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An exchange of a few commercially available food items leads to clinically relevant cholesterol reduction, potentially affecting future CVD risk as demonstrated by Ulven et al., 2016

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Even heart-1947624_960_720though there has been substantial reduction in CVD mortality over the last 30 years, new reports show an increase in acute myocardial infarction among the younger population in Norway, and similar observations have been reported from other countries as well.

The aim of the study conducted by Ulven et al., 2016 in Norway was to investigate the effects of exchanging a few commercially available, regularly consumed key food items (e.g. spread on bread, fat for cooking, cheese, bread and cereals) with improved fat quality on total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and inflammatory markers in a double-blind randomised, controlled trial.

In total, 115 moderately hypercholesterolaemic, non-statin-treated adults were randomly assigned to an experimental diet group or control diet group for 8 weeks with commercially available food items with different fatty acid composition (replacing SFA with mostly n-6 PUFA). The experimental food items were similar, commercially available food items with an improved fatty acid composition.

In the experimental food items, a part of the saturated fat was replaced by sunflower and rapeseed oils. Rapeseed oil is rich in n-6 PUFA, n-3 PUFA and MUFA and is a typical Nordic product. In combination with sunflower oil, rapeseed oil is known to have an effect on cholesterol. The experimental food items were therefore particularly rich in n-6 PUFA, but also contained n-3 PUFA and MUFA, thereby increasing the total unsaturated fatty acid content. The study products included liquid margarine, margarine-based spread, oil, liver pate, cheese, bread, bun or baguette, muesli cereals or flakes, cream and crème fraîche, and mayonnaise.

The difference in change between the two groups at the end of the study was −9 and −11 % in total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol, respectively. No difference in change in plasma levels of inflammatory markers was observed between the groups.

The researchers concluded that exchanging a few regularly consumed food items with improved fat quality reduces total cholesterol, with no negative effect on levels of inflammatory markers. This shows that an exchange of a few commercially available food items was easy and manageable and led to clinically relevant cholesterol reduction, potentially affecting future CVD risk.

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Reference: Ulven SM, Leder L, Elind E, Ottestad I, Christensen JJ, Telle-Hansen VH, Skjetne AJ, Raael E, Sheikh NA, Holck M, Torvik K, Lamglait A, Thyholt K, Byfuglien MG, Granlund L, Andersen LF, Holven KB. Exchanging a few commercial, regularly consumed food items with improved fat quality reduces total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol: a double-blind, randomised controlled trial. Br J Nutr. 2016 Oct;116(8):1383-1393.

You may find the abstract here: Ulven et al., 2016.

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