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The purpose of this review is to discuss the metabolism of long-chain saturated fatty acids and the ensuing effects on an array of metabolic events. Individual long-chain saturated fatty acids exhibit unique biological properties. Dietary saturated fat absorption varies depending on chain-length and the associated food matrix. The in-vivo metabolism of saturated fatty acids varies depending on the individual fatty acid and the nutritional state of the individual. A variety of fatty acid metabolites are formed, each with their own unique structure and properties that warrant further research. Replacing saturated fatty acids with unsaturated fatty acids improves the blood lipid profile and reduces cardiovascular disease risk, although the benefits depend on the specific saturated fatty acid(s) being replaced. Acknowledging the complexity of saturated fatty acid metabolism and associated metabolic events is important when assessing their effects on cardiovascular disease risk. Investigating the biological effects of saturated fatty acids will advance our understanding of how they affect cardiovascular disease risk.


Michael R Flock, Penny M Kris-Etherton. Diverse physiological effects of long-chain saturated fatty acids: implications for cardiovascular disease. Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care. 2013 Mar;16(2):133-40

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PMID: 23037905

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