Saturated fat consumption may not be the main cause of increased blood lipid levels

C. B. Dias, R. Garg, L. G. Wood, M. L. Garg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Consumption of foods rich in saturated fatty acids (SFA) has often been associated with elevated blood lipid levels and consequently with risk for chronic diseases, including coronary heart disease. However, epidemiological and interventional studies on this topic are contradictory. While some studies have established a positive link, other studies have failed to show a significant association between saturated fat consumption and blood lipid levels, and others have even found an inverse association. Moreover, studies using animal models have demonstrated that dietary saturated fats raise blood lipid (cholesterol and triglycerides) levels only when the diet is deficient in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3PUFA). The n-3PUFA are known for their potential in the management of hyperlipidaemia for the prevention of coronary heart disease, as well as for their anti-arrhythmic, anti-aggregatory and anti-inflammatory potential. We believe that with an adequate consumption of n-3PUFA dietary saturated fat may not result in elevated blood lipid levels. Therefore, we critically evaluated the literature regarding saturated fat and blood lipid level, with an emphasis on the role of n-3PUFA on this relationship. Evidence from animal studies and few clinical trials lead to the hypothesis that there are beneficial or neutral effects of saturated fatty acids when combined with recommended levels of n-3PUFA in the diet. However, an intervention focusing on the background fat when the volunteers’ diet is supplemented with n-3PUFA is yet to be done. Proving the authenticity of this hypothesis would mean a substantial change in public health messages regarding saturated fats and their health effects; and also a change in the strategies related to prevention of chronic cardiac and artery diseases.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-195
Number of pages9
JournalMedical Hypotheses
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


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