Effects of monounsaturated fatty acids on cardiovascular risk factors: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Ann Nutr Metab. 2011;59(2-4):176-86. doi: 10.1159/000334071. Epub 2011 Dec 2.


The appropriate pattern of macronutrient distribution for dietary protocols aimed at treating or preventing obesity and its associated cardiovascular diseases is still a controversial topic of discussion. Recommendations considering a specific percentage or range for monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) are rare. It was the aim of this study to analyze long-term, randomized, controlled dietary intervention trials and to investigate the effects of MUFA on the biomarkers of obesity and cardiovascular risk factors. Dietary regimens with a high amount of MUFA (>12%) were compared to those with ≤12%. The biomarkers taken into account were weight, waist circumference, fat mass, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triacylglycerols, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, as well as C-reactive protein. A total of 12 studies met the inclusion criteria. Data analysis was performed using the Review Manager 5.0.25 software. Significant differences between high- and low-MUFA protocols could be observed with respect to fat mass [-1.94 kg (confidence interval -3.72, -0.17), p = 0.03], systolic blood pressure [-2.26 mm Hg (confidence interval -4.28, -0.25), p = 0.03] and diastolic blood pressure [-1.15 mm Hg (confidence interval -1.96, -0.34), p = 0.005] favoring the dietary protocols with >12% MUFA. Therefore, MUFA might represent a useful tool in the design of dietary regimens for obesity and cardiovascular disease.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / drug effects
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / administration & dosage
  • Energy Intake
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Obesity / drug therapy
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • Waist Circumference / drug effects


  • Biomarkers
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated
  • Triglycerides
  • C-Reactive Protein