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Polyunsaturated Fats Mitigate Damage Tied to Weight Gain

Polyunsaturated fat intake linked to better cholesterol readings, researchers find

THURSDAY, Oct. 16, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- When gaining weight, polyunsaturated fats appear to be less detrimental to cardiovascular health than saturated fats, according to research published online Oct. 15 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

In an effort to evaluate the effects of different cooking fats, Ulf Risérus, M.D., of Uppsala University in Sweden, and colleagues asked 39 healthy young adults in Sweden to add four muffins a day to their diet. The researchers aimed for participants, whose average age was 27, to gain about 3 percent of their body weight. Muffins were added or subtracted to keep weight gain within that range, while the volunteers continued their normal diet and physical activity.

The researchers found that over seven weeks, people in both groups gained about 2.2 percent of their body weight. However, those whose muffins contained unsaturated fat had lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. They also had higher levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol than those whose muffins were made with saturated fat. LDL levels between the groups differed by 9 percent. In terms of overall cholesterol/HDL cholesterol ratio, the difference was as much as 18 percent.

"Even modest weight gain of less than 4 pounds may have adverse effects, but having sufficient amounts of polyunsaturated fats and less saturated fat may prevent some of the unwanted consequences with weight gain," Risérus told HealthDay.

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