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Background. Metabolic studies suggest that fatty acids containing at least one double bond in the trans configuration, which are found in hydrogenated fat, have a detrimental effect on serum lipoprotein cholesterol levels as compared with unsaturated fatty acids containing double bonds only in the cis configuration. We compared the effects of diets with a broad range of trans fatty acids on serum lipoprotein cholesterol levels.
Methods. Eighteen women and 18 men consumed each of six diets in random order for 35-day periods. The foods were identical in each diet, and each diet provided 30 percent of calories as fat, with two thirds of the fat contributed as soybean oil (<0.5 g of trans fatty acid per 100 g of fat), semiliquid margarine (<0.5 g per 100 g), soft margarine (7.4 g per 100 g), shortening (9.9 g per 100 g), or stick margarine (20.1 g per 100 g). The effects of those diets on serum lipoprotein cholesterol, triglyceride, and apolipoprotein levels were compared with those of a diet enriched with butter, which has a high content of saturated fat.
Results. The mean (±SD) serum low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol level was 177±32 mg per deciliter (4.58±0.85 mmol per liter) and the mean high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol level was 45±10 mg per deciliter (1.2±0.26 mmol per liter) after subjects consumed the butter-enriched diet. The LDL cholesterol level was reduced on average by 12 percent, 11 percent, 9 percent, 7 percent, and 5 percent, respectively, after subjects consumed the diets enriched with soybean oil, semiliquid margarine, soft margarine, shortening, and stick margarine; the HDL cholesterol level was reduced by 3 percent, 4 percent, 4 percent, 4 percent, and 6 percent, respectively. Ratios of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol were lowest after the consumption of the soybean-oil diet and semiliquid-margarine diet and highest after the stick-margarine diet.
Conclusions. Our findings indicate that the consumption of products that are low in trans fatty acids and saturated fat has beneficial effects on serum lipoprotein cholesterol levels. (N Engl J Med 1999;340:1933-40.)
From the Lipid Metabolism Laboratory, Jean Mayer U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston (A.H.L., S.M.J., E.J.S.); and the School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, Medford, Mass. (L.M.A.). Address reprint requests to Dr. Lichtenstein at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, 711 Washington St., Boston, MA 02111, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.