Rapeseed oil helps produce cholesterol-busting acid in liver – study

High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips

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High cholesterol can be disastrous for your heart health. Controlling your levels is vital for offsetting cardiovascular conditions like heart disease and stroke. Over the years, scientists have come to recognise rapeseed oil – produced by the yellow cabbage plant rape – as having powerful properties that can slash your cholesterol levels.

High cholesterol refers to having too much of the fatty substance cholesterol in your blood.

At normal levels, cholesterol plays an important role in the body. It helps to make many hormones in the body and vitamin D.

But “bad” LDL cholesterol can clog up your arteries. When you have high LDL cholesterol, there is a significant risk of heart disease.

This happens when the substance deposits in the walls of your arteries and restricts blood flow to your heart.

Rapeseed oil, however, has been shown to help regulate the breakdown of cholesterol in your blood and promote the creation of a healthy fat called unsaturated fatty acids.

A study from 2014 found that eating a loaf of bread high in rapeseed oil could lower “bad” cholesterol levels by as much as 20mg of statins.

More recent studies have confirmed the positive effects of rapeseed oil – and furthered our understanding of why it has this potential.

Another study, published in the Journal of Functional Foods earlier this year, found that roasted rapeseed oil (120 and 150 degrees celsius) “down-regulated” genes that are linked to transforming fats into “bad” LDL cholesterol.

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It also increased the production of acid in the liver which is responsible for breaking down fats.

Possibly as a result of these changes, the rapeseed oil “alleviated” the total cholesterol levels in the blood, according to the study.

In the study, researchers gave sixty rats different diets to see how they affected them. For 12 weeks, some rats were given a simple diet to provide the rat with their basic needs.

Others were given a high cholesterol diet that contained lard and other fatty substances, or rapeseed oil for 12 weeks.

Interestingly, those who were given refined rapeseed oil had no impact on the rats’ cholesterol levels.

Refined rapeseed oil was defined as oil obtained through “conventional extraction”, which included steaming at 100-120 degrees celsius for 30 to 50 minutes, followed by removing the impurities, the colour, acid, and odour of the oil.

The two rapeseed oils that had an effect were prepared in different ways: roasted at 120 and 150 degrees celsius for only 13 minutes and pressed in a different way.

The authors of the study wrote that they believe the “effects may be attributed to their high levels of α-linolenic acid and polyphenols”.

Linolenic acid is a naturally occurring fat that is often used in medications to treat conditions like psoriasis and eczema, as well as heart disease.

Polyphenols are plant-based compounds with antioxidant properties known to also have a positive effect on heart health, as well as immunity.

Other ways to reduce cholesterol levels

Consuming rapeseed oil should come as part of several lifestyle changes, including the reduction of fatty food in your diet and doing more exercise.

According to the NHS, the following foods may be responsible for hiking up your cholesterol levels:

  • meat pies, sausages and fatty meat
  • butter, lard and ghee
  • cream and hard cheese, like cheddar
  • cakes and biscuits
  • food that contains coconut oil or palm oil
  • The health body recommends doing at least 150 minutes of exercise per week.

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