Could Vegetable Oil Reduce Your Risk Of Diabetes?

With a new German study associating vegetable oil with a lower risk of diabetes, you might feel safer adding fried foods or certain dressings into your diet. But take those findings with a figurative grain of salt, says Leann Poston, M.D., a licensed Ohio physician and educator who writes and researches for Invigor Medical, a telemedicine clinic based in Kennewick, Washington. "Overall, not much can be gleaned from this study," Poston told Eat This, Not That!

Researchers from the German Center for Diabetes Research conducted a meta-analysis of 23 existing clinical studies examining the relationship between diabetes and dietary fat. The peer-reviewed scientific journal PLOS Medicine published the results. Their review found an association between lower diabetes risk and consuming vegetable oil, but the amount consumed is key — it should be fewer than 13 grams each day, says Eat This, Not That! The study did not specify a type of vegetable oil either, and the health benefits of those can vary. 

Health experts recommend that Americans consume less than 30 percent of their total daily calories from fat (via Healthline). The healthiest kinds of fats are omega-3 fatty acids, often found in fish such as salmon, and monounsaturated fat, such as olive oil. Studies have shown that monounsaturated fat can lead to increased levels of HDL (or good) cholesterol, lower blood sugar, and lower blood pressure. They recommend avoiding trans fats, which are often found in margarine and processed foods.

Lower your diabetes risk through eating more fruits and vegetables

Because some studies have demonstrated that some diets high in saturated fats or animal fats are linked to insulin resistance that can cause type 2 diabetes, the American Heart Association recommends limiting your saturated fat intake to only 5 to 6 percent of your diet. If you consume about 2,000 calories a day, that's about 13 grams of saturated fat and about 67 grams of total fat. Palm oil and coconut oil are high in saturated fats, although they may have metabolic benefits.

The German study's authors were unavailable for clarification because of the holidays, so Eat This, Not That! reached out to Poston instead. She noticed that the findings were "correlational, not causational." In other words, the findings show that people who have a lower tendency of developing diabetes also happen to eat a certain amount of vegetable oil, not that one is a result of the other.

"The authors pointed out that they had only low to moderate confidence in their results, nor did they go so far as to make specific dietary recommendations," Poston says. To lower your risk of diabetes, stick to healthy eating habits, such as filling one quarter of your plate with protein, one quarter with grains, and one half with fruits and vegetables, as well as replacing traditional sweets with low-sugar options (via Eat This, Not That!).