, Volume 40, Issue 12, pp 1201-1205

Effects of stearic acid on plasma lipid and lipoproteins in humans

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Abstract

More than 40 years ago, saturated FA with 12, 14, and 16 carbon atoms (lauric acid, myristic acid, and palmitic acid) were demonstrated to be “hypercholesterolemic saturated FA.” It was further concluded that the serum total cholesterol level would hardly be changed by isocaloric replacement of stearic acid (18∶0) by oleic acid (cis-18∶1n−9) or carbohydrates. These earlier studies did not address the effects of the various FA on the serum lipoprotein profile. Later studies found that the hypercholesterolemic saturated FA increase serum total cholesterol levels by raising concentrations of both the atherogenic LDL and the antiatherogenic HDL. Consequently, the ratio of total to HDL cholesterol will hardly change when carbohydrates replace these saturated FA. Compared with other saturated FA, stearic acid lowers LDL cholesterol. Studies on the effects on HDL cholesterol are less conclusive. In some, the effects on HDL cholesterol were comparable to those of palmitic acid, oleic acid, and linoleic acid, whereas in others a decrease was observed. This may suggest that in this respect the source of stearic acid is of importance, which needs however further study. From all these studies, however, it can be concluded that stearic acid may decrease the ratio of total to HDL cholesterol slightly when compared with palmitic or myristic acid. Without doubt, the effects of stearic acid are more favorable than those of trans monounsaturated FA.