Thomas Sanders
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Personal profile

Research interests

The main focus of our research is on the mechanisms by which diet influences risk of cardiovascular disease. Much of our research has been involved with differentiating the effects of different types of fatty acids(trans fatty acids, omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, oleic acid, and different chain length saturated fatty acids) as well as the relative proportions of fat and type of carbohydrate on cardiovascular risk factors. More recently, we have been examining the effects of saturated fatty acids of varying chain length and the influence of triglyceride structure on cardiovascular risk, including insulin secretion and sensitivity. Much of this work is relevant to replacing industrial produced trans fats. Our research suggests that stearic acid is neutral with regard to cardiovascular risk and this can be used to produce high melting point fats in products that previously contained trans fats. In addition to the work on dietary lipids and carbohydrates we have an interest in the biologically active components in plant foods such as isoflavones and flavonoids.

Wherever possible, we try to take a holistic view with regard to dietary intake and are interested in the effects of overall dietary patterns. We have a long-standing interest in comparing the health of vegans with vegetarians, who consume milk and eggs, and omnivores, who eat meat/or fish in addition to milk and eggs. We also have an interest in the acute effects resulting from the consumption of certain foods as well as the longer term effects.

Our group has specific expertise in the measurement of polyunsaturated fatty acids and other lipids including eicosanoids. Perhaps what differentiates the work of our group from other groups working on dietary lipids is that we have tended to focus on the interaction between the effects of dietary lipids and changes in haemostasis. Our work was among the first to show that meals high in fat induce activation of clotting factor VII and impair endothelial function. Our most recent work in this area indicates that meals high in oleic acid may have adverse effects on procoagulant activity and endothelial function compared with meals containing stearic acid.

We endeavour to foster cross-disciplinary research and seek to work with people with expertise that complements our own. We have much experience in the design and execution of controlled dietary intervention trials. I have a long term interest in assessing the risks/benefits associated with food and this is reflected in the work I have done on British Nutrition Foundation Task Forces (most recently on Nutrition and Development), EU Projects such as the BRAFO project which developmed methodology for assessing risks and benefits of foods and as well as participation in expert consultations with the United Nations WHO/FAO.

Research interests (short)

Lipids, dietary influences on cardiovascular risk, food safety.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Science, University of London

Award Date: 1 Jan 1996

Doctor of Philosophy, University of London

Award Date: 1 Jan 1977

Bachelor of Science, Queen Elizabeth College (University of London)

Award Date: 1 Jan 1971

External positions

Programme Advisory Committee, MPOB Malaysian Palm Oil Board

2007 → …

Honorary Nutritional Director, Heart UK

2003 → …

Scientific Governor, British Nutrition Foundation

2000 → …

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