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Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 May;65(5):1419-26.

Stearic acid, trans fatty acids, and dairy fat: effects on serum and lipoprotein lipids, apolipoproteins, lipoprotein(a), and lipid transfer proteins in healthy subjects.

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Department of Nutrition, National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland.


To compare the effects on serum lipoproteins of stearic acid, trans fatty acids, and dairy fat, 80 healthy subjects consumed a dairy fat-based (baseline) diet for 5 wk, then an experimental diet high in either trans fatty acids (8.7% of energy; n = 40) or stearic acid (9.3% of energy; n = 40) for another 5 wk. All diets provided 32.2-33.9% of energy as fat, 14.6-15.8% as saturated plus trans fatty acids, 11.4-12.5% as cis-monounsaturated fatty acids, 2.9-3.5% as polyunsaturated fatty acids, and 200-221 mg cholesterol/10 MJ. Compared with the dairy fat diet, stearic acid and trans fatty acids decreased serum total cholesterol concentrations similarly (by 13% and 12%, respectively, P < 0.001) but the trans fatty acid diet decreased HDL cholesterol (17%) and apolipoprotein (apo) A-I (15%) significantly more than did the stearic acid diet (11% and 12%, respectively). Stearic acid but not trans fatty acids reduced concentrations of LDL cholesterol and apo B significantly (P < 0.001). The trans fatty acid diet increased the ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol (19%) and of apo B to apo A-I (16%) more than did the dairy fat diet (P < 0.001) but the stearic acid diet had no effect. Lipoprotein(a) concentrations increased with both experimental diets, significantly more with trans fatty acids (30%) than with stearic acid (10%). In conclusion, high amounts of trans fatty acids had more adverse effects on lipoproteins than did equal amounts of stearic acid and dairy fat. Stearic acid reduced LDL cholesterol, did not affect the ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol, and increased lipoprotein(a), although to a lesser extent than did trans fatty acids. Dietary fats low in both saturated fatty acids and trans fatty acids should be favored.

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