Questions about fats, cholesterol, oxidation, and heart disease

In summary: You are correct, the article does not mention oxidation of fats as a cause of heart disease. The article discusses PUFAs and their benefits.
  • #1
physicsnnewbie
49
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Just have a few questions about the cause of heart disease and oxidation of fats. I am looking for some studies that relate to the questions if possible.

1. Does saturated fat cause atherosclerosis or is it the oxidized cholesterol that usually accompanies it (as in most cooked animal products), or a combination? I'm assuming 'oxidized' saturated fats are less problematic due to their resilience to oxidation, but this is dependent on the following question:
2. What temperatures are needed to cause oxidation of cholesterol and saturated fat at a non-negligable rate in various foods?
3. Are other oxidized fats such as monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids as bad or worse than saturated fats or oxidized cholesterol?

What I am getting at with the first two questions is whether foods high in saturated fat are always bad, or if it is just when they are cooked at high temperatures as they usually are nowdays, which usually causes cholesterol and possibly satfat oxidation?
 
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  • #2
physicsnnewbie said:
What I am getting at with the first two questions is whether foods high in saturated fat are always bad, or if it is just when they are cooked at high temperatures as they usually are nowdays, which usually causes cholesterol and possibly satfat oxidation?

What cooking does is change unsaturated trans fatty acids (TFAs) to partially saturated (hydrogenated) TFAs. These have been associated with heart disease in many studies which can be found online. Unsaturated TFAs in cooking oils will degrade to partially saturated TFAs at the smoke point. Saturated fats are generally resistant to oxidation and hydrogenation at high cooking temperatures since they are already fully hydrogenated.

Recent studies have shown an association between circulating oxidized phospholipids in LDL cholesterol (oxLDL)and heart disease. The relationship of these to diet remains unknown, As a general rule, saturated fats and polyunsaturated fats should be reduced in the diet in favor of monounsaturated fats.

http://www.exrx.net/Nutrition/Fat.html

http://whatscookingamerica.net/Information/CookingOilTypes.htm

http://www.nutrinfo.com/pagina/info/grasas_trans_uauy_tavella_nutrition.pdf

There's a vast literature on the net on diet and heart disease for both the layman and professional. Some of it is conflicting and confusing. For example, some studies have shown an increase in circulating oxLDL with low fat diets. However, this might be due to decreased uptake of oxLDL by atheromatous lesions in the vascular wall. Despite the state of uncertainty in the knowledge of the pathology, population based studies have consistently shown a decrease in coronary heart disease with diets such as the Mediterranean, which is high in monounsaturated fats.

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mediterranean-diet/CL00011
 
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  • #3
Thanks, I'll have a look at the links you posted
 
  • #4
physicsnnewbie said:
Thanks, I'll have a look at the links you posted

You're welcome. I didn't link to articles re oxLDL because there doesn't seem to be any known connection between oxLDL and oxidation of foods. The latter results in the formation of free radicals which pose cancer risks such as with the excessive consumption of charred meats.

Your question was in relation to CHD, so at this point there doesn't seem to be a relation between highly oxidized (rancid at room temerature or charred) foods and CHD. Also, I didn't say much about polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) because this is a diverse group. Omega-3 FAs are good but high omega-6/omega-3 ratios are bad. Most sources say replacing saturated fats with PUFAs is good but it depends on which PUFAs. Food labels (at least in the US) do not specify specific PUFAs. The following article discusses PUFAs, but there are different opinions.

http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000252
 
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  • #5


I would like to start by clarifying that heart disease is a complex condition with multiple factors that contribute to its development. While diet and lifestyle choices play a significant role, there is no single cause of heart disease. With that being said, let's address the questions about fats, cholesterol, oxidation, and heart disease.

1. There is evidence that both saturated fat and oxidized cholesterol can contribute to the development of atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque in the arteries. Saturated fat can increase levels of LDL cholesterol, which is commonly referred to as "bad" cholesterol, while oxidized cholesterol can cause inflammation and damage to the arterial walls. It is likely that a combination of these factors, along with other lifestyle and genetic factors, contribute to the development of atherosclerosis.

2. The temperature needed to cause oxidation of cholesterol and saturated fat can vary depending on the type of food and cooking method. Generally, high temperatures above 375°F (190°C) can lead to oxidation of cholesterol and fats. However, the exact temperature and time needed for oxidation to occur can also depend on the presence of other factors such as antioxidants and the type of fat being cooked.

3. While saturated fat and oxidized cholesterol have been linked to heart disease, the role of other oxidized fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids is still being studied. Some research suggests that these fats may have protective effects against heart disease, while others suggest they may also contribute to the development of atherosclerosis. More studies are needed to fully understand the impact of these fats on heart health.

In conclusion, while foods high in saturated fat may not always be "bad," it is important to consider the cooking methods and temperatures used, as well as the overall balance of fats in the diet. A diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods and a variety of healthy fats is generally recommended for heart health. As for studies, there is a wealth of research available on this topic, and I would recommend consulting with a registered dietitian or conducting a thorough literature review to find specific studies that address your questions.
 

Related to Questions about fats, cholesterol, oxidation, and heart disease

What are fats?

Fats, or fatty acids, are essential macronutrients found in food that provide the body with energy. They are also important for cell growth, hormone production, and insulation.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in the body that is needed for the production of hormones, vitamin D, and bile. It is also found in some foods and can contribute to the development of heart disease if consumed in excess.

What is oxidation?

Oxidation is a chemical reaction that occurs when oxygen interacts with other molecules. In the body, this can lead to the production of harmful free radicals, which can damage cells and contribute to the development of heart disease.

How does cholesterol contribute to heart disease?

Cholesterol can contribute to heart disease by building up in the arteries, forming plaque that can restrict blood flow to the heart. This can lead to heart attacks or strokes.

What are some ways to reduce the risk of heart disease related to fats and cholesterol?

To reduce the risk of heart disease, it is important to limit saturated and trans fats in the diet and opt for healthier sources of fat, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and quitting smoking can also help reduce the risk of heart disease.

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