ISLAMABAD: Sunflower, grapeseed and corn oil may actually be better for our health than olive oil, a study has found

For years, we've been told to guzzle olive oil to protect our hearts.

Now, however, a study has found we should be cooking with sunflower, grapeseed or corn oil instead.

People with higher levels of linoleic acid in their blood, which is prevalent in these oils, had leaner bodies and less fat around their vital organs, researchers found.

Having a leaner body lengthens a person's lifespan as it allows them to remain active for longer, researchers said.

Those with higher blood levels of linoleic acid also lowered their risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, they added.

The team compare linoleic acid found in oils from nuts and seeds to oleic acid, which is found in olive oils, as the latter has been long recommended for heart health.

Linoleic acid is a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid abundant in many nuts and fatty seeds, including oils such as grapeseed, safflower, poppyseed, sunflower, hemp, corn, sesame and walnut.

Oleic acid is a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid found in olive, canola, peanut oil, macadamia and sunflower oil.

Both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are known as 'essential' fatty acids as the body cannot produce them itself, therefore they must be consumed as part of our diet.

They are considered 'healthy fats' when compared with the trans fats found in vegetable oils, as these increase harmful levels of cholesterol in the body.

The study by The Ohio State University compared the effects of these two types of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats as well as another healthy type - the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in fish such as salmon and tuna.

It found inflammation decreased as levels of all these fatty acids rose in the blood.
But higher levels of oleic acid or long-chain omega-3s did not appear to be linked to a person's body fat levels.

Linoleic acid is a abundant in many nuts and fatty seeds, including oils such as grapeseed, safflower, poppyseed, sunflower, hemp, corn, sesame and walnut.

Because it is made solid for processed foods, it is more likely to convert to trans fat than its oleic cousin, which is found in olive oil.

Trans fats are considered unhealthy as they raise levels of harmful cholesterol in the body.

Therefore food manufacturers have been lowering levels of linoleic acids in oils, genetically modifying them to make them higher in oleic acid.

But now, researchers have found linoleic acids may be better for our health than oleic acids.

The study found people with high levels of this type of fatty acid in their blood had a lower risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

They also tended to have leaner bodies and less fat around their organs.

Surprisingly, no such link was found between levels of oleic acid.

Therefore, researchers suggested it may be time to switch from oleic-acid-rich olive oil to linoleic-acid-rich sunflower, grapeseed and corn oil.

It also did not reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, despite longstanding recommendations that people eat more olive oil and fatty fish - a finding the researchers said were extremely surprising.