Dietary fatty acids and the risk of hypertension in middle-aged and older women

Hypertension. 2010 Oct;56(4):598-604. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.110.154187. Epub 2010 Aug 16.


Dietary intake of various fats may have different effects on blood pressure. We conducted a prospective cohort study to examine the association between intake of subtype and individual fatty acids (FAs) and the risk of developing hypertension among 28 100 US women aged ≥39 years and free of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Baseline intake of FAs was assessed using semiquantitative food frequency questionnaires. Incident hypertension was identified from annual follow-up questionnaires based on self-reported physician diagnosis, medication use, and blood pressure levels. A total of 13 633 women developed incident hypertension during 12.9 years of follow-up. After adjusting for demographic, lifestyle, and other dietary factors, intake of saturated FAs, monounsaturated FAs, and trans-unsaturated FAs (trans FAs) was positively associated with the risk of hypertension. The multivariable relative risks and 95% CIs of hypertension in the highest compared with the lowest quintile of intake were 1.12 (1.05 to 1.20) for saturated FAs, 1.11 (1.04 to 1.18) for monounsaturated FAs, and 1.15 (1.08 to 1.22) for trans FAs. After additional adjustment for body mass index and history of diabetes mellitus and hypercholesterolemia, these associations were attenuated and remained statistically significant only for trans FAs (relative risk in the highest quintile: 1.08; 95% CI: 1.01 to 1.15). Intake of polyunsaturated FAs, including ω3 and ω6 polyunsaturated FAs, was not significantly associated with the risk of hypertension. In conclusion, higher intake of saturated FAs, monounsaturated FAs, and trans FAs was each associated with increased risk of hypertension among middle-aged and older women, whereas only association for trans FAs remained statistically significant after adjustment for obesity-related factors.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blood Pressure / drug effects*
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats / adverse effects*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated / adverse effects
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / etiology*
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated