The study was conducted among 335 adults in Indianapolis, USA, during the first year in which olestra was on commercial release.
Volunteers were studied after they switched to eating potato chips, tortilla chips and other snack foods made from olestra.
Doctors found that users of olestra shed about one pound (0.5kg) in weight and reduced their reliance on fat for daily calories. At the beginning of the research olestra users consumed 35% of their total calories as fat. By the end it was 32%, just two points higher than the recommended healthy maximum.
Those who consumed the highest levels of olestra had statistically significantly reduced total serum cholesterol levels of 0.54 mmol/L (21 mg/dL) compared with 0.14 mmol/L (5 mg/dL) among olestra non-consumers.
The findings are preliminary results from a four-year post-marketing study, which will eventually involve 12 000 Americans.
The research will also examine the impact of olestra consumption on vitamins. The early findings suggest it does not harm vitamin in-take.
Researchers said the findings could be distorted because those who made heaviest use of olestra might be those who were most health conscious.
"Olestra consumption is probably also an indicator of a healthier lifestyle in general."
Researcher Dr Ruth Patterson, of the Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington, USA, said: "While there are some plausible biological reasons for these changes, such as the possibility that olestra sequesters dietary cholesterol in the gut before it has a chance to get to the bloodstream, olestra consumption is probably also an indicator of a healthier lifestyle in general.
"Instead of being a marker for bad behaviour, we've found it's a marker of good behaviour; people who eat olestra tend to exercise more, eat better and be more health-conscious."
She added: "Just because we are seeing some positive things associated with consumption of olestra-containing savoury snacks doesn't make them a high-quality food.
"Our preliminary research suggests olestra can be a useful weight-management tool if it's used in moderation and is not used as a substitute for fruits, vegetables and other low-fat, high-fibre, whole foods."
Report Copyright: Englemed Health News at http://www.internationalmedicalnews.com