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J Nutr. 2005 Sep;135(9):2075-8.

Mechanisms by which dietary fatty acids modulate plasma lipids.

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Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA.


Dietary fatty acids have a considerable effect on plasma LDL cholesterol (LDL-C) concentrations and therefore on the risk for coronary heart disease. Numerous studies have been conducted in animal models to elucidate the mechanisms by which different types of fatty acids modulate plasma cholesterol concentrations. In addition, multiple clinical trials and epidemiological data have demonstrated the effects of fatty acids in determining the concentrations of circulating LDL. SFAs and trans fatty acids have a detrimental effect on plasma lipids, whereas PUFAs of the (n-6) family and monounsaturated fatty acids decrease plasma LDL-C concentrations. Among the SFAs, stearic acid (18:0) appears to have a neutral effect on LDL-C, while lauric (12:0), myristic (14:0), and palmitic (16:0) acids are considered to be hypercholesterolemic. SFAs increase plasma LDL-C by increasing the formation of LDL in the plasma compartment and by decreasing LDL turnover. Although unsaturated fatty acids increase cholesterol synthesis, they also increase hepatic LDL receptor number and LDL turnover in vivo. Fatty acids are also ligands of important regulatory elements, which can play a role in determining plasma cholesterol. This article presents a summary of the major effects of various types of fatty acids on plasma lipid concentrations and the mechanisms involved.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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