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Concept: Polyunsaturated fat


BACKGROUND: It has been suggested that dietary patterns are associated with future risk of depressive symptoms. However, there is a paucity of prospective data that have examined the temporality of this relation. OBJECTIVE: We examined whether adherence to a healthy diet, as defined by using the Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI), was prospectively associated with depressive symptoms assessed over a 5-y period. DESIGN: Analyses were based on 4215 participants in the Whitehall II Study. AHEI scores were computed in 1991-1993 and 2003-2004. Recurrent depressive symptoms were defined as having a Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale score ≥16 or self-reported use of antidepressants in 2003-2004 and 2008-2009. RESULTS: After adjustment for potential confounders, the AHEI score was inversely associated with recurrent depressive symptoms in a dose-response fashion in women (P-trend < 0.001; for 1 SD in AHEI score; OR: 0.59; 95% CI: 0.47, 0.75) but not in men. Women who maintained high AHEI scores or improved their scores during the 10-y measurement period had 65% (OR: 0.35%; 95% CI: 0.19%, 0.64%) and 68% (OR: 0.32%; 95% CI: 0.13%, 0.78%) lower odds of subsequent recurrent depressive symptoms than did women who maintained low AHEI scores. Among AHEI components, vegetable, fruit, trans fat, and the ratio of polyunsaturated fat to saturated fat components were associated with recurrent depressive symptoms in women. CONCLUSION: In the current study, there was a suggestion that poor diet is a risk factor for future depression in women.

Concepts: Health, Epidemiology, Nutrition, Saturated fat, Trans fat, Unsaturated fat, Polyunsaturated fat, Whitehall Study


Effects of major dietary macronutrients on glucose-insulin homeostasis remain controversial and may vary by the clinical measures examined. We aimed to assess how saturated fat (SFA), monounsaturated fat (MUFA), polyunsaturated fat (PUFA), and carbohydrate affect key metrics of glucose-insulin homeostasis.

Concepts: Nutrition, Fatty acids, Saturated fat, Lipids, Trans fat, Unsaturated fat, Polyunsaturated fat, Diet and heart disease


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading global cause of death, accounting for 17.3 million deaths per year. Preventive treatment that reduces CVD by even a small percentage can substantially reduce, nationally and globally, the number of people who develop CVD and the costs of caring for them. This American Heart Association presidential advisory on dietary fats and CVD reviews and discusses the scientific evidence, including the most recent studies, on the effects of dietary saturated fat intake and its replacement by other types of fats and carbohydrates on CVD. In summary, randomized controlled trials that lowered intake of dietary saturated fat and replaced it with polyunsaturated vegetable oil reduced CVD by ≈30%, similar to the reduction achieved by statin treatment. Prospective observational studies in many populations showed that lower intake of saturated fat coupled with higher intake of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat is associated with lower rates of CVD and of other major causes of death and all-cause mortality. In contrast, replacement of saturated fat with mostly refined carbohydrates and sugars is not associated with lower rates of CVD and did not reduce CVD in clinical trials. Replacement of saturated with unsaturated fats lowers low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, a cause of atherosclerosis, linking biological evidence with incidence of CVD in populations and in clinical trials. Taking into consideration the totality of the scientific evidence, satisfying rigorous criteria for causality, we conclude strongly that lowering intake of saturated fat and replacing it with unsaturated fats, especially polyunsaturated fats, will lower the incidence of CVD. This recommended shift from saturated to unsaturated fats should occur simultaneously in an overall healthful dietary pattern such as DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) or the Mediterranean diet as emphasized by the 2013 American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology lifestyle guidelines and the 2015 to 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Concepts: Nutrition, Atherosclerosis, Fat, Saturated fat, Lipids, Trans fat, Unsaturated fat, Polyunsaturated fat


Saturated fat (SFA), ω-6 (n-6) polyunsaturated fat (PUFA), and trans fat (TFA) influence risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), but attributable CHD mortalities by country, age, sex, and time are unclear.

Concepts: Nutrition, Fatty acids, Essential fatty acid, Saturated fat, Lipids, Trans fat, Unsaturated fat, Polyunsaturated fat


A cornerstone of conventional dietary advice is the recommendation to replace saturated fatty acids (SFA) with mostly n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Many clinical trials aimed to test this advice and have had their results pooled in several meta-analyses. However, earlier meta-analyses did not sufficiently account for major confounding variables that were present in some of those trials. Therefore, the aim of the study was to account for the major confounding variables in the diet heart trials, and emphasise the results from those trials that most accurately test the effect of replacing SFA with mostly n-6 PUFA.

Concepts: Nutrition, Fatty acids, Essential fatty acid, Fat, Saturated fat, Trans fat, Unsaturated fat, Polyunsaturated fat


Excess ectopic fat storage is linked to type 2 diabetes. The importance of dietary fat composition for ectopic fat storage in humans is unknown. We investigated liver fat accumulation and body composition during overfeeding saturated (SFA) or polyunsaturated (PUFA) fat. LIPOGAIN was a double-blind, parallel-group, randomized trial. Thirty-nine young and normal-weight individuals were overfed muffins high in SFA (palm oil) or n-6 PUFA (sunflower oil) for 7 weeks. Liver fat, visceral (VAT), subcutaneous abdominal (SAT), and total adipose tissue (TAT), pancreatic fat, and lean tissue was assessed by MRI. Transcriptomics were performed in SAT. Both groups gained similar weight. SFA however markedly increased liver fat compared with PUFA and caused 2-fold larger increase in VAT than PUFA. Conversely, PUFA caused a nearly 3-fold larger increase in lean tissue than SFA. Increase in liver fat directly correlated with changes in plasma SFA and inversely with PUFA. Genes involved in regulating energy dissipation, insulin resistance, body composition and fat cell differentiation in SAT were differentially regulated between diets, and associated with increased PUFA in SAT. In conclusion, overeating SFA promotes hepatic and visceral fat storage whereas excess energy from PUFA may instead promote lean tissue in healthy humans.

