The relationship between saturated fatty acids and cholesterol

Medical importance of saturated fatty acids and cholesterol

In the development of diseases of the heart and blood vessels, otherwise known as cardiovascularproblems, two substances take the center stage. These are: (1) saturated fatty acids, and (2) cholesterol. Their relationship on how they could possiblywreak havoc toyourcardiovascular system will be examined in this article.

Unhealthy alliance between the saturated fatty acids and cholesterol

Biochemically, saturated fatty acids promote the formation of the so-called very lowdensity lipoproteins (VLDLs) which containrelatively more cholesterol, and they are used by the body at slower rate than the bigger lipoproteins [1]. Since theVLDLsare not immediately used by the body, the cholesterol molecules that they are carrying willbe depositedin the peripheral tissues instead, leading eventually to diseases in the heart and blood vessels.

The strongest link between saturated fatty acid and cholesterol has been established by some epidemiological studies wherein it was found out that high intake of saturated fatty acids led to increased level of the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol[2]which is considered as “bad” because it brings and deposits cholesterol in the peripheral tissues, such as the muscles and blood vessels—among other organs.

To avoid the unhealthy effects of saturated fatty acids, therefore, it is recommended that they should be substituted with unsaturated fatty acids in the diet[1]. In Powertec (63), concreteexamples of the different sources of each type of fatty acid were written; all you have to do is to take more of the foods containingunsaturated fatty acids and less of the saturated ones.

It has to be emphasized, however, that total and absolute removal of saturated fatty acids from the diet is not recommended because if that is resorted to, you may experience some forms of chronic diseases which could be due to lack of intake of saturated fatty acids. There are different kinds of saturated fatty acids, and until now there are still questions on how each one contributes to the maintenance of your health. It is unwise, therefore, that you completely remove them from your diet[2].

 

Recommended apportionment of your food groups

To meet your daily energy and nutritional requirements—and thus reducing your risk of developing chronic deficiency disorders—the National Academies Institute of Medicine recommends the following breakdown of apportioning the different food groups as sources of your energy: 45-65% of your calories must come from carbohydrates, 20-35% from fat, and 10-35% from protein[2].

To give you hint on how you could implement the aforestated recommendation, it is necessary and highly recommended that you undergo blood chemistry examination, complete blood count, and urinalysis. You may consult your medical doctor, and request him to prepare laboratory order for you. Submit this order to any certified medical laboratory so that the tests will be performed. Upon receiving the results, you go back to your medical doctor for his prescriptions and/or advise.

Nutritionally, however, if the level(s) of your cholesterol and/or triglycerides is/are high, then limit your fat intake to 20%, instead of the maximum recommended value of 35%. In addition, as much as possible, that 20% of fat should consist mainly of the unsaturated fats—which could be in the form of monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats {Consult Powertec (63)}.

If the level(s) of your cholesterol and/or triglycerides are normal, your blood pressure is normal, and your liver enzymes (SGPT and SGOT) are normal, you can afford to take dietary fat at a maximum level of 35%.To help you prepare your diet, you can consult a certified nutritionist-dietitian. He/she can help you select the proper kind and quantity of foods that you need to take to meet the 20% or 35% of fat in your diet.

 

References:

  1. Murray, Robert K., Daryl K. Granner, Peter A. Mayes, and Victor W. Rodwell. Harper’s Biochemistry. Appleton and Lange: Stamford, Connecticut, 2000.
  2. Bruce J, Dillard, CJ. Saturated fats: what dietary intake? The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. September 2004;80(3):550-559. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/80/3/550.full#sec-17.
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