Two cholesterol-raising fatty acids in the diet, saturated fatty acids and trans fatty acids, increase the serum low-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentration. This fact justifies the recommendation of a reduced intake of cholesterol-raising fatty acids. Emerging data suggest that diets higher in unsaturated fatty acids, particularly monounsaturated fatty acids, have several advantages over high-carbohydrate intakes. This advantage appears to hold, particularly for populations having a high prevalence of insulin resistance, such as the US population. If the US public were to modify its eating habits in the direction of better weight control and more exercise, higher intakes of carbohydrate might be better tolerated. At the same time, the experience with the Mediterranean population reveals that in healthier populations, diets relatively high in unsaturated fatty acids are well tolerated and are associated with a low prevalence of both coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
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