Improving dietary fat quality strongly affects serum cholesterol levels and hence the risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). Recent studies have identified dietary fat as a potential modulator of the gut microbiota, a central regulator of host metabolism including lipid metabolism. We have previously shown a significant reduction in total cholesterol levels after replacing saturated fatty acids (SFAs) with polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of dietary fat quality on gut microbiota, short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), and bile acids in healthy individuals. In addition, to investigate how changes in gut microbiota correlate with blood lipids, bile acids, and fatty acids.
Seventeen participants completed a randomized, controlled dietary crossover study. The participants received products with SFAs (control) or PUFAs in random order for three days. Fecal samples for gut microbiota analyses and fasting blood samples (lipids, fatty acids, and bile acids) were measured before and after the three-day intervention.
Of a panel of 40 bacteria, Lachnospiraceae and Bifidobacterium spp. were significantly increased after intervention with PUFAs compared with SFAs. Interestingly, changes in Lachnospiraceae, as well as Phascolarlactobacterium sp. and Eubacterium hallii, was also found to be negatively correlated with changes in total cholesterol levels after replacing the intake of SFAs with PUFAs for three days. No significant differences in SCFAs or bile acids were found after the intervention.
Replacing SFAs with PUFAs increased the abundance of the gut microbiota family of Lachnospiraceae and Bifidobacterium spp. Furthermore, the reduction in total cholesterol after improving dietary fat quality correlated with changes in the gut microbiota family Lachnospiraceae. Future studies are needed to reveal whether Lachnospiraceae may be targeted to reduce total cholesterol levels.
The study was registered at Clinical Trials (https://clinicaltrials.gov/, registration identification number: NCT03658681).