Concepts: Nutrition, Insulin, Obesity, Fat, Insulin resistance, Adipose tissue, Saturated fat, Polyunsaturated fat


Over the last 7 years there has been intense debate about the advice to reduce saturated fat and increase polyunsaturated fat to reduce CVD risk. The aim of this review was to examine systematic reviews and meta-analyses since 2010 on this topic plus additional cohort studies and interventions not included in these reviews.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Nutrition, Systematic review, Meta-analysis, Saturated fat, Trans fat, Unsaturated fat, Polyunsaturated fat


Consumers are often confused about nutrition research findings and recommendations. As content experts, it is essential that nutrition scientists communicate effectively. A case-study of the history of dietary fat science and recommendations is presented, summarizing presentations from an Experimental Biology Symposium that addressed techniques for effective scientific communication and used the scientific discourse of public understanding of dietary fats and health as an example of challenges in scientific communication. Decades of dietary recommendations have focused on balancing calorie intake and energy expenditure and decreasing fat. Reducing saturated fat has been a cornerstone of dietary recommendations for cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk reduction. However, evidence from observational studies and randomized clinical trials demonstrates that replacing saturated fat with carbohydrates, specifically refined, has no benefit on CVD risk, while substituting polyunsaturated fats for either saturated fat or carbohydrate reduces risk. A significant body of research supports the unique health benefits of dietary patterns and foods that contain plant and marine sources of unsaturated fats. Yet, after decades of focus on low-fat diets, many consumers, food manufacturers, and restauranteurs remain confused about the role of dietary fats on disease risk and sources of healthy fats. Shifting dietary recommendations to focus on food-based dietary patterns would facilitate translation to the public and potentially remedy widespread misperceptions about what constitutes a healthful dietary pattern.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Nutrition, Fatty acid, Fat, Saturated fat, Trans fat, Unsaturated fat, Polyunsaturated fat


Short-term exposure to high-energy diets impairs memory but there is little data on the relative contributions of fat and sugar to these deficits or the mechanisms responsible. Here, we investigated how these different macronutrients affect memory, neuroinflammation and neuroplasticity markers and the gut microbiota. Rats were fed matched purified diets for 2weeks; Control, Sugar, Saturated Fatty Acid (SFA) or Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid (PUFA), which varied only in the percentage of energy available from sugar and the amount and type of fat. Rats consuming SFA and Sugar were impaired on hippocampal-dependent place recognition memory compared to Controls and PUFA rats, despite all rats consuming similar amounts of energy. All rats performed comparably on the object recognition task. Hippocampal and hypothalamic inflammatory markers were not substantially affected by the diets and there was no change in the neuroplasticity marker, brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Each of the diets significantly altered the microbial composition in distinct ways. Specifically, the relative abundance of 89 taxa differed significantly between groups with the majority of these changes accounted for by the Clostridiales order and within that, Lachnospiraceae and Ruminococcaceae. These taxa showed a range of macronutrient specific correlations with place memory. In addition, Distance based Linear Models found relationships between memory, inflammation-related hippocampal genes and the gut microbiota. In conclusion, our study shows that the macronutrient profile of the diet is crucial for diet-induced memory deficits and suggests a possible link between diet, the gut microbiota and hippocampal inflammatory genes.

Concepts: Nutrition, Fatty acid, Fatty acids, Essential fatty acid, Fat, Saturated fat, Unsaturated fat, Polyunsaturated fat


Recent evidence pointed out that the prevalence of depression has reached epidemic proportions in last decades. This increase has been linked to many environmental factors, among these the influence of dietary factors has gained great attention. In particular, it has been reported that low n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (n-3 PUFA) intake in diet is correlated to the development of depressive and anxiety-like symptoms. Furthermore, maternal malnutrition is a widely accepted risk factor for developing mental illness in later adulthood; among others, depression has been strongly associated to this event. On the other hand, we have previously found that acute intracerebral injection of the soluble beta amyloid 1-42 (Aβ1-42) peptide induces a depressive-like behavior in rats, associated to altered hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activation and reduced cortical serotonin and neurotrophin levels. The aim of the present work was to study the effect of pre- and post-natal (5 weeks post-weaning) exposure to diets differently enriched in n-3, n-6, as well as n-6/n-3 PUFA balanced, on immobility time displayed on the forced swimming test (FST), along with neuroendocrine quantification in offspring rats. Results showed that n-6 PUFA-enriched diet increased depressive- and anxiety-like behaviors, as shown by the elevation in the immobility time in the FST test and self-grooming in the open field test. Those effects were accompanied by reduced cortical serotonin, high plasmatic corticosterone and hypothalamic corticotropin-releasing factor levels. Finally, enhanced plasmatic Aβ1-42 levels after n-6 PUFA diet and reduced plasmatic Aβ1-42 levels after n-3 PUFA were found. Taken together, our data indicate that Aβ1-42 might be crucially involved in behavioral alterations found after n-6 rich PUFA diet and strongly endorse the protective role of n-3 and the detrimental effect of improper n-6 PUFA diet consumption.

Concepts: Psychology, Nutrition, Fatty acid, Obesity, Essential fatty acid, Eicosapentaenoic acid, Polyunsaturated fatty acid, Polyunsaturated fat