Why is a diet high in saturated fats harmful?

A diet that is high in saturated fat increases plasma cholesterol levels (LDL levels) and Atherosclerosis. It was not known how dietary fats directly affect uptake of LDL cholesterol  ester in the arteries and whether selective uptake was a factor. Selective uptake is a process whereby LDL cholesterol esters can be delivered to cell independent of the full LDL molecule.

In a study appearing online on July 21 in advance of print publication of the August 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Toru Seo and colleagues from Columbia University use mice that are resistant to atherosclerosis and those that are not to trace full LDL and LDL cholesterol ester uptake after being fed a high fat diet or a standard diet.

The authors show that selective uptake contributes to LDL cholesterol ester delivery in both groups of mice, especially when they are fed the high fat diet. Selective uptake was also associated with increased plasma cholesterol and atherosclerosis.

These results suggest that diet can influence delivery of LDL cholesterol ester to arteries via selective uptake, affecting cholesterol depostion and atherogenesis.

Title: Saturated fat diet enhances selective uptake of LDL cholesteryl esters in the arterial wall

Toru Seo
Columbia University, New York, NY USA

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Revision date: June 11, 2011
Last revised: by Dave R. Roger, M.D.