High-fat diets are implicated in the onset of cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, and obesity. Large intakes of saturated and trans FA, together with low levels of PUFA, particularly long-chain (LC) omega-3 (n−3) PUFA, appear to have the greatest impact on the development of CVD. A high n−6∶n−3 PUFA ratio is also considered a marker of elevated risk of CVD, though little accurate data on dietary intake is available. A new Australian food composition database that reports FA in foods to two decimal places was used to assess intakes of FA in four habitual dietary groups. Analysis using the database found correlations between the dietary intakes of LC n−3 PUFA and the plasma phospholipid LC n−3 PUFA concentrations of omnivore and vegetarian subjects. High meat-eaters (HME), who consumed large amounts of food generally, had significantly higher LC n−3 PUFA intakes (0.29 g/d) than moderate meat-eaters (MME) (0.14 g/d), whose intakes in turn were significantly higher than those of ovolacto-vegetarians or vegans (both 0.01 g/d). The saturated FA intake of MME subjects (typical of adult male Australians) was not different from ovolacto-vegetarian intakes, whereas n−6∶n−3 intake ratios in vegetarians were significantly higher than in omnivores. Thus, accurate dietary and plasma FA analyses suggest that regular moderate consumption of meat and fish maintains a plasma FA profile possibly more conducive to good health.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
body mass index
Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. (2002) Dietary Fats: Total Fats and Fatty Acids, in Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids (Macronutrients), pp. 335–432, The National Academy Press, Washington, DC.
Kwiterovich, P.O. Jr. (1997) The Effect of Dietary Fat, Antioxidants and Pro-oxidants on Blood Lipids, Lipoproteins and Atherosclerosis, J. Am. Diet. Assoc. 97, S31-S41.
Ravnskov, U. (1998) The Questionable Role of Saturated and Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Cardiovascular Disease, J. Clin. Epidemiol. 51, 443–460.
Kris-Etherton, P.M., and Mustad, V.A. (1994) Chocolate Feeding Studies: A Novel Approach for Evaluating the Plasma Lipid Effects of Stearic Acid, Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 60, 1029S-1036S.
Kinsella, J.E., Lokesh, B., and Stone, R.A. (1990) Dietary n−3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Amelioration of Cardiovascular Disease: Possible Mechanisms, Am. J. Clin. Nutr 52, 1–28.
Fischer, S., Weber, P.C., and Dyerberg, J. (1986) The Prostacyclin/Thromboxane Balance Is Favourably Shifted in Greenland Eskimos, Prostaglandins 32, 235–241.
DeLorgeril, M., Salen, P., Martin, J., Monjaud, I., Delaye, J., and Mamelle, N. (1999) Mediterranean Diet, Traditional Risk Factors, and the Rate of Cardiovascular Complications After Myocardial Infarction: Final Report of the Lyon Diet Heart Study, Circulation 99, 779–785.
Mann, N., Sinclair, A., Pille, M., Johnson, L., Warrick, G., Reder, E., and Lorenz, R. (1997) The Effect of Short-Term Diets Rich in Fish, Red Meat or White Meat on Thromboxane and Prostacyclin Synthesis in Humans, Lipids 32, 635–644.
Arterburn, L.M. (2005) Dosing and Distribution of n−3 Fatty Acids in Humans, Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Recommendations for Therapeutics and Prevention Symposium, New York, May 21, 2005.
Mori, T.A., Burke, V., Puddey, I.B., Watts, G.F., O'Neal, D.N., Best, J.D., and Beilin, L.J. (2000) Purified Eicosapentaenoic and Docosahexaenoic Acids Have Differential Effects on Serum Lipids and Lipoproteins, LDL Particle Size, Glucose, and Insulin in Mildly Hyperlipidemic Men. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 71, 1085–1094.
Mantzioris, E., James, M.J., Gibson, R.A., and Cleland, L.G. (1994) Dietary Substitution with an Alpha-Linolenic Acid-Rich Vegetable Oil Increases Eicosapentaenoic Acid Concentrations in Tissues. Am. J. Clin. Nutr., 59, 1304–1309.
Mann, N.J., Johnson, L.G., Warrick, G.E., and Sinclair, A.J. (1995) The Arachidonic Acid Content of the Australian Diet Is Lower Than Previously Estimated, J. Nutr. 125, 2528–2538.
Bang, H.O., and Dyerberg, J. (1972) Plasma Lipids and Lipoproteins in Greenlandic West Coast Eskimos. Acta Med. Scand., 192 (1–2), 85–94.
Harper, C.R., and Jacobson, T.A. (2001) The Fats of Life: The Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in the Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease, Arch. Intern. Med. 161, 2185–2192.
Burr, M.L., Fehily, A.M., Gilbert, J.F., Rogers, S., Holliday, R.M., Sweetnam, P.M., Elwood, P.C., and Deadman, N.M. (1989) Effects of Changes in Fat, Fish, and Fibre Intakes on Death and Myocardial Reinfarction: Diet and Reinfarction Trial (DART), Lancet 2, 757–761.
