Cottonseed Oil: A Promising Choice for Cardiovascular Health


The University of Georgia recently conducted a study that provides compelling evidence that polyunsaturated fats found in cottonseed oil may benefit cardiovascular health more than monounsaturated fats. Published in The Journal of Nutrition, this study adds to the growing body of research suggesting that polyunsaturated fats can help lower high LDL cholesterol levels in adults at increased risk for cardiovascular disease.

The study found that hypercholesterolemic adults who added cottonseed oil to their diets experienced significant improvements in fasting and postprandial blood lipids, and postprandial glycemia. This is particularly important as cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for an estimated 17.9 million deaths yearly, according to the World Health Organization. High LDL cholesterol levels have been identified as an independent and primary risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease. Therefore, the findings of this study are essential for healthcare professionals and patients alike.

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Adding unsaturated fats to the diet is an effective strategy to benefit heart health. The two types are polyunsaturated fats, which can be found in cottonseed oil, and monounsaturated fats, which can be found in olive oil.

“There is much research on comparing saturated and unsaturated fats concerning health outcomes. However, the type of unsaturated fat that may be more beneficial for cardiovascular disease risk reduction remains a topic of discussion,” said Jamie Cooper, PhD, University of Georgia. “We sought to directly compare the effects of an eight-week diet intervention rich in either cottonseed or olive oil on blood lipids in hypercholesterolemic adults.”

This study involved a randomized parallel clinical trial with 43 hypercholesterolemic men and women who consumed meals and snacks accounting for 60 percent of their daily energy needs. Participants received 30 percent of their energy needs from either cottonseed oil (21 participants) or olive oil (22 participants) over eight weeks. The study assessed fasting cholesterol profiles and postprandial blood lipids and glycemic markers over five hours, before and after a high saturated fat meal, that provided 35 percent of total energy needs and 70 percent of energy from fat.

Results showed that consuming cottonseed oil substantially improved fasting, postprandial blood lipids, and postprandial glycemia in hypercholesterolemic adults. In contrast, olive oil did not produce the same effects. 

“The findings from this study that cottonseed oil may improve blood lipids in an at-risk population is an exciting development for the medical and nutrition communities,” Cooper said. “These study results provide additional evidence for a growing body of literature on the cholesterol-lowering potential of cottonseed oil consumption.”