Current Atherosclerosis Reports

, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 215-220

First online:

Dietary fatty acids and insulin resistance

  • Jennifer C. LovejoyAffiliated withWomen’s Nutrition Research Program, Pennington Biomedical Research Center

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High-fat diets have been associated with insulin resistance, a risk factor for both Type II diabetes and heart disease. The effect of dietary fat on insulin varies depending on the type of fatty acid consumed. Saturated fatty acids have been consistently associated with insulin resistance. On the other hand, medium and long-chain fatty acid intakes are associated with insulin sensitivity, as are high intakes of ϕ3 fatty acids. Trans fatty acids appear to potentiate insulin secretion, at least in the short-term, to a greater degree than cis fatty acids. This may reflect chronic alterations in insulin sensitivity, although this remains to be tested. In summary, although it must be emphasized that all diets high in fat cause insulin resistance relative to high-carbohydrate diets, it appears that dietary saturated, short-chain and ϕ6 fatty acids have the most deleterious effects on insulin action.