The effects of linseed oil (LO) and macadamia oil (MO) on the metabolic changes induced by a high-fat diet (HFD) rich in saturated fatty acid were investigated. For the purpose of this study, the vegetable oil present in the HFD, i.e. soybean oil (SO) was replaced with LO (HFD-LO) or MO (HFD-MO). For comparative purposes, a group was included, which received a normal fat diet (NFD). Male Swiss mice (6-week old) were used. After 14 days under the dietary conditions, the mice were fasted for 18 h, and experiments were then performed. The HFD-SO, HFD-LO and HFD-MO groups showed higher glycaemia (p < 0.05 versus NFD). However, no significant effect was observed on glycaemia, liver gluconeogenesis and liver ketogenesis when SO was replaced by either LO or MO. The body weight and the sum of epididymal, mesenteric, retroperitoneal and inguinal fat weights were higher (p < 0.05) in the HFD-SO and HFD-MO groups as compared with the NFD group. However, there was no significant difference in these parameters between the NFD and HFD-LO groups. Thus, the protective role of LO on lipid accumulation induced by an HFD rich in saturated fatty acid is potentially mediated by the high content of ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid in LO. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.