Gender and Age Stratified Analyses of Nutrient and Dietary Pattern Associations with Circulating Lipid Levels Identify Novel Gender and Age-Specific Correlations

Nutrients. 2018 Nov 14;10(11):1760. doi: 10.3390/nu10111760.


Dyslipidemia is a precursor to a myriad of cardiovascular diseases in the modern world. Age, gender, and diet are known modifiers of lipid levels, however they are not frequently investigated in subset analyses. Food and nutrient intakes from National Health and Nutrition Examination Study 2001⁻2013 were used to assess the correlation between lipid levels (high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, triglycerides (TG), low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and total cholesterol (TC):HDL cholesterol ratio) and nutritional intake using linear regression. Associations were initially stratified by gender and significant gender correlations were further stratified by age. Analyses were performed at both the dietary pattern and nutrient level. Dietary pattern and fat intake correlations agreed with the literature in direction and did not demonstrate gender or age effects; however, we observed gender and age interactions among other dietary patterns and individual nutrients. These effects were independent of ethnicity, caloric intake, socioeconomic status, and physical activity. Elevated HDL cholesterol levels correlated with increasing vitamin and mineral intake in females of child bearing age but not males or older females (≥65 years). Moreover, increases in magnesium and retinol intake correlated with HDL cholesterol improvement only in females (all age groups) and males (35⁻64), respectively. Finally, a large amount of gender-specific variation was associated with TG levels. Females demonstrated positive associations with sugar and carbohydrate while males show inverse associations with polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) intake. The female-specific association increased with the ratio of carbohydrate: saturated fatty acid (SFA) intake, suggesting that gender specific dietary habits may underlie the observed TG-nutrient correlations. Our study provides evidence that a subset of previously established nutrient-lipid associations may be gender or age-specific. Such discoveries provide potential new avenues for further research into personalized nutritional approaches to treat dyslipidemia.

Keywords: HDL cholesterol; LDL cholesterol; TG; age; dyslipidemia; gender; nutrition.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Sex Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Lipids