Background: Low-fat diets increase plasma triacylglycerol and decrease HDL-cholesterol concentrations, thereby potentially adversely affecting cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. High-monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA), cholesterol-lowering diets do not raise triacylglycerol or lower HDL cholesterol, but little is known about how peanut products, a rich source of MUFAs, affect CVD risk.
Objective: The present study compared the CVD risk profile of an Average American diet (AAD) with those of 4 cholesterol-lowering diets: an American Heart Association/National Cholesterol Education Program Step II diet and 3 high-MUFA diets [olive oil (OO), peanut oil (PO), and peanuts and peanut butter (PPB)].
Design: A randomized, double-blind, 5-period crossover study design (n = 22) was used to examine the effects of the diets on serum lipids and lipoproteins: AAD [34% fat; 16% saturated fatty acids (SFAs), 11% MUFAs], Step II (25% fat; 7% SFAs, 12% MUFAs), OO (34% fat; 7% SFAs, 21% MUFAs), PO (34% fat; 7% SFAs, 17% MUFAs), and PPB (36% fat; 8% SFAs, 18% MUFAs).
Results: The high-MUFA diets lowered total cholesterol by 10% and LDL cholesterol by 14%. This response was comparable with that observed for the Step II diet. Triacylglycerol concentrations were 13% lower in subjects consuming the high-MUFA diets and were 11% higher with the Step II diet than with the AAD. The high-MUFA diets did not lower HDL cholesterol whereas the Step II diet lowered it by 4% compared with the AAD. The OO, PO, and PPB diets decreased CVD risk by an estimated 25%, 16%, and 21%, respectively, whereas the Step II diet lowered CVD risk by 12%.
Conclusion: A high-MUFA, cholesterol-lowering diet may be preferable to a low-fat diet because of more favorable effects on the CVD risk profile.