Development of a Food-Exchange Model to Replace Saturated Fat with MUFAs and n-6 PUFAs in Adults at Moderate Cardiovascular Risk

Michelle Weech, Katerina Vafeiadou, Marinela Hasaj, Susan Todd, Parveen Yaqoob, Kim G. Jackson, Julie A. Lovegrove

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


The recommendation to reduce saturated fatty acid (SFA) consumption to ≤10% of total energy (%TE) is a key public health target aimed at lowering cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. Replacement of SFA with unsaturated fats may provide greater benefit than replacement with carbohydrates, yet the optimal type of fat is unclear. The aim was to develop a flexible food-exchange model to investigate the effects of substituting SFAs with monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) or n-6 (ω-6) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) on CVD risk factors. In this parallel study, UK adults aged 21-60 y with moderate CVD risk (50% greater than the population mean) were identified using a risk assessment tool (n = 195; 56% females). Three 16-wk isoenergetic diets of specific fatty acid (FA) composition (%TE SFA:%TE MUFA:%TE n-6 PUFA) were designed using spreads, oils, dairy products, and snacks as follows: 1) SFA-rich diet (17:11:4; n = 65); 2) MUFA-rich diet (9:19:4; n = 64); and 3) n-6 PUFA-rich diet (9:13:10; n = 66). Each diet provided 36%TE total fat. Dietary targets were broadly met for all intervention groups, reaching 17.6 ± 0.4%TE SFA, 18.5 ± 0.3%TE MUFA, and 10.4 ± 0.3%TE n-6 PUFA in the respective diets, with significant overall diet effects for the changes in SFA, MUFA, and n-6 PUFA between groups (P < 0.001). There were no differences in the changes of total fat, protein, carbohydrate, and alcohol intake or anthropometric measures between groups. Plasma phospholipid FA composition showed changes from baseline in the proportions of total SFA, MUFA, and n-6 PUFA for each diet group, with significant overall diet effects for total SFA and MUFA between groups (P < 0.001). In conclusion, successful implementation of the food-exchange model broadly achieved the dietary target intakes for the exchange of SFA with MUFA or n-6 PUFA with minimal disruption to the overall diet in a free-living population. This trial was registered at as NCT01478958.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)846-855
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number6
Early online date9 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2014


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