Gruppo Italiano per lo Studio della Sopravvivenza nell'Infarto Miocardico. (1999) Dietary Supplementation with n−3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Vitamin E After Myocardial Infarction: Results of the GISSI-Prevenzione Trial. Lancet 354, 447–455.
Hibbeln, J.R. (1998) Fish Consumption and Major Depression, Lancet 351, 1213.
Hibbeln, J.R. (2001) Seafood Consumption and Homicide Mortality. A Cross-national Ecological Analysis, World Rev. Nutr. Diet 88, 41–46.
Phillipson, B.E., Rothrock, D.W., Connor, W.E., Harris, W.S., and Illingworth, D.R. (1985) Reduction of Plasma Lipids, Lipoproteins and Apoproteins by Dietary Fish Oils in Patients with Hypertriglyceridaemia, N. Engl. J. Med. 312, 1210–1216.
Von Schacky, C., Fischer, S., and Weber, P.C. (1985) Long-Term Effects of Dietary Marine Omega-3 Fatty Acids upon Plasma and Cellular Fluids, Platelet Function, and Eicosanoid Formation in Humans, J. Clin. Invest. 76, 1626–1631.
Delarue, J., Couet, C., Cohen, R., Brechot, J.F., Antoine, J.M., and Lamisse F. (1996) Effects of Fish Oil on Metabolic Responses to Oral Fructose and Glucose Loads in Healthy Humans, Am. J. Physiol. 270, E353-E362.
Li, D., Sinclair, A., Wilson, A., Nakkote, S., Kelly, F., Abedin, L., Mann, N., and Turner, A. (1999) Effect of Dietary α-Linoleic Acid on Thrombotic Risk Factors in Vegetarian Men, Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 69, 872–882.
Roche, H.M. (1999) Unsaturated Fatty Acids, Proc. Nutr. Soc. 58, 397–401.
Gerster, H. (1995) The Use of n−3 PUFAs (Fish Oil) in Enteral Nutrition, Int. J. Vitamin Nutr. Res. 65(1), 3–20.
de Deckere, E.A., Korver, O., Verschuren, P.M., and Katan, M.B. (1998) Health Aspects of Fish and n−3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids from Plant and Marine Origin, Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 52, 749–753.
ISSFAL (International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids). (2004) Recommendations for PUFA Intakes [Online], Retrieved from http://www.issfal.org.uk/welcome/PolicyStatement3.asp
Astorg, P., Arnault, N., Czernichow, S., Noisette, N., Galan, P., and Hercberg, S. (2004) Dietary Intakes and Food Sources of n−6 and n−3 PUFA in French Adult Men and Women, Lipids 39, 527–535.
Kris-Etherton, P.M., Harris, W.S., and Appel, L.J. (2002) Fish Consumption, Fish Oil, Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease, Circulation 106, 2747–2757.
Kris-Etherton, P.M., Taylor, D.S., Yu-Poth, S., Huth, P., Moriarty, K., Fishell, V., Hargrove, R.L., Zhao, G., and Etherton, T.D. (2000) Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in the Food Chain in the United States, Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 71, 179S-188S.
WHO (World Health Organisation). (2003) Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases, Technical report series 916 [Online], Retrieved from http://www.who.int/hpr/NPH/docs/who_fao_expert_report.pdf
Meyer, B.J., Tsivis, E., Hower, P.R.C., Tapsell, L., and Clavert, G.D. (1999) Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Content of Foods: Differentiating Between Long- and Short-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Food Australia 51(3), 82–95.
Sinclair, A.J., Johnson, L., O'Dea, K., and Holman, R.T. (1994) Diets Rich in Beef Increase Arachidonic Acid and Long-Chain Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Levels in Plasma Phospholipids, Lipids 29, 337–343.
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (1998) Apparent Consumption of Food Stuffs (1996/7), Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, Australia.
Cordain, L., Eaton, S.B., Sebastian, A., Mann, N., Lindeberg, S., Watkins, B.A., O'Keefe, J.H., and Brand-Miller, J. (2005) Origins and Evolution of the Western Diet: Health Implications for the 21st Century, Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 81, 341–354.
McLennan, W., and Podger, A. (1999) National Nutrition Survey of Australia 1995: Foods Eaten, Australia 1995, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care, Canberra, Australia.
CSIRO, Human Nutrition. (1994) Nutrition in South Australia from 1988 to 1993: Results from the CSIRO State Nutrition Surveys, CSIRO Human Nutrition in conjunction with Foundation SA, Adelaide, Australia.
McLennan, W., and Podger, A. (1998) National Nutrition Survey of Australia 1995: Nutrient Intakes and Physical Measurements, Australia 1995, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care Canberra, Australia.
