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Substitution of dietary monounsaturated fatty acids for saturated fatty acids in a free-living population: a feasibility study

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The fatty acid composition of the diet of seven free-living subjects (five men and two women) aged 41–56 years was altered for 1 month. The aim was to increase the intake of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) from subjects current habitual levels of 12% dietary energy to a target intake of 18% dietary energy, and to decrease saturated fatty acid (SFA) from habitual levels of 16% dietary energy to target levels of 10% dietary energy. The change in fatty acid intake was achieved by supplying volunteers with foods prepared using MUFA-containing spreads or olive oil (ready meals, sweet biscuits and cakes) and also by supplying spreads, cooking oil and MUFA-enriched milk for domestic use. Body weight and plasma total cholesterol measurements were made at baseline and at 2 and 4 weeks on the diet as an aid to maintaining subject compliance. MUFA consumption was significantly increased from 12% dietary energy to 16% dietary energy (P<0.01), and SFA intake was reduced from 16% dietary energy to 6% dietary energy (P<0.01) during the 4-week intervention. The diet failed to achieve the target increase in MUFA but exceeded the target reduction in SFA. This was due to the fact that subjects reduced their total fat intake from a mean habitual level of 38% dietary energy to a mean level of 30% dietary energy. During the dietary period, mean plasma cholesterol levels were lower at 2 weeks (P<0.01) and at 4 weeks (P<0.01) than the baseline, with a mean reduction of 20% over the dietary period. This study demonstrates the difficulty of achieving increased MUFA intakes (by SFA substitution) in free-living populations when only a limited range of fatty-acid modified food products are provided to volunteers.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: School of Biological Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, UK 2: Department of Clinical Medicine, Trinity College, Dublin, Eire 3: Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition, University of Reading, Reading, UK

Publication date: August 1, 1996


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