Replacing certain other oil blends with canola oil may lower abdominal fat, and regularly consuming certain vegetable oils may be an easy way to lower risk of metabolic syndrome, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s 2013 Scientific Sessions in New Orleans.

Metabolic syndrome currently strikes one in three adults in the U.S. It’s the monounsaturated fats in vegetable oils that seem to cut abdominal fat, thereby reducing risk of metabolic syndrome, say researchers. Having metabolic syndrome ups the risk of heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes.

In the study, which was a randomized, controlled trial, about 100 adults at-risk for metabolic syndrome had a daily smoothie containing 40 grams (1.4 ounces) of one of five oils as a supplement to a heart-healthy 2,000-calorie-a-day diet.

Study participants had five risk factors including substantial belly fat, low HDL (good) cholesterol , as well as elevated blood sugar, blood pressure, and triglycerides, all of which up risk of heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes.

Researchers found that those who consumed canola oil (or high-oleic canola oils) daily for one month reduced belly fat by 1.6 percent compared to those who consumed a flax/safflower oil blend.

Abdominal fat was unchanged by the other two oils, which included a corn/safflower oil blend (low in monounsaturated fat) and high-oleic canola oil enriched with an algal source of the omega-3 DHA.

Several factors that lead to metabolic syndrome can be eradicated by adjusting the diet, and by increasing exercise and losing weight, stresses the American Heart Association, reducing the chances of developing the condition.

Further study is needed to determine the mechanisms that lead to the loss of belly fat on a diet loaded with monounsaturated fatty acids, said researchers, as the mechanism is currently unknown.

Additional foods that are high in monounsaturated fats include avocados, dark chocolate, nuts and olives.

 Do You get a lot of monounsaturated fats in your diet currently?