Exchanging saturated fat in the diet with unsaturated fat reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, according to an analysis of data from dozens of studies. Apart from the unsaturated fats, seed oils such as sunflower have the strongest effect.
This new study led by Dr. Lukas Schwingshackl from the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbrueck, was the first to carry out an analysis that lets the impact of several oils and solid fats on blood lipids to be assessed in a single model.
Researchers in earlier studies have compared the effect of replacing a food rich in saturated fat, such as butter, with one rich in unsaturated fat, such as plant-based olive oil and sunflower. However, the result makes it quite hard to find out which of the many plant-derived oils have the maximum benefit.
Dr. Schwingshackl and team used a statistical technique called network meta-analysis, which is gaining ground in health research as a way to gather evidence from vast amounts of data through the use of “direct and indirect comparisons.” The team use network meta-analysis to find answers.
Dr. Schwingshackl explains that the beauty of this method is that a lot of results can be compared to different interventions concurrently.
According to the doctor, “the end results makes it easier to identify the best oil for a “specific outcome.”
The method, for instance, allows a comparison of butter with sunflower oil to be inferred indirectly by analyzing the results of two trials: one that tested butter against olive oil directly, and another that tested sunflower against olive oil directly.
The new findings feature in a paper that is now published in the Journal of Lipid Research.