Skip to main content

22-04-2012 | Cardiometabolic | Article

Linolenic acid protective, saturated fatty acid detrimental in PAD


Free abstract

MedWire News: Diets high in linolenic acid (LNA) may protect against the development of peripheral arterial disease (PAD), while diets high in saturated fatty acids (SFA) have a detrimental effect, say researchers.

The findings, published in Atherosclerosis, come from an analysis of 6352 adults aged 40 years or older who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 1999 and 2004.

The aim of the study was to investigate the association between fatty acid intake and PAD.

Ankle brachial blood pressure index (ABI), the ratio of the blood pressure in the lower legs to the blood pressure in the arms, was assessed by standardized blood pressure measurements. PAD was defined as an ABI below 0.9.

Fatty acid intake in grams per day was assessed by a 24-hour dietary recall.

The team, led by Asghar Naqvi (Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA), found that the overall prevalence of PAD was 5.2%.

Higher dietary intake of LNA was significantly associated with higher ABI, while higher SFA intake was nonsignificantly associated with lower ABI.

In addition, higher SFA intake was significantly and positively associated with PAD, write Naqvi et al. Indeed, each standard deviation increase in SFA was associated with a 30% increase in the likelihood for developing PAD.

This association was further strengthened after adjustment for cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors, which, the researchers suggest, "may have occurred because individuals diagnosed with CVD, who are more likely to have PAD, may have altered their diets to reduce intake of SFA after their diagnosis."

The team notes that the specific SFAs responsible for the positive association with PAD were the longest carbon chain SFAs, palmatic (16-carbon) and stearic acids (18-carbon).

Other fatty acids were not associated with ABI or prevalence of PAD.

"Prospective cohort studies are needed to confirm the potential protective effects of dietary LNA and detrimental effects of SFA on PAD," conclude the researchers.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Nikki Withers