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Concept: Fat


Background Observational cohort studies and a secondary prevention trial have shown an inverse association between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and cardiovascular risk. We conducted a randomized trial of this diet pattern for the primary prevention of cardiovascular events. Methods In a multicenter trial in Spain, we randomly assigned participants who were at high cardiovascular risk, but with no cardiovascular disease at enrollment, to one of three diets: a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts, or a control diet (advice to reduce dietary fat). Participants received quarterly individual and group educational sessions and, depending on group assignment, free provision of extra-virgin olive oil, mixed nuts, or small nonfood gifts. The primary end point was the rate of major cardiovascular events (myocardial infarction, stroke, or death from cardiovascular causes). On the basis of the results of an interim analysis, the trial was stopped after a median follow-up of 4.8 years. Results A total of 7447 persons were enrolled (age range, 55 to 80 years); 57% were women. The two Mediterranean-diet groups had good adherence to the intervention, according to self-reported intake and biomarker analyses. A primary end-point event occurred in 288 participants. The multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios were 0.70 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.54 to 0.92) and 0.72 (95% CI, 0.54 to 0.96) for the group assigned to a Mediterranean diet with extra-virgin olive oil (96 events) and the group assigned to a Mediterranean diet with nuts (83 events), respectively, versus the control group (109 events). No diet-related adverse effects were reported. Conclusions Among persons at high cardiovascular risk, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts reduced the incidence of major cardiovascular events. (Funded by the Spanish government’s Instituto de Salud Carlos III and others; number, ISRCTN35739639 .).

Concepts: Greece, Low-density lipoprotein, Mediterranean diet, Fat, Cardiovascular disease, Olive oil, Atherosclerosis, Myocardial infarction


To investigate the contribution of ultra-processed foods to the intake of added sugars in the USA. Ultra-processed foods were defined as industrial formulations which, besides salt, sugar, oils and fats, include substances not used in culinary preparations, in particular additives used to imitate sensorial qualities of minimally processed foods and their culinary preparations.

Concepts: Carbohydrate, Food processing, Food, Fat, Sugar, Water, Nutrition, Flavor


To systematically review associations between intake of saturated fat and trans unsaturated fat and all cause mortality, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and associated mortality, coronary heart disease (CHD) and associated mortality, ischemic stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

Concepts: Hypertension, Heart disease, Heart, Fat, Saturated fat, Nutrition, Fatty acid, Unsaturated fat


Dietary guidelines recommend avoiding foods high in saturated fat. Yet, emerging evidence suggests cardiometabolic benefits of dairy products and dairy fat. Evidence on the role of butter, with high saturated dairy fat content, for total mortality, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes remains unclear. We aimed to systematically review and meta-analyze the association of butter consumption with all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes in general populations.

Concepts: Dairy product, Systematic review, Diabetes mellitus type 2, Fat, Saturated fat, Milk, Butter, Nutrition


BACKGROUND: Avocados contain monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) dietary fiber, essential nutrients and phytochemicals. However, no epidemiologic data exist on their effects on diet quality, weight management and other metabolic disease risk factors. The objective of this research was to investigate the relationships between avocado consumption and overall diet quality, energy and nutrient intakes, physiological indicators of health, and risk of metabolic syndrome. METHODS: Avocado consumption and nutrition data were based on 24-hour dietary recalls collected by trained NHANES interviewers using the USDA Automated Multiple Pass Method (AMPM). Physiological data were collected from physical examinations conducted in NHANES Mobile Examination Centers. Diet quality was calculated using the USDA’s Healthy Eating Index-2005. Subjects included 17,567 US adults >19 years of age (49% female), including 347 avocado consumers (50% female), examined in NHANES 2001–2008. Least square means, standard errors, and ANOVA were determined using appropriate sample weights, with adjustments for age, gender, ethnicity, and other covariates depending on dependent variable of interest. RESULTS: Avocado consumers had significantly higher intakes of vegetables (p < 0.05); fruit, diet quality, total fat, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, dietary fiber, vitamins E, K, magnesium, and potassium (p < 0.0001); vitamin K (p = 0.0013); and lower intakes of added sugars (p < 0.0001). No significant differences were seen in calorie or sodium intakes. Body weight, BMI, and waist circumference were significantly lower (p < 0.01), and HDL-C was higher (p < 0.01) in avocado consumers. The odds ratio for metabolic syndrome was 50% (95th CI: 0.32-0.72) lower in avocado consumers vs. non-consumers. CONCLUSIONS: Avocado consumption is associated with improved overall diet quality, nutrient intake, and reduced risk of metabolic syndrome. Dietitians should be aware of the beneficial associations between avocado intake, diet and health when making dietary recommendations.

