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Oil or fat?

Public Release: 27-Apr-2015

Saturated fatty acids might directly damage heart

Olive oil is universally considered a much healthier alternative to meat fat. Plant-derived oils (such as olive oil, canola oil, and vegetable oil) largely consist of unsaturated fatty acids, whereas animal fat is richer in the saturated ones. After a typical meal, carbohydrates are the primary source of energy production by the heart. Under fasting conditions, however, free fatty acids become the major energy producer. Saturated fat in a diet is known to be detrimental to heart health, but its impact on the cardiac muscle has been studied only recently.

Interestingly, while saturated fatty acids are toxic to cells, unsaturated fatty acids are not only harmless but also provide protection against the damage done by saturated fatty acids. Studies conducted on many cell lines have indicated that saturated fatty acids can cause cell death involving the “endoplasmic reticulum stress (ER stress)”, a cellular process known to be involved in the development of many diseases. A new paper, “Saturated fatty acids induce endoplasmic reticulum stress in primary cardiomyocytes“, just published in open access in “Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress in Diseases” by De Gruyter Open shows that there are striking differences in the accumulation of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids in cardiac muscle cells, and that saturated fatty acids induce the death of these cells through the ER stress. In stalking contrast, unsaturated fatty acids protect the same cells from such damage.

A research group from the Montreal Heart Institute in Canada, led by Dr. Nicolas Bousette, evaluated the impact of palmitate and oleate on cellular fatty acid absorption, triglyceride synthesis, intracellular lipid distribution, ER stress, and cell death in primary cardiomyocytes. This is the first time that such phenomena were observed in cells directly derived from the heart, validating a critical role for saturated fatty acids in the development of heart diseases. Given a primary role for lipid metabolism in the development of type II diabetes, the current finding might suggest a probable role for saturated fatty acids in the development of heart conditions among diabetic patients. The current results and future research in this direction might improve our understanding on the possible connection between intracardiomyocyte lipid accumulation and the development of diabetic cardiomyopathy.


The article is available fully in open access to read, download and share on De Gruyter Online

One thought on “Oil or fat?

  1. Reblogged this on Oil-Change Diet and commented:
    This is the first article I have seen that shows how excess saturated fats can cause damage in our bodies. I will have to modify my diet to include a little more oleic acid. This is where the benefits from avocados, nuts, and olive oil come from. As for palmitate, it can come from meats, but our bodies will make it from carbohydrates if we eat more carbs than we burn. If we are overweight. we will very likely have excess palmitic acid in our cells. This article shows that consuming oleic acid can protect the cells from the damage caused by palmitic acid. I still think it is important to maintain a balance between omega-6 and omega-3 fats in our bodies as well. If all unsaturated fats work, then it would probably be best to consume linolenic acid if you 6/3 ratio is already too high.

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