Health Watch -- Nutty Oils

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

Can a special kind of oil be the secret ingredient for weight loss?

A recently released low-carbohydrate diet book promotes a powerful secret ingredient that helps people lose weight and keep it off. But nutrition experts at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say there are less expensive alternatives that will give similar results.

What is this secret ingredient? Macadamia nut oil. Lona Sandon, a registered dietitian who teaches clinical nutrition at UT Southwestern, says macadamia nut oil is a heart-healthy oil. It's a monounsaturated fat, and studies have shown that monounsaturated fats do have health benefits.

But macadamia nut oil is expensive and can be hard to find. There are other popular nut oils, including cashew and walnut, but those can also be expensive and hard to find. The good news is that there is a popular oil that offers most of the same features as these more exotic oils, and it's on the shelf of just about every grocery store. You can buy expensive varieties, but there are also varieties that are in the same price range as other common cooking oils.

What is this wonderful oil? Olive oil. Olive oil is a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, and studies have shown that Mediterranean style diets in which most of the fat comes from olive oil can have health benefits. Just don't look for a certain kind of oil to help you lose weight. Oils of all kinds are high in calories. The key is finding one like olive oil that also has health benefits.


June 2004