Current Research in Medicine

Dietary Fats and Heart Disease: From Prenatal to Postnatal Environment

Sukhinder K. Cheema

DOI : 10.3844/amjsp.2012.175.182

Current Research in Medicine

Volume 3, Issue 2

Pages 175-182


Problem statement: Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide and is dramatically increasing in developing countries. Preventive approaches, such as dietary and lifestyle changes can have major health implications to prevent the onset of heart disease. Besides healthy nutrition in the adult life, maternal nutrition during pregnancy and lactation can also have a significant impact on the outcome of heart disease in the later life of the offspring. Approach: Higher levels of plasma total cholesterol, especially Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and lower levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. We have used various animal models and dietary strategies to investigate the regulation of lipid and lipoprotein metabolism. We also manipulated maternal diets during pregnancy and lactation to study the outcome of heart disease in the offspring in later life. Results: Reducing the intake of saturated and trans fatty acids reduce the risk of heart disease, while polyunsaturated fatty acids elicit beneficial health effects. Amongst polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 class of fatty acids, are associated with lower incidence of heart disease however, an increased consumption of omega-6 fatty acids may increase the risk of heart disease. Higher intake of saturated fat during pregnancy and lactation inhibits the gene expression of LDL receptor which leads to an increase in plasma LDL-cholesterol levels of the offspring thereby putting the offspring at a higher risk of heart disease. Conclusion/Recommendations: An optimum ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is critical to reduce the risk of heart disease. Developing countries need to pay a special attention to dietary guidelines to reduce the burden of heart disease.


© 2012 Sukhinder K. Cheema. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.