Public Release: 

Pork modified to contain more polyunsaturated fat reduces total and LDL cholesterol in women

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

While saturated fat from animal products is a significant contributor to cardiovascular risk, consumers have not followed public health advice to reduce consumption of these foods. The typical American diet currently includes 33% of energy from fat, of which 13% is from saturated fatty acids (SFAs) from animal products, 13% from monounsaturated fatty acids, and 7% from polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). Stewart et al., in a study published in this month's American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, investigated the effects on serum lipids of pork modified to contain higher amounts of PUFAs. When compared to a diet containing standard pork, the modified pork diet produced significant reductions in both total and LDL cholesterol.

Modified swine were raised at the Iowa State University Meat Laboratory by feeding them a pig ration supplemented with soybean oil and defatted, dehulled soybean meal. The redesigned pork contained a 70-88% greater proportion of PUFAs:SFAs than that found in standard pork. During an 8-week period, 20 women aged 19-24 years alternated between a typical American diet containing standard pork and a diet containing 42% of energy from fat, in which the exclusive source was the modified pork. The experimental diet produced a 10% decline in serum total cholesterol and a 24% drop in LDL cholesterol, whereas the standard diet produced 4% and 8% increases in total and LDL cholesterol, respectively. Serum concentrations of glucose, insulin, and triacylglycerol did not change during the diets.

According to the authors, "the fatty acid composition of swine tissues can be easily changed by modifying swine feed ingredients," and such modification could become a useful approach to lowering the amount of saturated fat Americans eat.


Stewart, Jeanne W et al. Pork with a high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids lowers LDL cholesterol in women. Am J Clin Nutr 2001;74:179-87.

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