Effect of short-term low- and high-fat diets on low-density lipoprotein particle size in normolipidemic subjects

Metabolism. 2012 Jan;61(1):76-83. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2011.06.002. Epub 2011 Aug 3.


High-fat, low-carbohydrate diets have been shown to raise plasma cholesterol levels, an effect associated with the formation of large low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles. However, the impact of dietary intervention on time-course changes in LDL particle size has not been investigated. To test whether a short-term dietary intervention affects LDL particle size, we conducted a randomized, double-blind, crossover study using an intensive dietary modification in 12 nonobese healthy men with normal plasma lipid profile. Participants were subjected to 2 isocaloric 3-day diets: high-fat diet (37% energy from fat and 50% from carbohydrates) and low-fat diet (25% energy from fat and 62% from carbohydrates). Plasma lipid levels and LDL particle size were assessed on fasting blood samples after 3 days of feeding on each diet. The LDL particles were characterized by polyacrylamide gradient gel electrophoresis. Compared with the low-fat diet, plasma cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol were significantly increased (4.45 vs 4.78 mmol/L, P = .04; 2.48 vs 2.90 mmol/L, P = .005; and 1.29 vs 1.41 mmol/L, P = .005, respectively) following the 3-day high-fat diet. Plasma triglycerides and fasting apolipoprotein B-48 levels were significantly decreased after the high-fat diet compared with the low-fat diet (1.48 vs 1.01 mmol/L, P = .0003 and 9.6 vs 5.5 mg/L, P = .008, respectively). The high-fat diet was also associated with a significant increase in LDL particle size (255.0 vs 255.9 Å;P = .01) and a significant decrease in the proportion of small LDL particle (<255.0 Å) (50.7% vs 44.6%, P = .01). As compared with a low-fat diet, the cholesterol-raising effect of a high-fat diet is associated with the formation of large LDL particles after only 3 days of feeding.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Apolipoprotein B-48 / blood
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Diet, Fat-Restricted*
  • Diet, High-Fat*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / adverse effects
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats / adverse effects
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Fasting / blood
  • Humans
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / blood*
  • Male
  • Particle Size
  • Triglycerides / blood*


  • Apolipoprotein B-48
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Lipoproteins, LDL
  • Triglycerides