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Protein or monounsaturated fats are good replacements for saturated fat.

We've all heard that it's important to reduce the amount of saturated fat in our diets. What's less certain is which nutrient should replace saturated fat. Should we be eating more protein, more carbohydrate, or more unsaturated fat? A recent study tried replacing saturated fat with either protein (2/3 plant protein and 1/3 animal protein), carbohydrate, or monounsaturated fat (canola and olive oil, nuts and seeds) and then determining the effect of this on blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Study participants were 164 adults with mildly elevated blood pressure. They were on each diet for six weeks. All diets were low in cholesterol and sodium and high in fruits and vegetables.

Blood pressure and total, LDL, and HDL cholesterol decreased on all three diets. Compared with the higher carbohydrate diet, the higher protein diet further decreased blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides and lowered HDL (good) cholesterol. The higher unsaturated fat diet also further decreased blood pressure and triglycerides but did not decrease LDL cholesterol. HDL cholesterol was higher on the high unsaturated fat diet. All three diets lowered the risk of heart disease, with higher protein and higher unsaturated fat diets having a greater effect than higher carbohydrates. This study suggests that, for those with high blood pressure, a somewhat higher protein intake (with at least half from plant sources) or a somewhat higher intake of unsaturated fat, along with low sodium intake and generous amounts of fruits and vegetables, can help to reduce blood pressure and may lead to lower cholesterol levels and a reduced risk of heart disease.

Appel LJ, Sacks FM, Carey VJ, et al. 2005. Effects of protein, monounsaturated fat, and carbohydrate intake on blood pressure and serum lipids. JAMA 294:2455-64.
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Title Annotation:Scientific Update: A Review of Recent Scientific Papers Related to Vegetarianism
Author:Mangels, Reed
Publication:Vegetarian Journal
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2006
Words:290
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