, Volume 12, Issue 6, pp 384-390,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 14 Aug 2010

Saturated Fatty Acids and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: Modulation by Replacement Nutrients

Abstract

Despite the well-established observation that substitution of saturated fats for carbohydrates or unsaturated fats increases low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in humans and animal models, the relationship of saturated fat intake to risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease in humans remains controversial. A critical question is what macronutrient should be used to replace saturated fat. Substituting polyunsaturated fat for saturated fat reduces LDL cholesterol and the total cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol ratio. However, replacement of saturated fat by carbohydrates, particularly refined carbohydrates and added sugars, increases levels of triglyceride and small LDL particles and reduces high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, effects that are of particular concern in the context of the increased prevalence of obesity and insulin resistance. Epidemiologic studies and randomized clinical trials have provided consistent evidence that replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat, but not carbohydrates, is beneficial for coronary heart disease. Therefore, dietary recommendations should emphasize substitution of polyunsaturated fat and minimally processed grains for saturated fat.