Forbes Medi-Tech Inc (TSE: FMI and NASDAQ:FMTI) announced its research team has developed a "designer oil" which reduces LDL ("bad") blood cholesterol levels in humans and increases energy expenditure, which may prevent people from gaining weight.

In a study conducted at McGill University in Montreal between October 1999 and May 2000, 17 healthy, normolipidemic, and overweight women were served meals either containing Forbes' "designer oil" or regular oils in a randomised, crossover trial for a period of 28 days. Study participants' blood cholesterol levels were checked on day two and 28 of the study. Participants who consumed meals containing the "designer oil" showed an impressive reduction in their LDL cholesterol by 14.5% as compared to subjects consuming regular oils in their diet.

"Generally, when someone consumes fat in their diet, their triglyceride level increases," said Dr. Peter Jones, professor, School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, McGill University, and the principal researcher of the "designer oil" study. "Remarkably, the level of triglycerides remained constant among subjects on the 'designer oil' diet providing an additional benefit of this product."

Energy expenditure, or calories burned, by the subjects was also measured on day two and day 27 of the dietary cycle.

"The study also showed that consumption of Forbes' 'designer oil' resulted in increased energy expenditure by the women, which means excess calories were being burned," noted Dr. Jerzy Zawistowski, Vice President, Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals, Forbes Medi-Tech. "This indicates that replacing fat with this 'designer oil' in human diet may also help to maintain body weight."

The "designer oil" developed by Forbes incorporates its phytosterol-based functional food ingredient Phytrol™ into oil using proprietary technologies which preserve the clarity of the oil. (Phytosterols are lipid-like compounds found in plants, which have been clinically proven to reduce cholesterol levels). The "designer oil" formulation has also been tested for oxidation at both ambient and high temperatures and shows excellent stability.

"This product offers wide potential applications such as salad dressing and cooking oil as well as a potential to replace fat in various food products," said Zawistowski. A large body of scientific evidence has shown that a diet high in fat is associated with an increased incidence of obesity, coronary heart disease, hypertension, insulin resistance, certain cancers and gallbladder disease.