Monday, February 20, 2012

Saturated fat increases both "bad" LDL-cholesterol and "good" HDL-cholesterol.

Background: In 2010 the USDA published it's last update on the dietary guidelines for Americans. Part D. Section 3 covered the science base for fatty acids and cholesterol (1). The report states that consumption of carbohydrates instead of saturated fat (SFA) will decrease levels of "bad" LDL-cholesterol:

Replacement of SFA with carbohydrates decreased plasma total and LDL cholesterol.

But how will this change in macronutrients influence levels of "good" HDL-cholesterol?



Scientific research: In 2003, a group of Dutch researchers examined the effects on cholesterol of replacing carbohydrates with dietary fats. They searched the scientific literature for all controlled trials on this topic. A total of 60 trials were included in the final meta-analyses.
Results can be seen in the table below:



Effects on serum cholesterol of replacing carbohydrates by saturated fats can be seen in the red rectangle. Both LDL- and HDL- cholesterol increased significantly (P = < 0.001). As a consequence, total cholesterol levels also rose. Noticeable, saturated fat increased HDL-cholesterol to a larger extend than monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA).
The ratio total:HDL-cholesterol did not change with increasing intakes of saturated fats.

Sources:
1) US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services. Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on the dietary guidelines for Americans, 2010. http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/DGAs2010-DGACReport.htm
2) Mensink RP et al. Effects of dietary fatty acids and carbohydrates on the ratio of serum total to HDL cholesterol and on serum lipids and apolipoproteins: a meta-analysis of 60 controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 May;77(5):1146-55. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12716665

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