According to researchers at the University if Alabama at Birmingham, New York Obesity Research Center and Frito-Lay, replacing unhealthy fats with healthy ones may reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD), more than reducing the quantity of fat.
In the small study, researchers recruited 33 volunteers and randomly assigned them to receive snacks classified as low-fat (31% calories from fat, 5% calories from polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs)), high-PUFA (36% calories from fat, 10% calories from PUFAs) or high-fat (38% calories from fat, 6% calories from PUFAs).
After 25 days, participants crossed over to consume one of the other snacks.
Researchers found that each diet led to a reduction in total and LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels, the greatest reductions were observed in the low-fat and high-PUFA diets, compared to the high-fat diet.
LDL cholesterol levels were cut by 13 percent from the high-PUFA diet, compared to 12 percent from the low-fat diet, and 9 percent from the high-fat diet.
Total cholesterol levels were cut by 10.7 percent for the high-PUFA diet, compared to 10.5 percent from the low-fat diet, and 8 percent from the high-fat diet.
The high-PUFA diet also led to a 9 percent reduction in triacylglycerol concentrations, significantly greater than any reduction from the low-fat or high-fat diet.
Further studies are needed to fully examine the effects of quality of fat, compared to quantity of fat in terms of CVD risk factors.
These latest findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
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