Concepts: Obesity, Monounsaturated fat, Unsaturated fat, Avocado, Epidemiology, Vitamin, Fat, Nutrition


This article describes the nutrient and elemental composition, including residues of herbicides and pesticides, of 31 soybean batches from Iowa, USA. The soy samples were grouped into three different categories: (i) genetically modified, glyphosate-tolerant soy (GM-soy); (ii) unmodified soy cultivated using a conventional “chemical” cultivation regime; and (iii) unmodified soy cultivated using an organic cultivation regime. Organic soybeans showed the healthiest nutritional profile with more sugars, such as glucose, fructose, sucrose and maltose, significantly more total protein, zinc and less fibre than both conventional and GM-soy. Organic soybeans also contained less total saturated fat and total omega-6 fatty acids than both conventional and GM-soy. GM-soy contained high residues of glyphosate and AMPA (mean 3.3 and 5.7 mg/kg, respectively). Conventional and organic soybean batches contained none of these agrochemicals. Using 35 different nutritional and elemental variables to characterise each soy sample, we were able to discriminate GM, conventional and organic soybeans without exception, demonstrating “substantial non-equivalence” in compositional characteristics for ‘ready-to-market’ soybeans.

Concepts: Saturated fat, Soybean, Omega-3 fatty acid, Fat, Sucrose, Glucose, Fatty acid, Nutrition


Considerable mechanistic data indicate there may be a sixth basic taste: fat. However, evidence demonstrating that the sensation of nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA, the proposed stimuli for “fat taste”) differs qualitatively from other tastes is lacking. Using perceptual mapping, we demonstrate that medium and long-chain NEFA have a taste sensation that is distinct from other basic tastes (sweet, sour, salty, and bitter). Although some overlap was observed between these NEFA and umami taste, this overlap is likely due to unfamiliarity with umami sensations rather than true similarity. Shorter chain fatty acids stimulate a sensation similar to sour, but as chain length increases this sensation changes. Fat taste oral signaling, and the different signals caused by different alkyl chain lengths, may hold implications for food product development, clinical practice, and public health policy.

Concepts: Difference, Tongue, Food, Fatty acid metabolism, Fat, Nutrition, Fatty acid, Taste


The obesity epidemic in the U.S. has led to extensive research into potential contributing dietary factors, especially fat and fructose. Recently, increased consumption of soybean oil, which is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), has been proposed to play a causal role in the epidemic. Here, we designed a series of four isocaloric diets (HFD, SO-HFD, F-HFD, F-SO-HFD) to investigate the effects of saturated versus unsaturated fat, as well as fructose, on obesity and diabetes. C57/BL6 male mice fed a diet moderately high in fat from coconut oil and soybean oil (SO-HFD, 40% kcal total fat) showed statistically significant increases in weight gain, adiposity, diabetes, glucose intolerance and insulin resistance compared to mice on a diet consisting primarily of coconut oil (HFD). They also had fatty livers with hepatocyte ballooning and very large lipid droplets as well as shorter colonic crypt length. While the high fructose diet (F-HFD) did not cause as much obesity or diabetes as SO-HFD, it did cause rectal prolapse and a very fatty liver, but no balloon injury. The coconut oil diet (with or without fructose) increased spleen weight while fructose in the presence of soybean oil increased kidney weight. Metabolomics analysis of the liver showed an increased accumulation of PUFAs and their metabolites as well as γ-tocopherol, but a decrease in cholesterol in SO-HFD. Liver transcriptomics analysis revealed a global dysregulation of cytochrome P450 (Cyp) genes in SO-HFD versus HFD livers, most notably in the Cyp3a and Cyp2c families. Other genes involved in obesity (e.g., Cidec, Cd36), diabetes (Igfbp1), inflammation (Cd63), mitochondrial function (Pdk4) and cancer (H19) were also upregulated by the soybean oil diet. Taken together, our results indicate that in mice a diet high in soybean oil is more detrimental to metabolic health than a diet high in fructose or coconut oil.

