A new study designed to lead to ‘short-term modest weight gains’ has suggested that consumption of saturated fat as a source of ‘extra’ food can lead to increased levels of ‘bad cholesterol’ while those who consume extra polyunsaturated fat may benefit from improved cholesterol markers.
The study, led by Ulf Risérus from Uppsala University in Sweden, fed 39 healthy adults an additional three muffins – made with either saturated fat from palm oil or polyunsaturated fat from sunflower oil - per day for seven weeks, in order to encourage an approximate weight gain of 3%.
Writing in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the team revealed that the weight gains associated with muffins made with saturated fat were also linked to an increase in ‘bad’ low-density lipoproteins (LDL-cholesterol), while those who gained weight from polyunsaturated fat muffins had decreased levels of LDL-cholesterol and other markers of heart disease risk.
Indeed, while the average weight gain for both groups was just 2.2%, LDL levels differed by 9% and the overall cholesterol/HDL cholesterol ratio differed as much as 18% between the two groups, said the team.
"The lowering of the cholesterol/HDL cholesterol ratio by polyunsaturated fat is of special interest because recent large studies have shown this ratio seems to predict heart disease risk even better than LDL levels alone,” commented Risérus.
"Even in early adulthood, it is important to avoid high-calorie foods and weight gain, but also it is important to consume sufficient amounts of polyunsaturated fats from non-hydrogenated vegetable oils,” he added.