Diet High in Polyunsaturated Fats May Reduce Cholesterol: Study

Diet High in Polyunsaturated Fats May Reduce Cholesterol

Diet High in Polyunsaturated Fats May Reduce CholesterolA new study published in the European Journal of Nutrition looks at the benefits of a diet rich in polyunsaturated fats. Study results suggest that a diet rich in polyunsaturated fats (i.e. foods like salmon and walnuts)  can help counterbalance the bad effects of saturated fats when consumed occasionally.

Study Method

Researchers at the University of Georgia wanted to determine metabolic reaction to meals rich in saturated fatty acid before and after a one-week diet rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids.

For the study:

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  • 26 average-weight adults consumed either a diet rich in polyunsaturated fats or a control diet. Sixteen participants followed a diet high in polyunsaturated fats (i.e. Alaskan salmon, tuna, walnuts, fish oil supplements, flax seed oil and canola oil); the other 10 followed a control diet rich in saturated fats (mainly frozen meals).
  • Participants completed a three-day “pre-diet” where they had their anthropometrics (size and proportions of the body) measured, as well as their resting metabolic rate. Participants ate saturated fatty acid meals for breakfast and lunch.
  • Fat oxidation and energy expenditure were determined for four hours after each meal.
  • Each subject then ate a diet rich in polyunsaturated fats or a control diet for seven days. After that, participants completed the post-diet visit.

Study Results

Researchers discovered that study participants who followed a diet rich in polyunsaturated fats  for seven days showed better fat burning and lower total cholesterol when compared to the control group that ate the standard American diet (higher in saturated fats but and lower in polyunsaturated fats).

Although there was no change in resting metabolic rate or energy expenditure after consuming a diet rich in polyunsaturated fats, the fasting respiratory exchange ratio increased from pre-to post- polyunsaturated fats diet.

Researchers conclude that following a diet rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids can lead to better fat oxidation—even after occasionally munching on meals rich in saturated fatty acids.


Sources for Today’s Article:
Stevenson, J. L., et al., “A PUFA-rich diet improves fat oxidation following saturated fat-rich meal,” European Journal of Nutrition, May 18, 2016;  doi:10.​1007/​s00394-016-1226-9).
Coope, J.A., “Eating diet high in polyunsaturated fats can protect against effects of ‘splurge’ meals, study finds,” UGA Today, June 1, 2016; http://news.uga.edu/releases/article/high-polyunsaturated-fat-splurge-meals-0616/.

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