Regulation of plasma lipoprotein levels by dietary triglycerides enriched with different fatty acids

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Saturated vegetable oils (coconut, palm, and palm kernel oil) containing predominantly saturated fatty acids, lauric (12:0) or myristic (14:0 and palmitic (16:0), raise plasma total cholesterol (TC) and low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels in animals and humans, presumably by decreasing LDL receptor activity and/or increasing LDL-C production rate. Although stearic acid (18:0) is chemically a saturated fatty acid, both human and animal studies suggest it is biologically neutral (neither raising nor lowering) blood cholesterol levels. Although earlier studies indicated that medium chain fatty acids (8:0-10:0) were also thought to be neutral, more recent studies in animals and humans suggest otherwise.Unsaturated vegetable oils such as corn, soybean, olive, and canola oil, by virtue of their predominant levels of either linoleic acid (18:2) or oleic acid (18:1), are hypocholesterolemic, probably as a result of their ability to upregulate LDL receptor activity and/or decrease LDL-C production rate.Whether trans fatty acids such as trans oleate (t18:1), in hydrogenated products such as margarine, are hypercholesterolemic remains controversial. Studies in humans suggest that their cholesterol-raising potential falls between the native nonhydrogenated vegetable oil and the more saturated dairy products such as butter. Assessment of the magnitude of the cholesterolemic response of trans 18:1 is difficult because in most diet studies its addition is often at the expense of cholesterol-lowering unsaturated fatty acids, making an independent evaluation almost impossible.

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