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Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2003 Oct;13(5):273-7.

A reduction in dietary saturated fat decreases body fat content in overweight, hypercholesterolemic males.

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  • 1Lipid and Atherosclerosis Unit, Reina Sofía Hospital, Avda. Menéndez Pidal, s/n 14004 Córdoba, Spain.



The effect of the quality of dietary fat on body composition is unknown. Our objective was to determine whether body composition is modified by the isocaloric substitution of a diet rich in saturated fat by a diet high in monounsaturated fat (Mediterranean diet) or a carbohydrate-rich diet in overweight subjects with hypercholesterolemia.


The study involved 34 hypercholesterolemic males aged 18-63 years with a body mass index (BMI) of 28.2 (2.6), all of whom consumed a diet rich in saturated fat (SAT) for 28 days. They were then randomly divided into two groups of 17 subjects and underwent two dietary periods of 28 days each in a crossover design: a Mediterranean diet high in monounsaturated fat (MONO) and a carbohydrate-rich diet (CHO). The order of the diets was different for the two group. The CHO diet contained 57% CHO and 28% total fat (< 10% saturated fat, 12% monounsaturated fat and 6% polyunsaturated fat); the Mediterranean diet contained 47% CHO and 38% fat (< 10% saturated fat, 22% monounsaturated fat--75% of which was provided by olive oil- and 6% polyunsaturated fat). The variables measured at the end of each dietary intervention period were: 1) body composition by means of bioelectrical impedance; 2) plasma lipoproteins using enzymatic techniques; and 3) fatty acids in cholesterol esters by means of gas chromatography. BMI and the waist/hip ratio remained the same during the three dietary periods. A decrease in fat was observed when changing from a saturated fat diet (23.3 (6.3) kg) to a Mediterranean diet (20.8 (7.2) kg) (p < 0.05), or a carbohydrate-rich diet (20.6 (6.7) kg) (p < 0.05). Lean mass increased when changing from a SAT diet (58.4 (7.0) kg) to a CHO diet (60.2 (7.0) kg) (p < 0.05).


The isocaloric substitution of a saturated fat-rich diet by a Mediterranean or carbohydrate-rich diet decreases total body fat in hypercholesterolemic males.

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