Concepts: Unsaturated fat, Glucose, Insulin, Metabolism, Fat, Saturated fat, Obesity, Nutrition


The desire to consume high volumes of fat is thought to originate from an evolutionary pressure to hoard calories, and fat is among the few energy sources that we can store over a longer time period. From an ecological perspective, however, it would be beneficial to detect fat from a distance, before ingesting it. Previous results indicate that humans detect high concentrations of fatty acids by their odor. More important though, would be the ability to detect fat content in real food products. In a series of three sequential experiments, using study populations from different cultures, we demonstrated that individuals are able to reliably detect fat content of food via odors alone. Over all three experiments, results clearly demonstrated that humans were able to detect minute differences between milk samples with varying grades of fat, even when embedded within a milk odor. Moreover, we found no relation between this performance and either BMI or dairy consumption, thereby suggesting that this is not a learned ability or dependent on nutritional traits. We argue that our findings that humans can detect the fat content of food via odors may open up new and innovative future paths towards a general reduction in our fat intake, and future studies should focus on determining the components in milk responsible for this effect.

Concepts: Carbohydrate, Eating, Saturated fat, Butter, Fat, Fatty acid, Fatty acid metabolism, Nutrition


Over-nutrition has fuelled the global epidemic of type 2 diabetes, but the role of individual macronutrients to the diabetogenic process is not well delineated. We aimed to examine the impact of dietary fatty acid intake on fasting and 2-hour plasma glucose concentrations, as well as tissue-specific insulin action governing each. Normoglycemic controls (n = 15), athletes (n = 14), and obese (n = 23), as well as people with prediabetes (n = 10) and type 2 diabetes (n = 11), were queried about their habitual diet using a Food Frequency Questionnaire. All subjects were screened by an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) and studied using the hyperinsulinemic/euglycemic clamp with infusion of 6,62H2-glucose. Multiple regression was performed to examine relationships between dietary fat intake and 1) fasting plasma glucose, 2) % suppression of endogenous glucose production, 3) 2-hour post-OGTT plasma glucose, and 4) skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity (glucose rate of disappearance (Rd) and non-oxidative glucose disposal (NOGD)). The %kcal from saturated fat (SFA) was positively associated with fasting (β = 0.303, P = 0.018) and 2-hour plasma glucose (β = 0.415, P<0.001), and negatively related to % suppression of hepatic glucose production (β = -0.245, P = 0.049), clamp Rd (β = -0.256, P = 0.001) and NOGD (β = -0.257, P = 0.001). The %kcal from trans fat was also negatively related to clamp Rd (β = -0.209, P = 0.008) and NOGD (β = -0.210, P = 0.008). In contrast, the %kcal from polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) was negatively associated with 2-hour glucose levels (β = -0.383, P = 0.001), and positively related to Rd (β = 0.253, P = 0.007) and NOGD (β = 0.246, P = 0.008). Dietary advice to prevent diabetes should consider the underlying pathophysiology of the prediabetic state.

Concepts: Unsaturated fat, Fat, Blood sugar, Saturated fat, Glucose tolerance test, Diabetes mellitus, Insulin, Nutrition