often called “bad” cholesterol) and triglycerides, especially when used as a substitute for saturated fat (for example, the much-publicised ‘Mediterranean diet’). Cottonseed oil has also been shown to have similar benefits in animal and human models, but until recently the two had not been directly compared.

A study published in Nutrition Research, supported by Cotton Incorporated, the Augusta University and University of Georgia Medical Partnership, and the University of Georgia Clinical and Translational Research Unit, and conducted by a team at the University of Georgia has investigated the effects on lipid profiles of two high-fat diets – one rich in olive oil, and the other in cottonseed oil. The study used 15 healthy men, aged 18-45 years, in a 5-day diet intervention consuming food provided by researchers. In the interests of balance, all participants experienced both diets with a 2- 4-week washout period between interventions. Both diets contained 50% total energy from fat, 35% from carbohydrates and 15% from protein. Olive oil and Cottonseed oil were included to provide 44% total energy and total energy intake from each diet was tailored to provide each participant’s estimated energy needs at baseline. At baseline before each intervention and after each diet participants were assessed for height, weight, blood pressure and body fat percentage and had blood taken which was analysed for a full lipid profile including levels of HDL-C, LDL-C and Triglycerides (TG).

Cooper et al. found on average that a high-fat diet enriched with cottonseed oil led to a decrease in triglyceride levels of 30%, a decrease in total cholesterol and LDL-C levels by 8% and 15% respectively with an increase in HDL-C levels of 8%. The olive oil enriched diet also decreased triglyceride levels, but not to a significant extent. The researchers note that this is “not necessarily unexpected” as “participants in this study had healthy cholesterol profiles at baseline”. Lead author associate professor Jamie Cooper is quoted in a press release as saying that “One of the reasons these results were so surprising is because of the magnitude of change observed with the cottonseed oil diet”.

Cooper et al. suggest that a fatty acid, present in cotton seed oil but not in olive oil, dihydrosterculic acid could be responsible for the unique effects of cottonseed oil as it may prevent triglyceride accumulation. Cooper explained that “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." The researchers also suggest that the polyunsaturated fats and omega-6 abundant in cottonseed oil may also have beneficial effects.

In conclusion, Cooper et al reiterate hat their work showed that a “5-day high fat diet rich in cottonseed oil improved cholesterol profiles ad triglyceride levels in healthy adult men”. They note therefore that cottonseed oil may have to potential to be beneficial for the management of diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes and recommend that further studies, with a longer intervention period, should focus on participants with lipid-related health conditions to investigate this.

RSSL's Lipids Laboratory, part of the Investigative Analysis Team has expertise in all aspects of fat analysis and fatty acid profiling, including the determination of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. To find out more please contact Customer Services telephone 0118 918 4076 or e-mail enquiries@rssl.com

share this article
RSSL endeavours to check the veracity of news stories cited in this free e-mail bulletin by referring to the primary source, but cannot be held responsible for inaccuracies in the articles so published. RSSL provides links to other World Wide Web sites as a convenience to users, but cannot be held responsible for the content or availability of these sites. This document may be copied and distributed provided the source is cited as RSSL's Food e-News and the information so distributed is not used for profit.

Previous editions

Load more editions

Make an Enquiry