Dietary Monounsaturated Fatty Acids Are Protective Against Metabolic Syndrome and Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors

Abstract

Over 50 years of research has sought to define the role dietary fat plays in cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. Although optimal dietary fat quantity has been keenly pursued over past decades, attention has recently centered on the value of dietary fat quality. The purpose of the present review is to provide a critical assessment of the current body of evidence surrounding efficacy of dietary monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) for reduction of traditional risk factors defining metabolic syndrome (MetS) and CVD. Due to existing and emerging research on health attributes of MUFA rich diets, and to the low prevalence of chronic disease in populations consuming MUFA rich Mediterranean diets, national dietary guidelines are increasingly recommending dietary MUFA, primarily at the expense of saturated fatty acids (SFA). Consumption of dietary MUFA promotes healthy blood lipid profiles, mediates blood pressure, improves insulin sensitivity and regulates glucose levels. Moreover, provocative newer data suggest a role for preferential oxidation and metabolism of dietary MUFA, influencing body composition and ameliorating the risk of obesity. Mounting epidemiological and human clinical trial data continue to demonstrate the cardioprotective activity of the MUFA content of dietary fat. As the debate on the optimal fatty acid composition of the diet continues, the benefit of increasing MUFA intakes, particularly as a substitute for dietary SFA, deserves considerable attention.

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Fig. 1

Abbreviations

ALA:

Alpha-linolenic acid

BMI:

Body mass index

CHD:

Coronary heart disease

CHO:

Carbohydrate

CVD:

Cardiovascular disease

DM:

Diabetes mellitus

HDL-C:

High-density lipoprotein cholesterol

LF:

Lower fat

LNA:

Linoleic acid

LDL-C:

Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol

MetS:

Metabolic syndrome

MF:

Moderate fat

MUFA:

Monounsaturated fatty acids

OLA:

Oleic acid

PUFA:

Polyunsaturated fatty acids

SFA:

Saturated fatty acids

STA:

Stearic acid

TAG:

Triglyceride

TC:

Total cholesterol

TFA:

Trans fatty acids

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Gillingham, L.G., Harris-Janz, S. & Jones, P.J.H. Dietary Monounsaturated Fatty Acids Are Protective Against Metabolic Syndrome and Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors. Lipids 46, 209–228 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11745-010-3524-y

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Keywords

  • Monounsaturated fatty acids
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Fatty acids
  • Lipids
  • Nutrition