Exchanging carbohydrates for monounsaturated fats in energy-restricted diets: effects on metabolic profile and other cardiovascular risk factors

Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003 Jun;27(6):648-56. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0802299.


Objective: To investigate whether improvements in cardiovascular risk factors, as observed in energy-balance conditions after exchanging carbohydrates (CHO) for monounsaturated (MUFA) fats, are also observed in energy-restricted conditions.

Design: Longitudinal, clinical intervention study using two types of energy-restricted diets (-30% of initial energy intake) with similar levels of saturated and polyunsaturated fats: a high CHO diet (55% of energy from CHOs, 10% from MUFAs) and a high MUFA diet (40% of energy from CHOs, 25% from MUFAs).

Subjects: A total of 32 overweight subjects (nine males, 23 females, BMI: 26-45 kg/m(2)).

Measurements: Body weight, serum lipids, fasting plasma insulin and phospholipid fatty acid composition of red blood cells were measured at baseline and after 8 weeks. Various oxidative status parameters (plasma lipid hydroperoxides, total plasma antioxidant capacity, plasma uric acid and vitamin E) and serum-induced smooth muscular cell (SMC) proliferation were also measured at these time points.

Results: Weight loss (1.1 kg/week over the first 4 weeks and 6.7 kg at week 8) was not significantly affected by the diet composition. Both diets reduced significantly total serum cholesterol, but the MUFA-rich diet showed better effects on fasting serum triacylglycerol (TG) than the CHO-rich diet: 1.18 vs 1.51 mmol/l for the MUFA-rich diet (after vs before, P<0.05) and 1.42 vs 1.62 for the CHO-rich diet. After 8 weeks, plasma vitamin E concentrations were positively associated with the oleic acid level of red blood cell phospholipids and showed opposite variations in both diets (increase with the MUFA-rich diet and decrease with the CHO-rich diet). Relative changes in SMC proliferation induced by sera were negatively associated with the ratio oleic:linoleic acid of red blood cell phospholipids and were significantly higher with the CHO-rich diet.

Conclusions: The MUFA-rich diet showed better effects on serum TG than the CHO-rich diet, even with energy restriction and weight loss. The results suggest also a protective effect of oleic acid on oxidative stress and SMC proliferation, two other important cardiovascular risk factors.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cholesterol, HDL / metabolism
  • Cholesterol, LDL / metabolism
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / metabolism*
  • Dietary Fats / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Weight Loss / physiology*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Insulin