Effects of dietary fatty acids on the composition and oxidizability of low-density lipoprotein

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2002 Jan;56(1):72-81. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601288.


Objective: The objective of this study was to compare the effects of dietary monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), n-6 and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) on LDL composition and oxidizability.

Design, setting and subjects: Sixty-nine healthy young volunteers, students at a nearby college, were included. Six subjects withdrew because of intercurrent illness and five withdrew because they were unable to comply with the dietary regimen.

Interventions: The participants received a 2-week wash-in diet rich in saturated fatty acids (SFA) followed by diets rich in refined olive oil, rapeseed oil or sunflower oil for 4 weeks. Intakes of vitamin E and other antioxidants did not differ significantly between the diets.

Results: At the end of the study, LDL oxidizability was lowest in the olive oil group (lag time: 72.6 min), intermediate in the rapeseed oil group (68.2 min) and highest in the sunflower oil group (60.4 min, P<0.05 for comparison of all three groups). Despite wide variations in SFA intake, the SFA content of LDL was not statistically different between the four diets (25.8-28.5% of LDL fatty acids). By contrast, the PUFA (43.5%-60.5% of LDL fatty acids) and MUFA content of LDL (13.7-29.1% of LDL fatty acids) showed a wider variability dependent on diet.

Conclusions: Enrichment of LDL with MUFA reduces LDL susceptibility to oxidation. As seen on the rapeseed oil diet this effect is independent of a displacement of higher unsaturated fatty acids from LDL. Evidence from this diet also suggests that highly unsaturated n-3 fatty acids in moderate amounts do not increase LDL oxidizability when provided in the context of a diet rich in MUFA.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood*
  • Diet Records
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / administration & dosage*
  • Energy Intake / physiology
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated / administration & dosage*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Plant Oils / administration & dosage*
  • Reference Values
  • Tocopherols / blood*
  • Triglycerides / blood*


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Plant Oils
  • Triglycerides
  • Tocopherols