A study by Swedish researchers evaluated the impact of unsaturated sunflower vs saturated palm oil and found that young people who consumed muffins with saturated oils had adverse cholesterol profiles.
Researchers conducted a seven-week study in 39 adults (average age 27) who ate three muffins a day prepared with either unsaturated sunflower or saturated palm oil.
The muffins consisted of high levels of carbohydrates and sugar, but only those made using saturated oils raised cholesterol concerns; although both groups showed increased insulin resistance, an early warning sign of adult-onset diabetes later in life.
The findings generally revealed that those people who ate the unsaturated fat muffins tended to have lower low-density lipoproteins (LDL-bad cholesterol) levels, a lower the ratio between total cholesterol and high-density lipoproteins (HDL-good cholesterol), and other positive indicators of cardiovascular health. While the average weight gain for both groups was just 2.2 percent, LDL levels differed by 9 percent and the overall cholesterol/HDL cholesterol ratio differed as much as 18 percent between the two groups.
“Even in early adulthood, it is important to avoid high-calorie foods and weight gain, but also it is important to consume sufficient amounts of polyunsaturated fats from non-hydrogenated vegetable oils,” said Ulf Risérus, M.D., Ph.D., principal investigator and associate professor of Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism at Uppsala University, in Uppsala, Sweden. “The lowering of the cholesterol/HDL cholesterol ratio by polyunsaturated fat is of special interest because recent large studies have shown this ratio seems to predict heart disease risk even better than LDL levels alone.”
“Studies using these oils in weight-stable participants have demonstrated that the adverse effects on LDL seems to disappear shortly after they stop consuming foods with saturated fats, and this may also be the case here,” he said. “Such data would be important to encourage people who gained weight to lose their weight and lower their metabolic risk,” said Ulf Risérus.
D. Iggman, F. Rosqvist, A. Larsson, J. Arnlov, L. Beckman, M. Rudling, U. Riserus. Role of Dietary Fats in Modulating Cardiometabolic Risk During Moderate Weight Gain: A Randomized Double-Blind Overfeeding Trial (LIPOGAIN Study). Journal of the American Heart Association, 2014; 3 (5): e001095 DOI: 10.1161/JAHA.114.001095