The Effects of Saturated Fat on Cardiovascular Risk markers: Total Cholesterol, High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol and Body Composition.
Hayward, Adrian John
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Health promotion guidelines have focussed on reducing the amount of saturated fat consumed in the diet since high intakes were first identified as a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease over 50 years ago. As the number of studies into the effects of saturated fats on health has increased, these guidelines have become more contentious. Many now suggest that limiting saturated fats in isolation does not reduce risk. This has caused debate amongst researchers and confusion about dietary advice messages within the population in general. This study aimed to investigate the associations between dietary saturated fat and a number of body composition and lipid-based markers commonly linked with cardiovascular disease risk. This cross-sectional study recruited 25 participants (12 females and 13 males, mean age 21 ±1.8) from within the student population. Each attended one clinical session during which body mass index and percentage body fat were measured. Blood samples were taken and the lipid biomarkers, total cholesterol (TC) and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) were measured. Typical diets were assessed with prospective 7-day food diaries and percentage saturated fat calculated. Non high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (non HDL-C) was calculated as TC minus HDL-C. The TC:HDL ratio was calculated as TC divided by HDL-C. Weak, non-significant positive correlations were found between saturated fat and total cholesterol in the cohort as a whole (r= 0.38, p=0.06) and in females (r= 0.41, p= 0.186). A weak positive correlation was found between saturated fat and HDL-C in females (r= 0.39, p= 0.449). No other meaningful associations were found between saturated fat and measured lipid markers. No significant difference was found in TC levels between normal and high SFA intake groups (p= 0.259). In males, saturated fat was positively associated with BMI (r= 0.49, p= 0.914) and percentage body fat (r= 0.47, p= 0.104). Lipid profiles were significantly affected by body composition. There were significant positive correlations between percentage body fat and total cholesterol in females (r= 0.61, p= 0.04) and males (r= 0.68, p= 0.01), and BMI and non HDL-Cholesterol in the cohort (r= 0.56, p= 0.02). A strong, significant negative correlation was found between percentage body fat and HDL-Cholesterol in females (r= 0.92, p= 0.02). No significant associations were found between high dietary intakes of saturated fat and any of the lipid markers associated with cardiovascular disease, although some reservations regarding sample sizes and the validity of the participant’s dietary records mean the results should be treated with caution. In conclusion, this study does not support the diet-heart hypothesis, which links saturated fat intakes to cardiovascular disease mortality risk. However, the results did indicate that high adiposity does influence blood lipids in a way that could increase cardiovascular disease risk.
BSc Biomedical Sciences (Health, Excercise & Nutrition)
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