Lead author Martha Belury, a professor of human nutrition at Ohio State University, and colleagues say safflower oil contains linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated fatty acid. Research dating back to the 1960s has suggested that these dietary oils from plant sources can help prevent heart disease, Belury says.
"The women in the study didn't replace what was in their diet with safflower oil. They added it to what they were already doing. And that says to me that certain people need a little more of this type of good fat -- particularly when they're obese women who already have diabetes," Belury says in a statement. "I believe these findings suggest that people consciously make sure they get a serving of healthy oil in their diets each day -- maybe an oil and vinegar dressing on a salad, or some oil for cooking. And this recommendation can be extended to everyone."
The study, published online ahead of print in the journal Clinical Nutrition, says the daily dose of safflower oil for 16 weeks improved such cardiovascular health measures as high-density lipoprotein, the "good" cholesterol; blood sugar; insulin sensitivity and inflammation in obese post-menopausal women who have type 2 diabetes.