A recent study from researchers in Australia have found that eating foods rich in saturated fat may raise levels of the so-called 'bad' cholesterol (LDL-cholesterol) and actually inhibit the positive action of HDL ('good') cholesterol. Previous findings have suggested that elevated levels of saturated fat, found in a wide range of common foods, including meat products, hard cheese, cream and palm oil, can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which increases the chance of developing heart disease. To examine the effects of saturated fat, researchers recruited 14 adults and asked them to eat a meal containing either a polyunsaturated or a saturated fat on two different occasions. The meals contained the same number of calories. Six hours after the meal, blood samples were taken and the action of HDL on the production of different molecules associated with inflammation. The researchers looked at endothelial levels of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), both of these molecules are involved in the immune system response and raised levels are associated with inflammation. The HDL-cholesterol collected after eating the saturated fat meal were found to be less effective than HDL isolated from fasting plasma. Moreover, HDL collected after eating the polyunsaturated meal was found to have an increased inhibitory activity than even the HDL collected from fasting plasma. Although these findings, published in the August 2006 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, are a result of a small sample size, researchers suggest the findings have broad implications and further studies are needed to further examine the relationship.
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