Whitesburg KY

A canola-rich diet could help with control of type 2 diabetes

People who switch to a low-glycemic index diet with good carbohydrates and a focus on whole grains may be able to better control their type 2 diabetes.

A recent University of Toronto study put two groups on different diets to test the effect of canola oil on diabetes control.

In the past 20 years, the prevalence of diabetes in the U.S. has doubled. Meanwhile, Kentuckians living in the so-called “diabetes belt” of the South are diagnosed almost three times as often as they were in the mid-1990s, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Dr. David Jenkins researches nutrition and is lead author of the study.

The glycemic index ranks foods and beverages on a scale of 0 to a 100 based on how they affect blood sugar levels. Jenkins, who helped develop the glycemic index in the ’80s, is working on other trials to determine the effects of nutrition on blood sugar.

“We’ve been saying ‘Don’t have too much fat for diabetes,’ but now we’re seeing it may be better than a wholegrain diet,” Jenkins said.

Participants in the study were told to eat whole wheat bread with canola oil baked into it and a low glycemic index diet or to eat whole wheat bread without the added canola oil and avoid products made with white flour.

Both groups experienced lowered blood glucose levels, but those who supplemented their diet with canola oil experienced a three times greater drop in levels than those who did not.

“We found it improves the effects of diabetes but it also improved cholesterol,” Jenkins said.

High cholesterol is closely linked to diabetes.

“We could get their blood glucose under control, their LDL (bad cholesterol) down and good cholesterol up. One sort of approach took care of two things — both the diabetes and cholesterol.”

Kentuckians experience the third highest rate of death in the nation because of diabetes, according to the state’s 2013 Kentucky Diabetes Report. In 2009, 28.8 per 100,000 residents died as a result of diabetes compared to 20.9 in the U.S.

“I think what we can say is if people have these oils instead of regular (hydrogenated) vegetable oils, unhydrogenated, they seem to do very well,” Jenkins said.

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