Skip to main content

Work Under Way

Question

What is the relationship between types of dietary fat consumed and risk of cardiovascular disease?

Approach to Answering the Question
NESR Systematic Review

Subcommittee
Dietary Fats and Seafood Subcommittee

Systematic Review Protocol
Developed for each scientific question being examined, the protocol describes the plan for how the systematic review was conducted. The protocol provides the: 

  • Analytic framework, 
  • Literature search and screening plan, and 
  • Literature search and screening results. 

See the full protocol for the question, what is the relationship between types of dietary fat consumed and risk of cardiovascular disease? 

View Full Protocol

Draft Conclusion Statement

The draft conclusion statements listed below describe the state of the science related to the specific question examined. Draft conclusions are not considered final until they have been deliberated with and decided upon by the full Committee and published in the Committee’s final advisory report. Individual conclusion statements should not be interpreted as dietary guidance or the Committee’s overarching advice to the Departments.

Cardiovascular disease intermediate outcomes: Children

Strong evidence demonstrates that diets lower in saturated fatty acids and cholesterol during childhood result in lower levels of total blood and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol throughout childhood, particularly in boys. Grade: Strong

Moderate evidence indicates that diets higher in polyunsaturated fatty acids during childhood result in lower levels of total blood cholesterol throughout childhood, particularly in boys. Grade: Moderate

Insufficient evidence is available to determine the relationship between monounsaturated fatty acid intake during childhood and total blood and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol throughout childhood. Grade: Grade Not Assignable

Insufficient evidence is available to determine the relationship between intake of types of dietary fat during childhood and blood pressure throughout childhood. Grade: Grade Not Assignable

Cardiovascular disease endpoint health outcomes: Children 

Insufficient evidence is available to determine the relationship between intake of types of dietary fat during childhood and cardiovascular health outcomes during adulthood. Grade: Grade Not Assignable

Cardiovascular disease intermediate outcomes: Adults

Strong and consistent evidence from randomized controlled trials shows that replacing saturated fatty acids with unsaturated fats, especially polyunsaturated fatty acids, significantly reduces total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Replacing saturated fatty acids with carbohydrates (sources not defined) also reduces total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, but significantly increases triglycerides and reduces high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. New evidence remains inadequate to differentiate among sources of carbohydrate and their impact on blood lipids. Grade: Strong

Limited evidence suggests that lower intake of dietary cholesterol in adults may reduce total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Grade: Limited

Cardiovascular disease endpoint health outcomes: Adults

Strong evidence demonstrates that replacing saturated fatty acids with polyunsaturated fatty acids in adults reduces the risk of coronary heart disease events and cardiovascular disease mortality. Grade: Strong

Insufficient conclusive evidence is available to determine whether replacing saturated fatty acids with polyunsaturated fatty acids in adults affects the risk of stroke or heart failure. Grade: Grade Not Assignable

Insufficient evidence is available to determine if replacing saturated fatty acids with different types of carbohydrates (e.g., complex, simple) in adults affects the risk of cardiovascular disease. Grade: Grade Not Assignable

Limited evidence is available regarding whether replacing saturated fatty acids with monounsaturated fatty acids confers overall cardiovascular disease or cardiovascular disease endpoint health benefits. Main sources of monounsaturated fatty acids in a typical American diet are animal fats, with co-occurrence of saturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids in these foods, thereby obscuring the independent association of monounsaturated fatty acids with cardiovascular disease. Evidence reviewed from randomized controlled trials and prospective studies demonstrated benefits of plant sources of monounsaturated fats, including olive oil and nuts on cardiovascular disease risk. Grade: Limited

Moderate evidence indicates that total intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid from food sources, by adults is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Grade: Moderate

Limited evidence suggests that intake of linoleic acid, but not arachidonic acid, during adulthood may be associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease, including cardiovascular disease mortality. Grade: Limited

Insufficient evidence is available from randomized controlled trials to quantify an independent relationship between dietary cholesterol intake in adults and overall risk of cardiovascular disease. Grade: Grade Not Assignable