Changes in markers for cardio-metabolic disease risk after only 1-2 weeks of a high saturated fat diet in overweight adults

Jeffrey F. Horowitz, Juan F. Ortega, Alexander Hinko, Minghua Li, Rachael K. Nelson, Ricardo Mora-Rodriguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose Diets high in saturated fat acids (SFA) have been linked with cardio-metabolic disease risk. The purpose of this study was to determine whether only 1–2 weeks of a high SFA diet could impact disease risk factors in overweight adults who normally eat a relatively low proportion of SFA (i.e., <40% of dietary fat). Methods Twelve overweight (BMI: 27±1 kg/m2) young adults were studied before and after a 2-week diet that increased the proportion of SFA (<40% to 60% of dietary fat), while maintaining their daily intake of total fat, carbohydrate, protein, and calories. Insulin resistance, blood pressure, plasma markers of liver damage, total plasma cholesterol concentrations, and fatty acid profile within plasma and skeletal muscle lipid pools were assessed before and after the intervention. Results Total plasma cholesterol concentration increased (148±5 vs. 164±8 mg/dl; P<0.05) after only one week, due exclusively to an increase in LDL-cholesterol (78±4 vs. 95±7 mg/dl; P<0.05). After two weeks, plasma aspartate amino transferase (AST) concentration increased (P<0.05) but we found no change in insulin resistance, or resting blood pressure. The diet increase the proportion of SFA in plasma (35±1% vs. 39±2%; P<0.05) and the intramyocellular triglyceride pool (32±1% vs. 37±1%; P<0.05) suggesting the fatty acids in these pools may readily exchange. Conclusions Although blood lipids remain within normal clinical range, increasing saturated fat in diet for only 2 weeks raises plasma markers of cardiovascular risk (LDL-cholesterol) and liver damage (AST). In overweight, but healthy-young adults SFA accumulate in plasma and muscle after only 1–2 weeks of dietary increase.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0198372
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2018


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