New Delhi: Consuming mustard, olive or canola oil can help keep heart diseases at bay, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said. The top US regulatory authority has found credible evidence to support that consuming edible oils high in oleic acid (a monounsaturated fatty acid) may reduce the risk of coronary heart diseases. The health claim will now be allowed on the packaging labels for edible oils. However, these oils must contain at least 70% of oleic acid to meet the criteria, added FDA.

FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the endorsement by the regulatory body gets them one step closer to the ultimate goal of “improving nutrition and reducing the burden of chronic disease".

According to FDA, manufacturers of these oils can choose to include a health claim on their labels saying that “supportive but not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that daily consumption of about 1 tablespoon (20 gm) of oils containing high levels of oleic acid, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease".

It added that the label must include a disclaimer making it clear that to achieve this benefit, these oils “should replace fats and oils higher in saturated fat and not increase the total number of calories you eat in a day".

According to a study published in Lancet, in 2015, heart ailments caused more than 2.1 million deaths across all ages, or more than a quarter of all deaths, in India.

In the age group of 30-69 years, 1.3 million cardiovascular deaths were reported, of which 0.9 million, or 68.4%, were caused by coronary heart diseases.

Dr Anoop Misra, chairman, Fortis-C-DOC Centre of Excellence for Diabetes, Metabolic Diseases and Endocrinology, and chairman, National Diabetes, Obesity and Cholesterol Foundation (N-DOC), said the endorsement by US FDA strengthens the fact that monounsaturated fats are good for health.

“In India, there is massive misinformation about oils and fats. Some even propose unlimited use of saturated fat oils (ghee, coconut oil, etc.), which are extremely bad for liver and metabolism," Dr Misra said. “Oils with high monounsaturated fats (the cheapest is mustard) are beneficial and should benefit Indians with high propensity to develop heart disease, if taken about 20 gm daily."

Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) are a type of unsaturated fatty foods that are good fats and have a number of health benefits. Dr Misra said that among the oils available in India, olive oil has the highest oleic acid content, followed by canola, mustard and peanut oil. “While canola oil has 63% oleic acid, olive oil has 73%, peanut oil 46%, mustard 60% and soyabean 23%."

Other than edible oils, almond, pistachio and avocados are high in oleic acid. Specific edible oils available in different parts of the world include high oleic sunflower oil, high oleic safflower oil, high oleic canola oil, olive oil and high oleic algal oil.

FDA’s claims were based on the findings of six small clinical studies, saying that consumption of high oleic acid oil lowered cholesterol levels. “By allowing such claims on food product labels, we at the FDA also hope to encourage the food industry to reformulate products," Gottlieb said in a statement.

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