Purpose of review: Modulation of diet is the primary lifestyle approach for reducing cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, with a major focus of current guidelines being to lower LDL cholesterol by reducing intake of saturated fatty acids. However, dietary effects on lipid-related CVD risk factors extend beyond LDL cholesterol, with growing emphasis on the prevention and management of atherogenic dyslipidemia, which includes elevated triglyceride, small dense LDL, and reduced HDL cholesterol, and which is associated with excess adiposity and insulin resistance. We here review recent studies of dietary macronutrient effects on CVD risk that may act through effects on plasma lipid and lipoprotein metabolism.
Recent findings: Effects of reducing saturated fatty acids on CVD risk have been evaluated both in terms of the replacement macronutrient(s) and the food and dietary context in which the macronutrients are consumed. Although weight loss remains the most important goal for reducing cardiometabolic risk among overweight and obese individuals, a variety of lines of evidence support limitation of added sugars and processed starches for improving features of atherogenic dyslipidemia.
Summary: Increasing understanding of the complexity of nutrient-disease relationships has shifted the framework for CVD prevention from a focus on macronutrient content of diets to foods and dietary patterns.