Total Saturated Fat Content of Diets

Coagulation Results of studies on the effects of low-fat diets compared with high-fat diets provide some insight into the effects of decreasing the saturated fat content of diets. However, in these studies multiple changes are introduced which makes interpretation of results difficult.

Figure 3 demonstrates that decreased factor VIIc levels were observed in subjects on low-fat diets

70 J-

Fasting Non-fasting

Figure 3 Effects of a high-saturated fat diet on fasting and postprandial factor VIIc activity From Miller (1998) American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 67(supplement): 542S-545S. Reproduced with permission by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. © Am J Clin Nutr. American Society for Clinical Nutrition.

compared with those on high-saturated fat diets. In many of these studies, the low-fat diet provided smaller quantities of both saturated and unsaturated fatty acids and more fiber than the high-saturated fat diets. The combined results, however, suggest that, apart from a possible effect of dietary fiber, saturates increase factor VII levels compared with carbohydrates. Effects on other clotting factors are less clear. Measurements of markers of in vivo coagulation (e.g., prothrombin fragment 1 + 2) might have provided more information on the effect of saturates on blood coagulation but were unfortunately not measured in most experiments.

Fibrinolysis Effects of low-fat and high-fat diets on the fibrinolytic capacity of the blood have also been studied. A similar problem, as stated before, is that multiple changes were introduced within a single experiment. Results of longer term and shorter term studies with dietary changes of total fat (decrease of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids contents) and increased fiber content indicate beneficially increased euglobulin fibrinolytic capacity of the blood. However, when the saturated fatty acid and fiber content of two diets were almost identical and only the unsaturated fatty acid content was changed, no significant differences in fibrinolytic capacity were observed.

Little is known about the relative effects on fibri-nolytic capacity of saturated fatty acids compared with unsaturated fatty acids. It has been reported, however, that diets rich in butterfat decreased PAI-1 activity compared with a diet rich in partially hydro-genated soybean oil, but whether this is because of changes in the saturated acid or the trans fatty acid content is not clear from this study.

As for coagulation factors, the findings on the fibrinolytic effects of saturates are still inconclusive and need to be examined by more specific assays, measuring the activities of the separate fibrinolytic factors such as tPA and PAI-1.

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