SFAs do not impair endothelial function and arterial stiffness

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Background: It is uncertain whether saturated fatty acids (SFAs) impair endothelial function and contribute to arterial stiffening.

Objective: We tested the effects of replacing SFAs with monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) or carbohydrates on endothelial function and arterial stiffness.

Design: With the use of a parallel-designed randomized controlled trial in 121 insulin-resistant men and women, we measured vascular function after 1 mo of consumption of a high-SFA (HS) diet and after 24 wk after random assignment to the HS diet or diets that contained <10% SFAs and were high in either MUFAs or carbohydrates. The primary outcome was a change in flow-mediated dilation (FMD), and secondary outcomes were changes in carotid to femoral pulse wave velocity (PWV) and plasma 8-isoprostane F2α-III concentrations.

Results: For 112 participants with data available for analysis on the specified outcomes, no significant differences were shown. FMD with the HS reference diet was 6.7 ± 2.2%, and changes (95% CIs) after 6 mo of intervention were +0.3 (−0.4, 1.1), −0.2 (−0.8, 0.5), and −0.1 (−0.6, 0.7) with HS, high-MUFA (HM), and high-carbohydrate (HC) diets, respectively. After consumption of the HS reference diet, the geometric mean (±SD) PWV was 7.67 ± 1.62 m/s, and mean percentages of changes (95% CIs) were −1.0 (−6.2, 4.3) with the HS diet, 2.7 (−1.4, 6.9) with the HM diet, and −1.0 (−5.5, 3.4) with the HC diet. With the HS reference diet, the geometric mean (±SD) plasma 8-isoprostane F2α-III concentration was 176 ± 85 pmol/L, and mean percentage of changes (95% CIs) were 1 (−12, 14) with the HS diet, 6 (−5, 16) with the HM diet, and 4 (−7, 16) with the HC diet.

Conclusion: The replacement of SFAs with MUFAs or carbohydrates in healthy subjects does not affect vascular function. This trial was registered at Current Controlled Trials (http://www.controlled-trials.com/ISRCTN) as ISRCTN 29111298.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677-683
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013


  • Adult
  • Diet
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Dinoprost
  • Endothelium, Vascular
  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulse
  • Vascular Diseases
  • Vascular Stiffness
  • Vasodilation


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