HDL-subpopulation patterns in response to reductions in dietary total and saturated fat intakes in healthy subjects

Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 Dec;70(6):992-1000. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/70.6.992.


Background: Little information is available about HDL subpopulations during dietary changes.

Objective: The objective was to investigate the effect of reductions in total and saturated fat intakes on HDL subpopulations.

Design: Multiracial, young and elderly men and women (n = 103) participating in the double-blind, randomized DELTA (Dietary Effects on Lipoproteins and Thrombogenic Activities) Study consumed 3 different diets, each for 8 wk: an average American diet (AAD: 34.3% total fat,15.0% saturated fat), the American Heart Association Step I diet (28.6% total fat, 9.0% saturated fat), and a diet low in saturated fat (25.3% total fat, 6.1% saturated fat).

Results: HDL(2)-cholesterol concentrations, by differential precipitation, decreased (P < 0.001) in a stepwise fashion after the reduction of total and saturated fat: 0.58 +/- 0.21, 0.53 +/- 0.19, and 0.48 +/- 0.18 mmol/L with the AAD, Step I, and low-fat diets, respectively. HDL(3) cholesterol decreased (P < 0.01) less: 0.76 +/- 0.13, 0.73 +/- 0.12, and 0.72 +/- 0.11 mmol/L with the AAD, Step I, and low-fat diets, respectively. As measured by nondenaturing gradient gel electrophoresis, the larger-size HDL(2b) subpopulation decreased with the reduction in dietary fat, and a corresponding relative increase was seen for the smaller-sized HDL(3a, 3b), and (3c) subpopulations (P < 0.01). HDL(2)-cholesterol concentrations correlated negatively with serum triacylglycerol concentrations on all 3 diets: r = -0.46, -0.37, and -0.45 with the AAD, Step I, and low-fat diets, respectively (P < 0.0001). A similar negative correlation was seen for HDL(2b), whereas HDL(3a, 3b), and (3c) correlated positively with triacylglycerol concentrations. Diet-induced changes in serum triacylglycerol were negatively correlated with changes in HDL(2) and HDL(2b) cholesterol.

Conclusions: A reduction in dietary total and saturated fat decreased both large (HDL(2) and HDL(2b)) and small, dense HDL subpopulations, although decreases in HDL(2) and HDL(2b) were most pronounced.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Black People
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood*
  • Cholesterol, HDL / classification
  • Cholesterol, HDL / drug effects
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Diet, Fat-Restricted*
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • United States
  • White People


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Dietary Fats
  • Triglycerides