NUTTAB 95. (1995) Data Tables for Use in Australia, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, Australia.
ANZFA: Australia New Zealand Food Authority. (1999) Supplement to NUTTAB 95 Database, Australia New Zealand Food Authority, Canberra, Australia.
Mann, N.J., Sinclair, A.J., Percival, P., Lewis, J.L., Meyer, B.J., and Howe, P.R.C. (2003) Development of a Database of Fatty Acids in Australian Foods, Nutr. Dietetics 60(1), 42–45.
Li, D., Sinclair, A., Mann, N., Turner, A., Ball, M., Kelly, F., Abedin, L., and Wilson, A. (1999) The Association of Diet and Thrombotic Risk Factors in Healthy Male Vegetarians and Meat-Eaters, Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 53, 612–619.
Thomas, S., and Corden, M. (1977) Metric Tables of Composition of Australian Foods, Commonwealth Department of Community Services and Health, Nutrition Section, Canberra, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, Australia.
Mann, N., Ashton, Y., O'Connell, S., Li D., Kelly, F., and Sinclair, A. (2006) Food Group Categories Used in Dietary Analysis Can Misrepresent the Amount and Type of Fat Present in Foods, J. Nutr. Diet (Aust.) 63(2), 69–78.
Gurr, M.I. (1986) Role of Fats in Food and Nutrition, pp. 3–5, 13, 15, 68, Elsevier Applied Science Publishers, London.
Tefft, M.E., and Boniface, D.R. (2002) Dietary Fats and 16-Year Coronary Heart Disease Mortality in a Cohort of Men and Women in Great Britain, Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 56, 786–792.
Kelly, F.J. (1991) The Metabolic Role of n−3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: Relationship to Human Disease, Comp. Biochem. Physiol. Part A: Physiol. 98, 581–585.
Meyer, B.J., Mann, N.J., Lewis, J.L., Milligan, G.C., Sinclair, A.J., and Howe, P.R.C. (2003) Dietary Intakes and Food Sources of Omega-6 and Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, Lipids 38, 391–398.
Berner, L.A. (1993) Roundtable Discussion on Milk Fat, Diary Foods and Coronary Heart Disease Risk, J. Nutr. 123, 1175–1185.
Howe, P., Meyer, B., Record, S., and Baghurst, K. (2006) Dietary Intake of Long-Chain Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: Contribution of Meat Sources, Nutrition 22, 47–53.
Health and Welfare Canada. (1990), Nutrition Recommendations: The Report of the Scientific Review Committee, Health and Welfare Canada, Ottawa, Ontario.
Sugano, M. (1996) Characteristics of Fats in Japanese Diets and Current Recommendations, Lipids 31, S283-S286.
Hibbeln, J.R. (2005) Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Mental Health, Recommendations for Therapeutics and Prevention Symposium, New York, May 21, 2005.
Executive Summary. (2005), Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand, Department of Health and Ageing, Australian Government, Retrieved from http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/publications/_files/n36.pdf, accessed June 20, 2006.
Kuriki, K., Nagaya, T., Tokudome, Y., Imaeda, N., Fujiwara, N., Sato, J., Goto, C., Ikeda, M., Maki, S., Tajima, K., and Tokudome, S. (2003) Plasma Concentrations of (n−3) Highly Unsaturated Fatty Acids Are Good Biomarkers of Relative Dietary Fatty Acid Intakes: A Cross-Sectional Study, J. Nutr. 133, 3643–3650.
Roshanai, F., and Sanders, T.A. (1984) Assessment of Fatty Acid Intakes in Vegans and Omnivores, Hum. Nutr. Appl. Nutr. 38, 345–354.
Rosell, M.S., Lloyd-Wright, Z., Appleby, P.N., Sanders, T.A., Allen, N.E., and Key, T.J. (2005) Long-Chain n−3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Plasma in British Meat-Eating, Vegetarian and Vegan Men, Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 82, 327–334.
Li, D., Siriamornpun, S., Wahlqvist, M.L., Mann, N.J., and Sinclair, A.J. (2005) Lean Meat and Heart Health Asia Pacific J. Clin. Nutr. 14, 113–119.
Mann, N.J. (2005) Omega-3 Fatty Acids from Red Meat in the Australian Diet, Lipid Technol. 17(4), 79–82.
De Lorgeril, M. (2004) Nutritional Trials for the Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease, Asia Pac. J. Clin. Nutr. 13, S2.
Donaldson, M.S. (2004) Nutrition and Cancer: A Review of the Evidence for an Anti-Cancer Diet, Nutr. J. 3, 19.
About this article
Cite this article
Mann, N., Pirotta, Y., O'Connell, S. et al. Fatty acid composition of habitual omnivore and vegetarian diets. Lipids 41, 637–646 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11745-006-5014-9
- Plasma Phospholipid
- PUFA Intake
- Habitual Diet
- Thrombotic Risk Factor
- Vegan Group