Effects of Reducing Dietary Saturated Fatty Acids on Plasma Lipids and Lipoproteins in Healthy Subjects
The Delta Study, Protocol 1
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Abstract—Few well-controlled diet studies have investigated the effects of reducing dietary saturated fatty acid (SFA) intake in premenopausal and postmenopausal women or in blacks. We conducted a multicenter, randomized, crossover-design trial of the effects of reducing dietary SFA on plasma lipids and lipoproteins in 103 healthy adults 22 to 67 years old. There were 46 men and 57 women, of whom 26 were black, 18 were postmenopausal women, and 16 were men ≥40 years old. All meals and snacks, except Saturday dinner, were prepared and served by the research centers. The study was designed to compare three diets: an average American diet (AAD), a Step 1 diet, and a low-SFA (Low-Sat) diet. Dietary cholesterol was constant. Diet composition was validated and monitored by a central laboratory. Each diet was consumed for 8 weeks, and blood samples were obtained during weeks 5 through 8. The compositions of the three diets were as follows: AAD, 34.3% kcal fat and 15.0% kcal SFA; Step 1, 28.6% kcal fat and 9.0% kcal SFA; and Low-Sat, 25.3% kcal fat and 6.1% kcal SFA. Each diet provided ≈275 mg cholesterol/d. Compared with AAD, plasma total cholesterol in the whole group fell 5% on Step 1 and 9% on Low-Sat. LDL cholesterol was 7% lower on Step 1 and 11% lower on Low-Sat than on the AAD (both P<.01). Similar responses were seen in each subgroup. HDL cholesterol fell 7% on Step 1 and 11% on Low-Sat (both P<.01). Reductions in HDL cholesterol were seen in all subgroups except blacks and older men. Plasma triglyceride levels increased ≈9% between AAD and Step 1 but did not increase further from Step 1 to Low-Sat. Changes in triglyceride levels were not significant in most subgroups. Surprisingly, plasma Lp(a) concentrations increased in a stepwise fashion as SFA was reduced. In a well-controlled feeding study, stepwise reductions in SFA resulted in parallel reductions in plasma total and LDL cholesterol levels. Diet effects were remarkably similar in several subgroups of men and women and in blacks. The reductions in total and LDL cholesterol achieved in these different subgroups indicate that diet can have a significant impact on risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease in the total population.
↵1 Participants in the DELTA Research Group are listed in the “Appendix”.
- Received March 20, 1997.
- Accepted November 18, 1997.