Six dietary modification to reduce the risk of CHD by Carey Haupt RD(SA)

Posted: 31-08-2014

Dietary modification to reduce the risk of CHD:

Here are 6 dietary modifications that can help to reduce the risk of CHD. The dietary modifications are listed form the most important to the least important:

The diet to prevent CHD focuses mainly on the type and amount of dietary fat that is consumed. The type of fat consumed can change your lipid profile and thus it is important to understand the different types of fat and their sources.

1. The most important type of fat is saturated fat. It has been found that if the energy consumed by saturated fat is more than 15% of total energy there is an increases risk of CHD and elevated serum cholesterol and LDL. There are different types of saturated fat, the bad saturated fats that have a negative effect on your serum cholesterol are: Lauric, myristic and palmatic. An example of a neutral saturated fatty acid (SFA) is steric acid as it have no effect on your lipid profile.

Saturated fatty acid


Palmitic (easiest SFA to reduce)

Animal foods


Butter fat, coconut oil


Palm kernel and coconut oils

2. Omega 6 Polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) (linoleic acid) can be used to substitute carbohydrates which can result in a decrease in serum LDL and an increase in HDL. It also helps to reduce VLDL.  However a reduction in SFA is 2 x more effective than increasing your PUFA intake. The recommendation is not to increase the amount of PUFA but to rather include it in the diet instead of SFA or carbohydrates.

3. Omega 3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) have a dose dependant relationship with triglycerides. It is postulated that a diet high in fish and fish oils (thus rich in EPA and DHA) will lower serum cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides. In dietary terms one fatty fish meal a week (resulting in 5.5g Omega 3 FA per month) can result is a 50% reduction in the risk of cardiac arrest! Dietary supplementation of 1g Omega 3 daily can also reduce the relative risk of CVD death, nonfatal MI and stroke patients that have already had a MI.

Food examples of Omega 3 rich fish:

Food sources 100g edible raw portion

Total fat (g)

Omega-3 fat (g)

Sardines, in oil



Mackerel, Atlantic



Salmon, Atlantic



Salmon, pink












4.Replacing SFA with Monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA), lowers the serum cholesterol levels, LDL and triglyceride levels in a similar way as with substitution with PUFA. The effect of MUFA on serum HDL is dependent on the total fat intake. With a high fat diet there is very little to no effect but on a low fat diet there is an increase of HDL when MUFA has a higher percentage of total fat intake.

5.Trans fatty acids are naturally occurring cis-linoleic acid and can be produced in the hydrogenation of oils. Increased intake of trans fatty acids have been shown to increase cholesterol, LDL and can lower HDL. Trans fatty acids increase these levels but not to the same degree as SFA.

Sources of trans fatty acids:

Natural occurring Trans fatty acids  food sources

Hydrogenated trans fatty acids food sources

50 % of intake form diet

50% of intake form diet

Animal foods (beef, butter and milk fats)

Stick margarine, shortening, commercially fried foods and high fat baked goods

It is recommended that adults eat 6-10g of soluble fibre per day. The soluble fibre helps to reduce the serum cholesterol levels. This recommendation fits in with 5 fruit and vegetable per day.

6. Plant sterol are sometimes added to margarines (such as Flora Pro-active) and at the correct dose they can help to reduce serum cholesterol.



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