Will a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet lower plasma lipids and lipoproteins without producing hypertriglyceridemia?

Arterioscler Thromb. 1991 Jul-Aug;11(4):1059-67. doi: 10.1161/01.atv.11.4.1059.


A sudden increase in dietary carbohydrate invariably increases the plasma levels of very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) and triglyceride. The present studies were designed to test the hypothesis that dietary carbohydrate-induced hypertriglyceridemia need not occur. In the first study we fed gradually increasing amounts of carbohydrate and gradually decreasing amounts of fat to eight subjects. The usual American diet (40% fat, 45% carbohydrate, and 15% protein) was followed in sequence by four diets in a phased regimen, the carbohydrate increasing by 5% of total calories and the fat content decreasing by 5% for each dietary period. In the last dietary period (phase 4), 20% of the energy was in the form of fat and 65% in the form of carbohydrates; the cholesterol content was 100 mg/day. Throughout the study, plasma triglyceride and VLDL triglyceride levels did not change significantly. The plasma total and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels were greatly reduced, by 15% and 22%, respectively (p = 0.004). Plasma high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels decreased concomitantly. In the second study, after a washout period six of the subjects were initially fed the phase 4 high-carbohydrate diet for a 10-day period. The plasma triglyceride concentration increased over baseline levels by 47%, and VLDL triglyceride levels increased by 73%. We conclude that although a sudden increase in dietary carbohydrate increases the plasma triglyceride level, patients gradually introduced to a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet may achieve a significant reduction of plasma total and LDL cholesterol without developing carbohydrate-induced hypertriglyceridemia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Apoproteins / blood
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood*
  • Cholesterol, VLDL / blood*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertriglyceridemia / blood*
  • Hypertriglyceridemia / etiology
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Apoproteins
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Cholesterol, VLDL
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Lipids
  • Triglycerides
  • Cholesterol