Oil Research Projects

Research continues to document and expand canola oil's importance to human nutrition. Projects now underway are increasing our knowledge of how canola can help to improve heart health and manage problems like diabetes and obesity.

Projects underway

Canola and flax oils in modulation of plasma lipids and other markers of heart disease risk
Effects of canola oil fatty acid composition on insulin resistance and obesity
Effect of canola oil as part of a low glycemic load diet on glucose control and coronary heart disease risk factors in type 2 diabetes
Effects of canola oil on blood vessel function in peripheral arterial disease (PAD)

See the Canola Oil Research Directory

Canola and flax oils in modulation of plasma lipids and other markers of heart disease risk

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Objective: To address significant knowledge gaps in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms and cardioprotective effects of dietary alpha linolenic acid (ALA) consumption. This research will examine the health benefits of ALA from consumption of diets rich in canola oil, novel MUFA and DHA enriched canola oils, and flax oil versus diets containing typical North American fats. Treatment oils will be examined for potential influence on endothelial dysfunction, inflammation, oxidation, body composition and plasma lipoprotein characterization. Furthermore, in an effort to elucidate the genetic factors that promote ALA conversion to EPA/DHA and strengthen the role of ALA in cardiovascular health, a major objective of this proposal is to correlate common genetic variants in the FADS1 and FADS2 gene cluster with ALA conversion to EPA/DHA and n-3 fatty acid composition of serum phospholipids in response to consumption of treatment oils.

Research team: Drs. Peter Jones and Todd Rideout (University of Manitoba) - Project Leaders; Dr. David Jenkins (University of Toronto); Dr. Benoit Lamarche (Laval University); Drs. Penny-Kris-Etherton and Sheila West (Penn State University)

Funded through the Canola/Flax Canadian Agri-Science Cluster, a joint initiative of AAFC and the industry with funding from the Canola Council of Canada, Flax Council of Canada, and Dow AgroSciences

Effects of canola oil fatty acid composition on insulin resistance and obesity

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Objective: To investigate the effects of canola oil and its fatty acid composition for prevention and treatment of insulin resistance, inflammation and obesity using a rodent model of diet-induced obesity. This research will fill an important gap in knowledge regarding the effects of canola oil for the prevention and management of insulin resistance, inflammation and obesity.  The results will be important for designing human studies to verify the dietary fatty acid compositions that are beneficial for improving insulin sensitivity and reducing obesity. If the fatty acid composition of canola oil, either alone or in combination with other dietary fats, proves beneficial for prevention and treatment of insulin resistance, inflammation and obesity, there will be increased awareness of the health benefits of canola oil by consumers and health professionals leading to greater consumption and utilization.

Research team: Dr. Carla Taylor (University of Manitoba) - Project Leader; Dr. Peter Zahradka (St. Boniface General Hospital Research Centre)

Funded through the Canola/Flax Canadian Agri-Science Cluster, a joint initiative of AAFC and Canola Council of Canada

Effect of canola oil as part of a low glycemic load diet on glucose control and coronary heart disease risk factors in type 2 diabetes

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Objective: To determine whether canola oil improves glycemic control in non-insulin dependent diabetes, as assessed by HbA1c and fasting blood glucose, and to assess whether these outcomes relate to improvements in cardiovascular health, i.e. plasma lipids, measures of oxidative stress, FMD and inflammatory biomarkers including C-reactive protein. If successful, this research will support scientific data on the utility of low glycemic load diets in improving glycemic control and reducing cardiovascular risk in type 2 diabetes.  Positive results would also establish canola oil as a healthy dietary component and help to shape public opinion on its health benefits and influence food choices in Canada and abroad.

Research team: Dr. David Jenkins (University of Toronto) - Project Leader; Dr. Cyril Kendall (University of Toronto); Dr. Sheila West (Penn State University)

Funded through the Canola/Flax Canadian Agri-Science Cluster, a joint initiative of AAFC and Canola Council of Canada

Effects of canola oil on blood vessel function in peripheral arterial disease (PAD)

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Objective: To rank various oils/fatty acid compositions with respect to post-prandial vascular activity. To establish whether canola has positive effects on blood vessel function by measuring true clinical endpoints such as arterial stiffness and flow-mediated dilatation as well as the ankle-brachial index, the gold standard for human trials of this nature. As reduced blood flow contributes to cognitive impairment, the study will also investigate whether improvements in blood vessel function are also associated with improvements in cognitive function.

Research team: Dr. Carla Taylor (University of Manitoba) - Project Leader; Drs. Peter Zahradka and Randy Guzman (St. Boniface General Hospital Research Centre)

Funded through the Canola/Flax Canadian Agri-Science Cluster, a joint initiative of AAFC and Canola Council of Canada